I Don’t Believe in Plans

Sep 5, 2015 by

09.05.2015 - I Don't Believe in Plans


“I didn’t set a destination for the outcome; instead I set a feeling.”

Alex Myles


          The worst interview question of all time: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I don’t fucking know. Do you? No. No one does. You can try to imagine or even pretend to yourself that you actually know, but life doesn’t go according to plan. While interviewing for jobs in the winter, that question was unavoidable, but my answer was always honest: “I don’t know. I’m not aiming for a target position or title or place in life. I have a target feeling. My priority is always happiness. In five years, wherever I work and whatever the role, I want to be as happy with my life as I am now. My job needs to compliment that.”

          “I really love that answer,” one interviewer responded.

          I don’t believe in five-year plans or ten-year plans or any-year plans. I don’t believe in needing to know where you’re going, because even if you think you know, you don’t. What we want changes so much over time that plans don’t matter. What I want now likely won’t be what I want in a year or five or ten. Instead of planning, I believe in having aspirations while expecting them to change, therefore knowing that not meeting those aspirations does not signify failure, but growth. I believe in preparing for the future (i.e. saving for retirement, living a healthy lifestyle, etc.), but not mapping it out. I believe in being happy with being happy now, and taking what’s next as it comes.

          Especially after my 24th year, during which I spent too much time freaking out about where I was going at the cost of my present peace of mind and to no answer about the future, I think it’s a waste of mental capacity to contemplate what could be. You can spend days, months, even years planning your future or you can live your life. I’m in adamant support of the latter. Hence why when I wrote my letter to 35-year-old me, I didn’t leave my future self with a laundry list of expectations; I wished her happiness instead.

          Earlier this year, I read a story of a teacher who had his 15-year-old students write a letter to their 25-year-old selves and stuff them in stamped, self-addressed envelopes. He promised to mail them their letters in ten years. Aside from surprise that her teacher had actually remembered, Jeanine Cerundolo was stunned to read what her 15-year-old self had to tell her 25-year-old self when she received her letter: “So I guess I’ll stand by whatever you do, because even if you are not who I imagine now, I’ll support you, because maybe who I’m imagining is someone else, and you are – well, you’re not someone else. You’re me.” Such self-acceptance was my goal in writing my own letter to ten-years-from-now me, resulting in a short, simple note free of all expectations but one: happiness.

Happiness Tip: Don’t have a target destination. Have a target feeling.

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