The age old question, right? My least favourite question in a job interview: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” The true answer is that I highly doubt I will be there for that long so I have to make up some crap based on what I know about the company. In fact, in my most recent job, we had a change of manager and he asked me where I wanted to be in five years. My post was secure so I promptly replied, “I have no idea. All I know is, it isn’t here.” He went with the question and asked what kinds of things I thought I would be doing. I pulled my yogini powers on him and said, “My reality now is very different to what it will be in five years so I really can’t answer that question.” He tried a few more times in different ways before giving up and talking about his ferrets and horses. I wonder if he asks them where they will be in five years…
Anyway, many people think the sailing lifestyle is strange so they assume I am on holiday. I get blasted with what I call the rat race questions. “How long are you going to be here, it’s just a holiday right?” “Do you want to buy your own boat?” “When are you going to be a captain?” “Do you want kids? It would be hard on a boat.” “But for how long are you going to do it because you can’t do it when you’re older?” “What about your retirement plan?” I don’t blame people for asking those questions. It’s how society has taught us to think and I asked many of those same questions this time last year.
As a child, my first plan in life was to become a semi-truck driver. I changed my mind as a teenager. I decided I wanted to go to medical school and be a psychiatrist. In high school, I geared my classes towards medicine and really put a lot of effort into this plan. Then the pre-medicine classes kicked my ass in University. After a year of giving up partying, becoming a regular in my professor’s office and working hard for a C- in chemistry, I decided I had to give up. I immediately thought I was a failure and took the “lowly path” of a psychologist. My plan had not worked.
Then came my second failure. I applied for a doctorate programme and was only accepted for the Master’s. If my grades were good enough, I would be accepted into the doctorate. Then I decided I hated university and needed a break so I stopped after my Master’s.
This caused a major crisis when I was 29. I was supposed to be a Doctor with my own private practice, a house, a husband and at least one child by the time I was 30. I had none of that. Two weeks before my 30th birthday, I laid on my sofa in fits of tears begging my boyfriend at the time to propose to me, or at least agree to try for a child. After all, we had been together four years. The men reading this will understand how this is the best way to make a man run as far as possible. He very skilfully dodged my request by saying all the great things I had done despite things not going to plan. Although he was incredibly supportive, he couldn’t understand why I was so upset. Now I get why he couldn’t.
As I’m sure you can guess, that relationship fell apart. I was 30, and in my mind at the time, it meant I was officially an old maid who would never be loved. I went through a rough patch. I am a firm believer in rough patches. They always teach me the best lessons and make the good times that much better. This rough patch lasted years. It wasn’t until I asked a Nicaraguan man when his day off was and his reply was, “If there is work, why wouldn’t I work?” This simple answer encouraged me to think in a totally different way. I had heard the saying, “No expectations!” and related it to relationships. It wasn’t until this moment that I realised it makes life easier if you have no expectations on life either! If you don’t expect to have a day off, it’s no big deal when you don’t get one. And so a shift happened inside of me. A very deep one.
I am no longer bothered that I am 37, unmarried and childless. In fact, I don’t even want children. I’m not saying it will never happen. I can’t say that, because I don’t know what’s around the corner and if something will make me change my mind. So why worry about it? I have an awesome life right now, why would I plan to change it or worry about something I don’t know is going to happen? I’ve just dropped the expectations of what I “should” be doing and grab on to whatever good has come my way.
Do you know how many people in the world don’t have a retirement plan? A lot. Do you know how many people in my profession work until retirement only to die within a year of retirement? Too many. They planned their whole life for something they will never enjoy. In any marina you will see sailors in their 60’s, 70’s and older working on their boats and planning their next destination. Maybe it’s the carefree spontaneous lifestyle that allows them this physical privilege so late in life.
My plan of no plan feels right for me. I will find solutions for things as they arise, not worry about things that may or may never happen. I enjoy life more this way. I am in no hurry to make a plan to change it.
So my new answer to the old age question is, I have no plan. I take each day as it comes and like the saying goes, “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it!” I see no reason to plan to change something that makes me so happy. When I’m unhappy, I’ll change it then and not before.