Hello friends, and welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter,
Some philosophical thoughts to share with you this month, if I MAY?
One of the questions people ask me, and I’m quite certain at some point in your life you’ve fielded this question as well, is “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
I’ve been asked that question in regards to my career and life in general. Frankly, I can’t stand that question!
Let me explain why.
I don’t have a good answer for this.
Looking back five years, I was in a very different place from where I am today. My lifestyle, my priorities, my hopes and dreams, my relationships and work: it’s all changed.
In both small and large ways, I’ve changed and grown, both personally and professionally. The idea of making decisions today, based on my wants and needs of five years ago, makes little sense. Why would I prioritize the concerns and goals of a less experienced, less intelligent, less self-aware version of myself?
Am I being too hard on myself when I say this? I don’t think so. If like me you’re someone who learns from life and is honest with yourself, I think this last statement about my five-year-ago less experienced and intelligent self is spot on.
Looking into the future, then, five years from now, I wonder: what use will the me of a decade ago have for the goals of my current version of me?
I am quite certain I will have learned so much more, and will have expanded my horizons in so many directions. It would be sadly limiting to box myself in, to envision and build a framework for how I’ll live at that point going forward based on what I know, what I care about, today.
Please don’t misunderstand me, though. There is value, huge value in preparation and in making wise investments now.
It’s a good idea to assemble a foundation upon which to grow. It’s a good idea to make investments for the future, even if you’re not positive which specific investments might pay off most generously. This is a lesson I’ve learned over and over again.
Flexibility is key, though. I’ve found that creating a flexible framework, rather than a rigid set of plans works well. It provides me the opportunity to choose investments without limiting future options.
What does all this really mean in practice?
In practice, I make investments in my capabilities, resources, knowledge, relationships, and health, all of which make it more likely that later on I’ll be able to take advantage of opportunities, and act upon priorities and values.
For example, ensuring that we stay healthy, physically, psychologically, and spiritually is a good use of time, energy, and resources.
One of the most important benefits of staying healthy is that you’re in good shape from which to make changes when an opportunity bubbles up. You’re also more capable of coping with discomforts and challenges when doing so will lead to worthwhile outcomes in the end. This is called resilience!
Investing in knowledge and new skills make it more likely that you’ll have relevant know-how you can apply to solving problems, creating solutions, thinking your way to new opportunities, or getting yourself back on track when things go haywire.
Continuous, life-long learning also helps you recognize opportunities for what they are, and makes it more likely that you’ll understand yourself more deeply, even as you inevitably change over time.
I think of this process, this long-term development of a flexible framework from which I enjoy life, as planting seeds. And from what I’ve read lately about the best ways to stay healthy as we age, gardening is always on the list!
I plant seeds of all kinds: knowledge seeds, health seeds, asset seeds, relationship seeds, even though I’ll never know which will bloom, or what they’ll look like when they do. I think of this as stacking the deck for serendipity. Serendipity is one of my favorite words!
The goal is to make it more likely that I’ll have what I need when I need it, despite not knowing what those needs might be today. I find this a fascinating way to live life’s adventure.
But I do know that if I plant enough of them, and if I take care of the ground in which I plant them, and if I cultivate whatever grows as a consequence, I stand a much better chance of being prepared for whatever happens next.
The next time someone asks me where I see myself in five years, I’ll just have to give them the link to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter!
I’d love to know your thoughts on this. Do you agree, disagree, or maybe have a different way of approaching the question of the five year plan?
Until next month, plant some seeds and be sure to find JOY in movement,