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Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

February 2, 2009

When I interviewed for my new job, I was asked by the Senior VP where I saw myself in 5 years. Classic interview question, right? My answer…I have no idea. Yes, that’s what I said in the interview. I still got the job. 😉

I’m living life right now without a master plan. Being the planner I am, this was a little hard for me to be OK with. Many years ago I was in job that I did not enjoy a good majority of the time. I started the job search but was set on staying in Oklahoma City. I figured I’d be in Oklahoma forever so to go along with that plan, I’d need a job in Oklahoma. I got a job and a year and a half later I was job searching again. This time, I applied to jobs in 8 different states. I figured I’d go wherever I could.

That job search landed me in Madison, WI. I never could’ve planned being there. I also couldn’t have planned the layoff that came only 7 months after I became a resident of the land of cheese and beer. What?!? That wasn’t supposed to happen. I mean, I just freaking moved to this place and now I’m jobless. Srsly?! After lots of tears and a great big Coke, I realized things were out of my hands. Go figure that I found out about the job I was hired for next only a few hours after I left my previous job.

To make a long story short, I’ve been in California less then a year, have just started my third job and have even moved twice. Some of these things were within my control and some weren’t. However, my world has not been crushed due to any of these things. And why is that? Because I roll with the punches and take things as they happen. You can really work yourself into a tizzy with worry when things don’t go according to your plan. And yes, I just used the word tizzy.

Think about it…when you’re SOOOO focused on ‘the plan’ you have blinders on. You become completely oblivious to other opportunities coming into your life. I remember sitting with my boss in Madison and discussing my work commitment for a new position. We agreed to a 2 year commitment and then my boss added, ‘unless something better comes along.’ I told him he was crazy and I loved what I was doing. Fast forward 4 months when I came back after working on my first conference in San Francisco. That’s when I told him I was probably moving in May. If I had been focused on that 2 year commitment, or plan, I probably would have never made it out to California. I saw an opportunity and went after it.

I’ve learned the hard way that making plans isn’t always the best option. It’s devastating when the plan doesn’t happen as you’d wished or drags on for way too long, which in turn keeps you from other opportunities. This doesn’t just apply to work. I’ve seen many friends, especially back in college, who were dead set on getting married. That’s not a bad plan, but for a lot of them, they were so focused on that plan, they’ve ended up divorced for various reasons. Do I want to be married? Eventually…someday…but there’s no way I’m changing who I am for the next guy who comes along. That checkbox can stay open for as long as it needs to until I meet the right one. Who knows how long that may be. I’m definitely a handful. *No comments needed from the peanut gallery on that one.*

Bottom line, let go of the plan. Stop focusing on it and start focusing on the things that are right in front of you. Learn how to enjoy them and utilize them. You never know where they may lead you to next.

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