A few times earlier this year I was asked, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I was caught off guard and ended up giving some less than mediocre answer, both times. Afterward, I went home and I thought about it more…
The vague answers that I had given implied a lack of ambition, or at the very least a lack of planning. So, now that I’ve had a few months to think on the question, I think I’m finally ready to give an answer. It may not be the answer that you’re looking for, it most likely isn’t the answer that the person who asked me was looking for… Hell, for that matter, I’m not even positive that it’s the answer that I was hoping for. It is however, the only answer I have…
Where do I want to be in five years?
In five years I want to own a home. And I’d prefer that it not be a “starter home”. In five years I want to own the house that I’ll be living in for a good portion of my life. I may not live there forever, but I want it to be more than something to fix up and then turn around and sell a few years later. I want to get to know my neighbors. I want to invite people from the neighborhood over for a barbeque in the summer and a turkey dinner in the winter. I want a yard, with plants, fruit trees, and a small garden. In five years, I want to own a home, not a house.
In five years I want to have financial security. I’m not saying that I want to be rich, or never have to worry about money again. I’m simply saying that I want to have enough income that I know I don’t have to wonder whether or not I’m going to be able to pay my bills on time. I want to have enough income that I can set aside a bit of money to pursue my dreams, to travel, to have hobbies. Financial security, to me, doesn’t mean being Oprah rich. It means exactly what it says, have enough money that I can feel a sense of security and stability in my life. That’s what I want in five years.
In five years I want to actually be writing. Not these blog posts, and not the starts and stops that I so frequently do; getting 15 pages into a story, then never looking at it again. I want to be seriously writing. Whether it’s more than a hobby at that point or not, doesn’t matter. I enjoy the feeling of creating worlds, creating life, and placing the beauty of it all on the page. I want to help other people see the power of language and imagination. I want to make people think, I want to make them feel emotions. I want to move people to laughter and to tears. In five years, I want to show people the immensity and the majesty of the world though language.
In five years I want to have submitted an audition tape for Survivor. Whether I get on or not is another matter, and frankly not as important. I know it seems silly to most of you, and maybe it is, to an extent. I think for my sake, I just want to prove that I can follow through on something that I’ve always wanted to do. In five years I want to have finally reached for that one dream, even if it’s only to prove to myself that I can reach for any of my dreams.
In five years I want to have traveled more. I want to have gone to Scotland, Australia, back to Alaska, maybe even to Borneo to meet an Orangutan (since Terry Pratchett died, I’ve been looking in to Orangutans… they’re really quite amazing). I don’t want to go just to go. I don’t want to go through the usual tourist traps. I want to go for the stories. I want to go off the beaten path and see things that will change me. I want to experience life in someone else’s world, even if only for a moment. In five years I want my world to have grown.
In five years I want to be in love. I want to be with someone who makes me smile simply by being present. I want to have someone to share my life with. I want someone to take dancing, someone to watch bad movies with; someone who, when they’re having a bad day, I can make them feel better just by holding them. I want someone who will laugh at my terrible jokes and someone who will tell me when I do something stupid, then be there to help me fix it. I want to be with someone who wants to understand me and who wants to, every once in a while, see the world through my eyes, while also wanting to show me the world through theirs. I want to be able to cook a nice dinner for someone every Tuesday, because Tuesdays are the worst day of the week and we should have something to look forward to. In five years, I don’t want to be alone.
All of these things that I want, all of these hopes, plans, and dreams for five years’ time… will all of these be fulfilled? No… of course not. But all of them have one common theme. That’s what I realized while thinking about this question. The next time someone asks me that, I could give any one of these answers, or something more professional, or maybe something vague and unsatisfying again. No matter how I choose to answer it in the future, I’ll know the one thing that I’ll always want… You could take away any or all of the hopes I listed above, as long as you left me with this one…
In five years, I want to be happy.
It’s a simple request, and yet at the same time it’s so damned complicated. When I was a child I thought, “It’s easy to be happy, you just decide to be and then you are!” Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, that changed. Happiness is fleeting, it’s rare, and it shows up in one aspect of life just to abandon you in another. It’s a challenge. It’s difficult. And yet, it may be the only goal truly worth striving for, because every other goal is just a step toward this one.
Like I said at the beginning, this isn’t the answer you were expecting, and probably isn’t what you were hoping to find. I’m sure it’s not what the person asking me the question wanted to hear. But when I asked myself the question, this is the answer I came up with, and I don’t care what anyone else wants to hear, because this is the best answer I have.
So, ask yourself… Where do want to be in five years?