Do I need a five-year plan?

I keep seeing things about how you need to have a 5-year or 10-year plan in terms of your career and I honestly cannot think of what I would want.

I’ve been in my current job for 12 years (and 4 months, but who’s counting?) I guess it’s not the exact same position, I did get a promotion a couple of years ago (“We’re moving your area to a different department and the old director is staying in IT, so I guess you’re the director now.”) And in reality, since I work in web development my job changes all the time as technology evolves. There is no “higher level” position in my current employment to work toward, I’ve peaked in that regard. But in terms of having a plan or trajectory, I’m lost.

I’ve felt this way for years, but it’s really amplified lately. The main reason?

Baby in sunglasses
She’s the most amazing and overwhelming thing to ever happen in my life!

When I was younger, I always assumed that if I had kids I would NEED to keep working. Not necessarily for financial reasons, but for mental salvation. I thought I would need the time and interaction with other adults as opposed to spending time with a baby all day.

But I also knew that as a working mom there would be a feeling of guilt about leaving my child with someone else all day and the expense of paying her tuition. There’s the feelings of guilt for taking time away from my desk to pump each day, even if I’m allowed that “privilege” by law for the first year of her life. There’s the guilt of feeling like I’m not as reliable as an employee because I quit working immediately at the end of the day so I can rush off to get her, where the old me would keep plugging away for far too many minutes or hours past the end of the work day.

As it stands right now… I get the worst of both worlds. I get the guilt that comes with working and the lack of adult interaction that comes from staying home.

The addition of Skype and Google+ Hangouts help me feel a little more connected to other people at work.  My daughter’s school teachers are amazing and they do activities with her that I wouldn’t think of doing if I was on my own with her all day. There are some positive things to my situation, but on a broad scale I’m just generally discontented with life.

I feel the biggest reason I’m unhappy is that I’m scared of change. Taking a leap to make changes is scary, even more so now that there is another person in my life who would be affected by these decisions.

I think that getting rid of the notion that I need a 5- or 10-year plan and being more mindful and living in the moment will help. It’s too bad that our world doesn’t encourage mindfulness more, we’re always supposed to be looking to the next thing. I’ve found that in my running too. I couldn’t just finish my first postpartum half marathon without being asked multiple times that same day, “What’s next?!” Can’t I just have this moment?

Do you find that you struggle with being in the moment? What do you do to pull yourself back into it and not focus on the future too much?


  1. I struggle with this all the time. I’ve even read that you’re supposed to have a business plan for your family, not just yourself! I went as far as to draft something only to realize that we don’t operate like that. I know that I’ll probably go back to work in 2 years (once Henry is preschool ready), but I have no idea what that means. I’ve never really had a steady career. I’ve been in marketing and cooking. But I’m not sure I want to do either when I return to the work force. The idea of finding a job seems very daunting, yet the idea of possibilities is exciting. Anyway, my point is yes, I feel this way everyday. It’s one of the drawbacks of being a mom. Yay, moms! Just kidding.

  2. I struggle with it because I am older and am looking for something to supplement my income after I retire from mu current position. I had hoped I could do it by blogging and doing something with health and fitness, such as workshops or seminars, but now I am not so sure.

  3. You know that saying: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”. I think it is true. Just live your life the way you enjoy it the most and don’t worry about the future. If you’d like to concentrate on your career – do it. If you’d like to spend time with your baby – do that. In either case – do the things that make you happy.

    Do I have a plan? Not really – I am trying to improve my business while trying to stay sane at the same time. I am getting married to a wonderful girl this summer and that’s what makes me get off bed every morning. I don’t have any kids yet and that allows me to take more risks.

  4. ahhh…just the ability to MAKE plans sounds like heaven to me. It IS a wonderful problem to have, and I wish I could offer you better advice, but just be in the NOW. Run your races and relish the finish…instead of already planning the next one RIGHT away.
    This is very hard to do in my life, and I wish I could be able to SIT in the now…but I’m ALWAYS a week or even a year ahead.
    You are a very lucky woman, and I hope you know that. You get to have your cake and eat it too…just stop feeling guilty about it, because it’s ruining YOUR moments.

    • It’s funny how different views can be from our own. I’ve never thought that I was lucky, I was kind of jealous of you in that you control your own work and can do “grown-up” things a little more because your kids are more self-sufficient. But I do recognize that your business is very life-consuming and I should be grateful I get vacation days, sick days, weekends… even if those feel really difficult due to having an infant. I guess the grass is always greener somewhere. You’re so awesome though, thank you for all the support and encouragement you give me!

  5. Hi Jill. Being a mom is hard. A full-time working mom with a small child is even harder. A staying-at-home mom, I guess, is not easy either. Hopefully, in the future you can work part-time. In my opinion, working part-time is an ideal world. I work 2 days/week, enough for contributing to my retirement funds and shopping here and there. For the days I stay at home with baby Geneva, I can sleep in with her, take my time to cook, clean, exercise and read. I love this part-time work, part-time mom so much. I decided to have a baby when I was older, 37 so that I could save from many years of working and now it gives me a sense of financial security to enjoy being a mom and not having to bring home a full paycheck. Of course, I’m thankful to my husband who has a stable job too.

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