Today I was asked, by my boss of all people, where I wanted to be in five years' time. My response was "you sound like my Mum." Not the most mature, but a standard act of deflection.
Still, he persisted. I didn't honestly have an answer. I realise that the most suave response might well have been to rattle off a description of ambitious yet realistic achievements describing the perfect mid-thirties existence, as described by Sunday Life (don't even get me started on the new format: "how to: get a flat stomach, how to: iron a shirt - Blergh!) but just couldn't visualise it.
My mother, an otherwise resoundingly pragmatic woman, is unfortunately a big believer in 'positive energy' and 'visualising goals' blah blah blah. Admittedly she is mega-successful, but I attribute that more to her 5am starts than the Deepak Chopra cassettes she keeps in the car. She has rabbited on to me in the past about how I need to be able to articulate the future I want for myself - apparently then it will just magically happen.
I, however, have a different strategy. My strategy is all journey, no destination, admittedly. I figure that as long as I make decisions that are the best thing for me at that point in time (not in a ridiculous, not-factoring-in-consequences way) then wherever I end up is where I'm meant to be. So, decisions like: go back to uni, take this job, go out with him, go on that holiday, all get made simply by asking: "Is this the best/right thing for me to be doing?". And if the answer is yes, then so be it. So I can't possibly know where they'll lead me. Let's face it, the best laid plans of mice and men and so on don't guarantee anything. And if you ask me next year where I want to be in 5 years time, you'll probably get a different answer to the one I'd give you today.
My mother has observed me with a not-so-well-hidden skepticism as I've doggedly meandered through my 20s in this fashion, every so often coming out with "but surely working in a cafe isn't the best thing you could be doing" and "the magazine is doing very well but what about your degrees?" and so on. And it was with some equally ill-contained pleasure that I pointed out to her a few months ago that my mazy path has lead me to somewhere I'm happy to be (and she is equally pleased about), AND I've managed to be content pretty much every step of the way.
In some ways this will seem contradictory, because I am regularly accused of being and over-planner. My response to this would be that I like to over-plan on the short-term, and thus anticipate that the long-term will just take care of itself. My long-term plan is made up of my short-term plans. Rather than my short-term plans being decided by my long-term plans. Rightly or wrongly. All means, no end. In case you hadn't worked it out yet, I have basically no assets. But I do drink nice wine.
So, no, I don't know where I'll be in five years' time. I don't know where I'll be in one year's time. I do, however, know what I'll have for breakfast tomorrow. I worked that out on Sunday when I spent my last $20 for the week. And that's a good start.
Pine mushrooms, pasta and not much else
5 years ago