The Power of a Five Year Plan

For the past two years, I have struggled to see beyond today. It’s like looking forward was too scary, and looking backward wasn’t an option. It left me in a spot that was pessimistic and wary. Don’t get me wrong, there is power in living in the now, but it wasn’t that for me. It’s not like I was so present that I didn’t have time to look forward. In fact, I would argue that I was hardly present at all. I would find myself so stuck in today’s or tomorrow’s worries that I would spiral and lose sight of what was happening right in front of me. So, what happens when you aren’t present, can’t look backward, and can’t picture a future? I was about to find out.
There is always a five-year plan when you are in high school, post-secondary school, or even freshly starting your career. Graduate school, get a job, buy a house, meet that special someone (or some variation of that plan). During those years, I knew what I was striving toward. I had goals. But suddenly, I was through those goals. I had a steady job, married, and had a kid. What was left? When I turned 30, I struggled with what my next steps were, and then a few months later, I found myself so deep into a depressive episode that looking forward wasn’t an option.
I’m starting to see the bright side nearly a year and a half later. I don’t really know how it happened or what triggered it, but suddenly I had goals again. At first, it was just little things like getting myself back to work or taking up some classes at the local post-secondary school, and these things only looked a few months into the future. Then the goals started to grow slowly into the aforementioned five-year plan.
It took me a while to settle on a five-year plan. But slowly, a plan started to form, and my excitement for the future began with it. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to finally have something to look forward to or the relief that comes with such a thing. I didn’t realize how much I was missing that forward-looking part of me or how much it played a part in my depression.
So how did I get myself to that spot? Truth be told, I don’t really know. At one point, I had a near future plan, and then the universe laughed at my plan and left me with a blank slate of unknown. It was like my mind couldn’t picture a new future. My resilience, while robust, had been pushed a little too far, and I wasn’t flexible enough to plan something new. It was like I had always pictured myself on one path, and suddenly that path was no longer an option. It took me 15 months of wandering and struggling to realize that I needed a new path.
My long-overdue plan is now firmly planted in my mind. I find myself doing things today to make that plan a reality. I research and explore different options for that plan and get myself to get excited, which brings a new level of joy to my life. I also know now how important it is to be able to look into the future and see something that motivates me. I was a planner who didn’t have a plan. Thanks to a little bit of foresight and a lot of therapy, I can now see myself doing something great in the future.

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