I recently underwent some intensive aptitude testing and career counseling. It was highly valuable for me, and I had a lot of my thoughts confirmed about myself. I have always wanted to be an editor, but I love beekeeping, and have always been interested in policy. All of the tests and counseling confirmed that all of my divergent interests are not actually all that different, ultimately, and that I would be successful in any of them.
But the most helpful part to me was pointing out that one of my weaknesses is mid to long range planning. I had never been able to articulate that particular weakness to myself before, but suddenly everything that I struggle with in my life snapped into place. Everything from not being able to grocery shop to the metaphorical anxiety seizure that comes from someone asking for the 5 year plan.
I have been affectionately referring to this dilemna as my “lack of vison”. Being aware of this challenge has freed me up immensely. Typically in my life, I have unconsciously coped with this by setting short term goals: Get to Japan in the next 12 months, go to Sweden in the next 12 months, find an apartment by December, finish my degree in 4 semesters, take the foreign service test. I was able to accomplish all of these goals, but each goal has functioned independently of the others, and I haven’t been building towards anything.
When I get these goals, I become hyper-focused and end up planning for every possible contingency, and end up with a very regimented and paceled out schedule, and then its on to the next project. If I don’t have a goal to work towards, I start to feel lost and restless. And I am starting to realize its because I feel as though all my goals and projects need to be moving me towards something. They all need to be apart of the same thing, they all need to be in my 5 year plan.
Well, 5 year plans are for chumps. Well, not for chumps, but certainly not for me. I am trying to accept that my life will not be on the traditional linear career trajectory, but as long as I am doing challenging things, that help develop my skill set as a whole person, and not the compartmentalized, regimented verison I have been trying to make it.
This means I am trying to cool it with the over planning thing. To help with that mental and emotional exercise, I am asking myself what is the worse case scenario and what amount of planning can actually help. Well, folks, here they are:
Theft. Well, things happen. The car has an anti-theft system, and I can buy a trailer lock to make sure the trailer can’t be removed from the car hitch. Prepping for wallet theft by keeping photocopies of my identification and credit cards in case of left.
Serious injury. I have a first-aid kit, and I can bring an emergency beacon with me. Plus, lets be honest, I am no more likely to hurt myself on the road than at home. Accidents happen and you just have to be ok with that.
Car breaks down. That’s what credit cards are for.
Running out of money. Then I guess I have to come home then don’t I? Probably not a bad idea to hide cash/seperate credit card.
Getting lost. Seems unlikely I know given all the GPS systems and whatnot. But rural routes tend not to appear on maps and cell coverage can be spotty at best. Good thing my dad used to leave me out in the woods with a compass and a map.(He called it “orienteering”, and apparently it was an organized activity.)
But that’s it. That’s all the worrying I need to do about it. Having every minute of the trip planned won’t reduce the risk of any of those things happening, and it having it planned out won’t get me further down the road on my five year plan.
Being ok with my lack of vision, and being at peace with a non-traditional career path is a big part of what I am trying to accomplish with this trip, so stay tuned for more ruminations on just what will mean for me.