Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of hard thinking about how I want to spend the next few years. It’s no secret that I felt incredibly listless and lost after graduation – I really didn’t take any time to consider long-term goals before moving halfway across the country and taking a job. Just ten days passed between graduation and my first day here in D.C.
In a way, I’m a little grateful for the jump start because I feel like I did hit the ground running – yes, I’m still figuring out the best way to balance my budget, and I may not be the most efficient planner, but I’m getting there, and figuring it out. I’ll figure it out on my way there, and maybe that’ll be half the fun.
But for a while, it felt like everyone I knew was still interviewing, or applying to graduate school, or attending graduate school, or already had their dream job. I’m also open about not being sold on D.C. when I moved here. I wasn’t completely sure about staying in the city.
Now, I feel like I have a firm grasp on my plan, and what I want to accomplish. I used to struggle with prioritizing, but it seems like it might be all falling into place as I focus on what brings me excitement and joy.
How did I figure it out (kind of)? I know the phrase “what do you love?” comes up a lot during these discussions, but I also have issues of “can I do that and still be productive at my day job?” and “will that eventually help me pay rent?”
I think the key to developing any kind of plan (5-year, 10-year, whatever) is to brutally honest with yourself. Here are some questions I asked:
- Do you really want that, or has it just been a goal you’ve had since high school?
- Are you good at that? Will you have to work twice as hard as everyone else to be good at that? Are you willing to?
- What’s important to you? What are your values? What are the “non-negotiables” in life? (For me, it’s maintaining a work-life balance most of the time. Not all the time, but most.)
- What is this going to cost? Both in $$$, but also time? Are you willing to spend 3+ years in part-time grad school to pay less every semester, or can you take out more loans and knock it out in 1-2 full time years?
- What kind of life do you want to have? What kind of lifestyle is important to you?
These questions, ultimately, are NO FUN. Until, for me, they became kind of fun. The scariest part about these questions are the very real consequences they pose for your plans and goals. For me, it was a little empowering to get away from everyone I knew, sit down with just myself, and figure out what’s important to me, myself, and I. I realized that I had spent too long factoring other people into my goals. Maybe I’ll share the plan I developed, maybe not. I hope this helps you at least stop feeling so lost if you’re like me, and set you up on a path of intentional goal-setting.
(Wow, look at that last line, who am I)