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Failure of the 10 Year Plan

Life is a funny little thing, isn’t it? We wake up each morning with a plan for the day, the week, the month, maybe the year and some of us for the next five to ten years. Today I woke up, followed my usual Friday routine – breakfast, gym, email. Then it hit me that I would dropping off my daughter with her uncle who works in a nearby town. The ironic part for me was that his office is across the street from the apartment complex that I lived in almost ten-years-ago when I first moved to Atlanta. That got me thinking about what my life was like while I lived in that apartment. I started thinking about how I came to Atlanta to do my internship with CNN. I started thinking about all the plans, ideas and dreams that I mapped out on the floor of that tiny 600 sq-ft apartment.

At the time, I had just finished getting my degree in Exercise Science. I had dreams of owning my own successful fitness center, be the trainer to the stars, buying a home, getting married and settling down to have children- the typical American Dream, I guess. Of course, I wanted this all by the ripe age of thirty. Some of the goals I accomplished, some I didn’t- at least not according to the vision that I had in my head at the time. Actually, once I accomplished a few of these goals, I found out that what I had so badly wanted, wasn’t what I really wanted. For example, I wanted to be a home-owner so bad. Why? Simple- because that’s what I was supposed to do after I found a steady job, right? It was the next notch in the belt of success. And… I hated it. I hated the maintenance, I hated the nosy neighborhood, I hated almost every aspect of homeownership, including the selling of the home. It’s just not for me. It didn’t excite me, it didn’t light me up. This made me question many of the things that I thought I wanted. Did I really want this life or was I just following along the path that I thought I should be following?

Many people, including my husband Rob, have at one time made long-term plans for their life. Of course, these plans often include the exact way the goals will be achieved. In fact, many employers ask the same question when interviewing “Where do you see yourself in five years?”. What’s that saying…”When you make plans. God laughs.” Well, when I hear that question, now I laugh.

Looking back now at where my life was ten-years-ago compared to where it is today, it’s so wild. Sure, part of the original dream is the same. I’m thirty-one, married with a family. But the path that I had envision is so drastically different than the path I actually took to get here. I could never have predicted that I’d be traveling the world, making a travel videos and writing guidebooks. In fact, if you asked Rob or myself three years ago, we would’ve thought you were crazy. But, I wouldn’t change my life. Rob and I have designed our life on our terms. It’s not the way that many ‘think’ we should live. But we honestly don’t care. We live life on our terms, with no excuses.

What I live by now is one simple idea. You need to have a vision of what you really want in your life (You can use the Dreamline). But the path that you take to get there ultimately isn’t up to you to plan. You’ve got to be open to the twists and turns life throws your way. Currently, my dream is to live in Italy. Actually, if I’m honest, since my first visit to Italy at age sixteen, I’ve had this yearning to live ‘La Dolce Vita’. Now, I don’t let myself get caught up in who, how and when I’ll live there. I just know that I will. Each and every day I take another step toward my dream, and I know that the path may change, curve and even sometimes detour. But, in the end, I will live in Italy.

So ask yourself, “Five or ten years ago, could you have detailed out exactly where you are in your life currently?”

Probably not. Your five or ten year plan probably failed. But hopefully, it failed for the better like mine did. It failed because what I originally thought I wanted, was not authentic. Now, I have a real chance at achieving my dream, not just the American dream.

The moral of the story…

Find out what you really and truly want in your life- no excuses necessary. Don’t get caught up in the details of how- just take the next step forward. Accept life’s challenges and blessings. Know that it will happen. Go after it harder than you’ve done anything else in life.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Erin Kaya April 8, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I have come to find that the best laid plans always go astray. It truly is about the journey. I couldn’t have said it better, Kim you are an inspiration. Thanks for the boost! I too plan to retire in the Mediterranean one day. In know you will live in Italy….and we can be neighbors 😉
    Erin

  • Reply Jonathan April 16, 2010 at 1:11 am

    You two are beyond inspirational. I want your life!

  • Reply aladyinlondon April 22, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Great post. I just found your blog, and I love it. I too took a rather unexpected journey in the last 10 years and went from working in finance in San Francisco to living in London and travelling all over the world. I haven’t regretted any of it, and it’s great to find others that have done similar things!

  • Reply Valerie May 14, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Kim, my husband sent me your article and I totally agree. I owned a business that I loved but hated everything about it, the employees, partnerships, bills, hours etc. We thought it would provide us with a retirement but 2 years later we sold it to our partners and frankly I’m so relieved. The hardship I put into it with knowledge in return was great but my goal was financial success. For 10 years I’ve been a quilter and love to quilt (I’m 33 now) and I’ve always dreamed of owning a quilt store, now I do it’s online and I LOVE it and so does my hubby. I feel great everyday, I’m extremely busy and now the financial gain will come because hard works pays off. 10 years ago I knew I would be doing this and now I am. Like you, I don’t care for the most part what people think, I’m happy, we’re doing what we love and loving life.
    Thanks for the great article,
    Valerie
    http://www.PastimesOnline.ca/vals-quilting/

  • Reply Tai Yuni June 24, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Thanks Kim for the truly inspirational post. You’re right, I made my timeline or five year plan and things did not turn out the way I thought they would. But I am happy where I am now. I like what you said, “failure for the better.” I picked up and moved to London (I’ve already lived in several cities around the globe) but this one just feels right, and I think eventually everything falls into place like it’s supposed to. I know that not everyone understands this lifestyle – except for those with an international mindset.

  • Reply arthur buliung July 21, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Kim,
    I grew up with your Dad (NH) and we speak every few months (spoke today) and he has been telling me about your travels and adventures. After reading about the life style you and Rob have chosen I can honestly say I am impressed and I might add, a bit jealous. I find your website informative, exciting, and fun. My wife, Vicki, and I have started to travel a little and enjoy it greatly so we can understand why you and Rob enjoy traveling as much as you do. From what I can see and read you guys have a blast wherever you go. BTW, we hope to get to Italy this fall and know we will love it as much as you do.

    Enough from me – sending you guys the very best and someday when you are up north maybe we can drive up to meet you. Happy travels –

    Art Buliung

  • Reply Rich Girl March 10, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Great article! I am thinking about the plans and how the life is changing a lot lately, as I am approaching my thirties next month. I am thinking about the plans and goals that I have not achieved and it makes me sad, but on the other hand I also think about the things that I have never planed and thought that will ever happen to me, and it is wonderful! I agree that we need to know exactly what we want to achieve in life, but don’t think about how we are going to achieve it. Let the life put everything in places.

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