“Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” is a classic interview question I expect to be asked imminently. I can clearly recall telling a friend on the way home from school that I needn’t worry about a career, as I’d be married at 23 and have kids by 25. She said she wanted to be a successful businessperson. Fast forward twenty-odd years and she’s at home with two kids and I’m on a sabbatical figuring out my next move.
I went straight from school into a Modern Apprenticeship. As part of that, I studied for an HNC. I continued studying part-time for a degree and an accountancy qualification because I enjoy learning. I found the structure of education gave me purpose. I also thought each qualification would make me more confident. Once I’d finished, I looked around and saw that lots of people had got married and some had kids. I felt a little under pressure, if I’m honest.
Then a few years back, three people close to me died aged 67. This was a wake-up call, as it made me realise how much I took for granted. We expect to live to a good age nowadays, but we are all ticking time bombs and could expire at any time.
About eight years ago, I moved from Finance to Analytics and my love of learning and challenge continued. At work, I was always busy and would fret about the tasks I had to complete – the curse of Virgo perfectionism. Inside I felt sad about my ‘lack of life’, as if I wasn’t a complete person because I didn’t have a husband and 2.5 children. The years keep rolling by however and I feel like I’m not moving forward, even though I’m lucky to have travelled a lot and been to lots of live events. When I was given the chance to take some time out, I grabbed it with both hands.
I have ideas of what to do next: I’ve always wanted to write, I could start my own business, the job I had been doing was interesting… However, I find myself pulled in many directions. I supposedly have all the time in the world now, but I’m putting myself under pressure to make the most of it and am constantly thinking. I range from too worried to too relaxed.
To combat this, I use the Headspace App. Ten minutes of daily meditation allows me to remain mindful. We all have busy lives, and it sometimes feels like a competition to show just how busy you are. However, I find it valuable taking the time to enjoy today and being grateful for what I have as things could change at any moment.
I’ve found that it’s often the simple things that make you happiest. I’ve been walking a lot recently, either alone or with friends. Going outdoors gives me a fresh perspective. Taking time to look at the beautiful scenery and the clouds in the sky makes me feel peaceful. I’ve met up with various people and I’ve discovered how similar we all are. Each person has helped me in some way too, and hopefully I have them.
So where do I see myself in five years’ time? Honestly, I don’t know yet. I’ve learnt that life doesn’t always go to plan. A decision may turn out to be wrong, but you can always learn something from it. Even if you are feeling low, you can always find a positive, no matter how small. This is your life, so enjoy every day.