It’s not a race.
Here’s the goal: over a 100k salary by 26. Graduate medical school before 30. Pay off my student loans by 40. Purchase a second home by 50. Married by 27, first kid at 29. Oh, you’re not going to grad school right away? See I just don’t want to lose that spark.
I used to care about all of that. I had a very set vision for my life ever since I can remember. I had those crazy goals, too. But, as I am about to approach turning twenty-five I’m realizing having a “strict” plan for my life is almost as unrealistic as the goals I set.
There’s this great episode of New Girl where Reagan and Jess are discussing Reagan’s relationship with Jess and Reagan says, “who really has a plan for their life?” and Jess says, “Who does that? Me, me. I did it. I do it.” Reagan goes on to say something about how Jess can find a guy who also has a plan, to which Jess replies “And, I don’t think any of that stuff matters.”
I love this moment because it doesn’t judge someone for having a plan but it also doesn’t judge those who do not. I think planning for your life and setting goals is all part of a balancing act.
The trick is finding that balance
I’m a goal-oriented person. I like to set high standards for my personal career and life. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having dreams and goals, in fact I encourage them. However, it’s what happens when those things don’t go EXACTLY to plan that I have found trouble in the past dealing with.
No one can predict how something is going to go. Maybe you don’t get into your dream school. Maybe you take a gap year. Maybe you move to a city you didn’t plan on. Maybe your engagement falls through. Maybe you have a baby unexpectedly. Whatever the case may be, if it wasn’t in your plan doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.
Everyone has their own personal timeline and we currently live in a culture of hustle.
Work, work, work. Get a side job. Do this. Do that. It’s exhausting. The reason people rush to make choices and feel “unsuccessful” in this world is because society has prioritized monetary and job-related success to happiness. Sure, excelling at your career and feeling financially comfortable have a certain level of happiness built into it. You can find self-esteem in your job and let’s be honest, we all want money and more money can make you more stress-free. Yet, rest is not nearly as valued as hustle. Reevaluation is not as valued as pushing through.
So set goal for yourself, but also dedicate time to reflect on how you’re achieving those goals and being okay if they don’t happen within the time you originally set out. Figure out why you aren’t reaching them. Is it in your control? Do you need to dedicate more time to something else and put this on hold? Do you even want that thing anymore or do you just think you do?
Overall, be okay with your own personal timeline. Things change, things come up, things don’t happen. All that ultimately matters is that you are consistently pursuing your best self and taking the time necessary to be your happiest and healthiest self. Who cares when you do x, y, z. Do what feels right for you and that’s all that matters.