Lifelong Plans? Who Needs ‘Em!
Lifelong Plans? Who Needs ‘Em!

Lifelong Plans? Who Needs ‘Em!

What do you really want to do in life?

Sometimes the wrong questions lead to answers that seem, at a minimum,
idealistic and, in some cases, completed unrealistic.  I’ve asked a similar
question of everyone I interview, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”  As
I’m gaining more experience and learning more about what’s important to me at
different stages of my life, I realize the answer may often turn out to be, “it
depends when you ask me and what’s my focus in life at that time.”

When I was starting out in my professional life, I thought I wanted to be a
“Self-Made Man,” with plenty of financial wealth.  Once I spent a few years
working, and after seeing the lives of some of the business owners for whom I
worked directly or indirectly, I realized a few things.  First, there’s no such
thing as a self-made man.  Everyone, no matter where they started from, no
matter how rich or humble their beginnings, no matter how successful, has had
much help from others.  They may have gotten a hand up or stepped over others to
get to where they are today.  By no means is anyone Self-Made if the term is
supposed to convey someone being successful purely and only due to their own

Second, many folks who focused purely on financial wealth, were bereft of
much else that’s enjoyable in life.  They had poor family lives and/or
friendships, or they were too cold in their relationships with everyone except
those who could make them more wealthy. 

This latter result certainly didn’t appeal to me.  In fact, I realized I
would never want to be so detached from those around me that I focused on
nothing but work.  So,  I searched for positions that challenged me and gave me
the fulfillment of knowing I’d done something larger than myself…a bigger
project, larger budgets, solutions that touched more people.  This meant I was
willing to take some big risks by taking on some equally big responsibilities. 
I took a few big leaps in my profession then, each of which pushed me beyond my
comfort zone.  In some, I was successful, but not so much in a couple of
others.  I learned many valuable lessons from each. 

As I married, I realized I wanted my professional life to provide the
greatest flexibility so that I may spend the greatest time possible with my
family.  At first, this seemed to translate to holding a position with an
immediately local company that provided me with upward growth in financial terms
so that I could equally provide for my family, while insuring I traveled very

When I was laid off in 2009, I was forced
to consider contract work and, sure enough, travel.  I was resistant at first,
but as I saw the benefits of working from home and managing my time to be on the
road or at local client offices part of the time, I saw how I had more and
higher quality time with my family. I opened up to the idea of travel and, in
fact, landed a position with a company out of state.  This meant traveling 20 to
30% of the time, at first, and later at about 50% of the time. As I learned to
better organize my time, I saw how even 50% travel could be managed to insure I
still spent a substantial amount of time working from home and being around my

In addition, these changes taught me that what options I may dismiss today,
thinking they reduce my fulfillment, may not necessarily.  In other words, I
have to be open to ideas or options I’d previously dismissed or not considered
since they could pleasantly lead to better life plans.

What’s the point?

Simply that the question about personal or professional goals and fulfillment
is not only personal, in the sense that it differs for each person and their
circumstances, it’s also temporal.  So, asking questions about what you want to
do with your life has no real meaning.  In fact, it’s the wrong question to
ask.  At any point in your life, you should be able to instead ask and answer a
different set of questions: what’s important to me now and how does that
translate to what I want to do in my life today.  All else will fall into place,
so long as you’ve already created your “why” in

Here’s the kicker: If I truly believe in this paradigm, I must also accept
that even the paradigm may need to change as does my life!

Leave a Reply