While cleaning out an old purse I came across a list of goals from a few years ago that my then-boyfriend and I made. We had a three-month, one-year and five-year plan. I have been told it is healthy to have a five-year plan and work toward those goals. But after discovering where the me of five years ago hoped to have been by now, I realized sometimes it is impossible to know what you will want further down the road.
In my 20s I wanted badly to be married. I felt lonely and foolishly believed marriage would be a cure. I’ve never been one to fawn over babies or dream of having my own, and even now at 33 I keep thinking “maybe someday, but definitely not right now.” I scroll Facebook and see one of my friend’s post of a picture of her children. I think “Awe they’re cute,” but the next post is a picture from a travel blogger I follow of them in a mountain scape, and my heart swells. But with my then-boyfriend, having a family was something I wanted, and on my list of goals, I hoped to be married and have children by now. I am glad this did not come true, because right now I like being single and free.
And I have a nephew, whom I loved very much, so I get to be the cool aunt.
I also can’t help but think that my list was skewed. It was leaning toward a life with my then-boyfriend, but I wasn’t really thinking of what made me happy. What makes you happy, shouldn’t be dependent on another person.
I believe women who grow up in the South, and especially in small towns, are taught to get married and have children. And in my 20s, I was right along there with them hoping and praying that the next guy I met was Mr. Right. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting those things. Some women fit perfectly into the role of wife and mother, and I think I could too, but not right now. I’m happy with where I am in life.
I look back on the guys I dated and how easily I could see my life with them, despite the glaring problems in our relationships. I was willing to overlook those problems for the sake of being married. I thank God now that none of them asked me to marry them, because I probably would have said yes.God does not ignore your prayers, sometimes he just says “no” because he has something better. I think I would have been happy with my five-year plan of a husband and children, but I’m happier being single and traveling.
Another problem I have with the five-year-plan is sometimes your goals are not in your control. Wanting to be married and wanting children, are noble aspirations, but, like in my case, God’s plan and my plan did not line up and I am glad for that now.
Having goals is a great thing, I just believe you should work toward shorter goals that you can obtain with hard work. If you want to keep a five-year plan, just be flexible and know God is in control.
In 2014, I ran my first half marathon. This was a goal I enjoyed working for and one that gave me a complete sense of accomplishment. I have never been one to exercise and definitely not run. I began running when I turned 30, after completely my first three-mile run I knew if I wanted to I could do a half marathon.
When I started my job at the newspaper, I covered the Spa 10K/5K in Hot Springs, and I could not fathom running that far. The concept was foreign to me. But when I completed the 10K the year I started running, I felt I could tackle any obstacle that came my way.
If you are a reader and on the social media site Goodreads, you can set a yearly goal of how many books you wish to read that year. Or you can just set a personal goal without the Internet. In fourth grade, my parents and teachers noticed my reading skills were lacking. I had my eyes tested and was given a prescription of plus three. I could not see to read. Because of this, reading has always been a struggle, but I love to do it. Seeing that I’ve completed my goal of 20 or 30 books in a year, makes me feel accomplished.
Also, because of my love for mountains and hiking, I set goals to push myself so I can see more magnificent things. I haven’t hiked a 14er (a mountain with an elevation above 14,000 feet) yet, but that is a goal that I have. I have hiked to 13,000 feet, and that accomplishment was more than rewarding. I love starting a hike and looking up at high peaks. It is very daunting, but so rewarding when you get to the top.
The first time I hiked above the tree line, I was in New Mexico. We looked up at the jagged mountains and they were way above where we were standing. Then we hiked above those mountains! That feeling is why I love hiking big mountains, not only are they beautiful, I feel like I can take on the world.
In Olympic National Park, we tackled a 5,500-foot climb to see a glacier. When we got to the top, it was so foggy we couldn’t see the glacier, but the accomplishment of the climb made it more than worth it.
The older I get the more I feel God’s call to help others. For 2016 I am making a goal of donating more money to charity and volunteering more. I may not see the effects, but I hope to positively affect in a major way and share the love of God to at least six people next year.
However you want to better yourself is unique to you. I believe as adults, our bodies may be finished growing, but our spirits, mental health and heart continues to grow our whole lives.