Monday, July 3, 2017

LIfe-Plan or Chance?

I wrote this blog post last week, off and on over a few days while away for work. I wasn't sure I wanted to post as I do that sometime, put down my thoughts but not actually hit the publish button. Today I will. There are a few blogs I read that despite having very little in common, and not quite of the same mindset as myself, I really enjoy Ilona at Life after Money is such a blogger. A young, in all intents and purposes of the word, at heart retiree who live a vibrant life on a tiny budget recently posted about how she created a life for herself, complete with success, failures, relationships and careers had and left, and all the things that happen in between. Her post on Tuesday morning really had me thinking about whether or not I have planned by design the life I have, or just fell into it by happenstance.


It is a big question, and one I spent some time thinking about while I was up in the air a bit later that morning. I know what I have wanted from life has had variation over time, but ultimately the same. I know I wanted to have roots, with an immediate nuclear family of my own, but still be part of a national or even global society. Never in my imagination did I understand how small the world could be with the invention of the Internet and the proliferation of social media. I’ve never lost my hunger for travel, and if there is one regret I have is that DH and I do not make the time or budget priority to do it more often. There’s that whole time-money pendulum that crops up in my posts from time to time. As humans, aren’t we supposed to put both in what we value most? 

Getting back to the subject at hand, I never set out to be a career woman in the sense of the type of career I have. It is ironic, or sad, how much my job and career have evolved in my life to define me. A simple twist of fate 26 years ago, when I was planning to get my home licensed to do family child care so I could stay home with my own children while earning some income, changed my path. The county was back logged so far deep that they were not taking new applications. An acquaintance needed temporary help doing parent education while one of her staff was finishing an internship/sabbatical and she knew I was not working that summer. To add to fate, my niece was available as a short term nanny. The stars aligned for me to take the what was supposed to be temporary job, that ended up launching my career. I was very deliberate after that, taking additional training and ultimately going back to school to put me on a management track. Meanwhile, I worked more, took on more stress both in and out of work, and even incredibly hard life things didn’t slow me down, until three years ago when I nearly had a mental health breakdown. Things were better for a while, but I feel myself sliding again, putting demands on myself that are not aligned with what I say are my life priorities.  

Here I am then, now on the flight back from a three day conference, having slept poorly as I always do when I am both away from home and my family. It’s a very turbulent flight, having hit a rough patch of weather over Nebraska and Iowa and shifting further west didn’t resolve it completely. We’ve been bumping and shaking for the last 40 minutes.  I can’t say I’m not a little nervous.  I suppose it is kind of an analogy to my life plan. The pilot planned the route, but due to circumstances presented, he changed courses, but still, hit rough weather. No doubt we will get home unscathed, but all a little more pensive, less likely to take the next smooth flight for granted. 

I don’t know where I will be in a year, but I know I don’t want to continue this naval gazing and wondering if I am wasting what should be the fun years in my life. I want to be brave and make specific decisions that will result in more time with family and friends. I need to accept that the best laid plans will not always lead to a smooth route, and learn to just put my faith in myself that I’ll get where I should be regardless. Now to you. Did you create the life you have, or did it happen on auto pilot? Is anyone else wanting to get back to the roots of your hopes and dreams and steer your life on a new course?

11 comments:

  1. When my husband and I were in our 40's we had a long talk, actually many talks, about what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives and we knew the main think we wanted was to retire early. So that was our goal and it has been wonderful. I was never cut out for a career, I'm much to outspoken and don't suffer fools gladly, two skills that won't get you far ahead in life.

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  2. My life is and was created by deliberate choices based on what I was expected from me, and what I knew I wanted. I knew in Kindergarten I wanted to be a mother....all the girls said nurse, I said mother. I never figured out why the teacher and her student teacher laughed. But, I knew, like my parents before me, I was expected to go to college, and at least earn a Bachelor's degree, not to learn a social function, but for no other reason than for the sake of an education. I loved college. It was my liberal arts degree landed me an entry level position I loved, which led to advancement. I wasn't sure if I would get married, or, if I did, have kids, but if I did have kids, I wasn't going to outsource their care. One of us had to be home. So, obviously, anybody I chose to marry needed to be on board with this. When dh and I got married, we lived on one income knowing we most likely would only have one income one day. He is now retired, and our kids facing college, again, simply for the sake of an education, and due to our deliberate decisions, our financial outlook is great, and, we are happy. I love my life.

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  3. My life has been a series of happenstances that altered the course I originally thought it would be taking, but it has been good and the right life for me. I think you can make plans and have a destination in mind, but outside forces change things and you have to be able to set a new path or life can swallow you whole.

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  4. There is a joke about a man who loses his home etc in a flood he is on the roof and he has so much faith in god to save him. A man in a boat comes along no no it's ok God will save me he says another man in a bigger boat comes along no no it's fine God will save me an even bigger boat comes along no no he says I'm fine god will save me until the water rises and the man drowns. When he meets god he says god why did you let me drown I had faith in you to help me. God says how much help do you need I sent you three boats. A mental health breakdown is one way God is sending you help if you choose to accept it. I had one such breakdown at work and decided enough is enough. I took early retirement on a much lower pension but that was my choice. I have not regretted it. We have choices it's up to us to listen to God lol.

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  5. An interesting post Sam. Being flexible seems to be important along side plans. Plans can always be changed. Only you know what is important to you...everybody approaches life so differently.
    Arilx

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  6. From very young I knew I would study because I wanted to get out of the kind of social housing we lived in and get away from England because I hated the weather. So I set about getting an education and ended up in Switzerland at 21. Life was wonderful. But you know what they say, (wo)man makes plans and God laughs. I had a WONDERFUL life and loved every minute of it. Then I met someone who seemed to be "fun". Turns out later he was just nuts and marrying him was the biggest mistake of my life. We left Switzerland and ended up in DC and then Pittsburgh all at his pushing and I HATED it - I was so homesick. He hated it too as he could only get a job sorting mail at nights, so when I was offered a job back in Switzerland we both jumped at it. But my marriage was God awful and when he buggered off with his "lady friend" I saw it as a way to get my life back on track. I bought him out of the house and he went back to the States and I am finally getting to make plans for my own life again, just 30 years further down the road. It is hard getting the oomph back to make the kinds of plans that came so easily in my youth. I think Wendy is right when she said that basically coming so close to the edge can be God's way of saying "enough". Life is for living. Anna

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  7. I'm just like Wendy above - I had a mental breakdown at work and as a result retired 2 years early on a reduced pension. It was either $300 less a month to live on or injure myself! Hence the tight budget and mad rush to pay off all debt. I don't miss the extra $300 a month and am doing now what I always wanted to do which is travel. Start looking ahead to retirement - can you retire early? What do you need to do to get to where you want to go - literally and figuratively. Can you rev up the savings and debt repayment and/or manage to make one trip per year with hubby?

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  8. Good luck with you on these good and cosmic questions.
    There are no good answers.

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  9. Thank you all for indulging me with responses and comments. To quote Ur-Spo, truly cosmic questions.

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  10. I, for one, fell into mine. I wanted to be independently wealthy by this time but that didn't happen. PLUS my husband had promised me that he'd be a millionaire by the time he was 25. the liar...
    But I have the hand I was dealt and I'm dealing. Wouldn't change a thing except for a few... ;)

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  11. I grew up in a really small town, and always knew that I wanted to explore a different life. I do want to remain very close to my family, and spent the majority of our time, budget & traveling for family events as a reflection of that. As for work, it was also a fluke. I was supposed to do an internship at a small town, with my uncle (it was a free/unpaid internship). Instead, a company had to make a last minute change in their preferred intern, and my college adviser recommended me. That led to my first job, almost exactly 20 years ago at a major company in tech. A discipline I never quite wanted, but built experience in, year after year. I'm now in a very highly specialized field, which has led to great pay, but a way too demanding job/career/industry. My plans are to change that within the next six months. :-)

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