What’s Your Five-Year Plan?

A reader's five-year plan, five years later

Awhile back, we published a post where we asked you what your five-year plan was. If you asked me how long ago we’d published it, I’d probably give you a guess of, “Maybe two years ago or so?” Or I would have, until a reader emailed me to point out that we’d published that post on five-year plans, well, five years ago.

Time flies. It really, really does.

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So when I got this reader email, I obviously went back to the post to see what five-year plans people had posted, to wonder what had become of those commenters and how those goals looked now. We run a wedding site, after all, so while there are a handful of you who have stuck around since the beginning, a decade ago, most people move on or stop commenting, and I lose track of them. But not everyone. So when I looked through the comments, a long, longtime APW reader, Christina, jumped out at me. (You may know Christina as the wife of Meigh, a longtime APW wedding planner.) And I just so happened to have her email address on hand, from that time I’d helped her replace her flakey wedding photographer almost a decade ago, and she’d sent me homemade jam as a thank you. (The internet, man. When you’re good, you’re good.) So I did what any decent internet stalker would do and first made sure nothing so painful had happened in her life in the last five years that she wouldn’t want to be reminded of her former hopeful goals. Then, once I’d ascertained that through excessive Googling and asking around, I emailed her the five-year plan she’d written five years ago, and I asked her how it had gone.

Here was her original list, circa 2013. It’s a good one.

1. Finish grad school. Fancy degree, bitches.
2. BABIES! Babies babies babies babies.
3. Don’t kill the dog, even if she does bark all the Goddamn time.
4. Finish the house renovations. Pretty please?
5. Plant a garden.
6. Find a job that doesn’t make you die inside every day.
7. Be a better employee who doesn’t spend half her day on APW (What? No. No. Surely not me.)
8. Continue to create real and substantive savings.
9. Blow that substantive savings on international travel. Make someone else take the baby and the dog while you do that, because your friends are suckers.
10. Make more friends and spend more time with those you have, because you are going to die alone in your apartment otherwise.
11. Feel healthy in your body no matter what size is on the label, though if we could go back down to wedding weight, that would be AWESOME, but let’s not yo-yo because that’s unhealthy. Ahem.
12. Continue being a motherfucking rock star who does silly dances and sings made-up songs in public because y’all know that shit is the best. (Also, when the BABIES are twelve, I will do this in front of them ALL THE TIME because I will be the WORST MOM EVER, OH MY GAWD.)
13. Drive a car for more than ten minutes without flipping the fuck out because OMG vehicle.
14. Bike to work. (It’s seven miles each way.)
15. Get back to running once my body stops trying to implode. Do a half marathon.

And because so many of you are Hermione Grangers, Christina didn’t just email me back a sentence or two, she sent me the full story of what happened in the past five years and how she did on her list. Plus, she gave me a new five-year plan, because she’s an overachiever. (And bonus wisdom about what we should be thinking about when we make these sort of dream lists.) Here is Christina, circa 2018:

All in all, looking at this list, I think I did pretty well. I got my degree in May 2015 and wore my six-month-old daughter across the stage at commencement. I’ve since switched to a new job where I love my work environment and my coworkers, and I drive my car the four miles each way to work. I’ve even biked in a couple of times. We left the baby and the dog at home for a trip to London and Iceland in August 2016, and we took the kid to Montreal in March 2017. House renovations will never be finished, and I tried planting a garden a couple of times, but then I kill it. Savings have been winnowed because baby lesbian making is expensive and insurance doesn’t cover a lot, but we’re working on it. I haven’t run a half marathon (knee issues), but I have continued to be active.

During the past five years, I gave almost two of them to fertility treatments—eight months to my now three-year-old daughter (seven IUIs) and fourteen months to the lentil-size baby in my stomach that will be making its arrival in December (five IUIs, one miscarriage, one round of IVF). Going into both, I had an idea that it would take a commitment of time and money, but I vastly underestimated the amount of mental, physical, and emotional energy expended trying to get pregnant through a clinic, or the heartbreaks along the way. At the end of every two-week wait, I was convinced I was pregnant until I found out I was not… until I was. December’s miscarriage was a roller-coaster of feelings during an already difficult time. I had a D&C and then drove to my in-laws for Christmas the next day, where I spent the week trying not to cry and being asked by distant relatives when we were giving my daughter a sibling. I still miss that blighted ovum, even after winning the IVF lotto and getting pregnant on our first transfer.

This list, to me, boils down to two main ideas: be present and build the life you want. I’ve really been working on both. The past five years have really been a struggle for me, but maybe not readily visible from the outside. I had terrible postpartum anxiety struggles with my daughter. The solution, therapy and Zoloft, arrived shortly before her third birthday. Therapy helped me realize that I’ve had high functioning anxiety for my whole life, though postpartum, the “high functioning” part dropped. I found an amazing therapist and with the drugs, it’s like the sun came out. My health deteriorated a fair amount as a part of all of that anxiety postpartum mess and I have been working really hard to get myself back on track, but even that is not a one-way street. My work environment when I wrote that five-year plan was not something I was suited to, and leaving for a new organization was one of the best things I could have done for myself.

What makes me sad looking at this goal list now is that my partner is not on here. I’ve been married for holy cats SEVEN YEARS to the most amazing woman. It has definitely not been perfect. It has definitely been a lot. There has definitely been a lot of crying and a lot of poop (cat, dog, toddler). But I want to continue building a life I adore with her for the rest of mine. Having and maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner should be a long-term goal and not just expected. It’s real, substantive work.

If I had to make another five-year plan, I think it’d be:

1. Work hard, but not too hard.
2. Be the best partner you can.
3. Be present at work and at home. (That’s a never-ending goal.)
4. Practice patience with your family and yourself.
5. Be who you are, be active, be healthy, be happy.
6. Deadlift a bear.

And with that, both Christina and I pass this to you. What are your goals for the next five years of your life? If you were to look back at the last five years of your life before you made that dream list, how would it change? If you were going to give your future self a message in a bottle, what would it be? (I cannot guarantee that I might not email your to you in five years, asking how it went. Though I can guarantee that I will internet stalk the shit out of you first.)

Lay it on us. Share your dreams.

Share your five-year plans in the comments. It’s go time.

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