What do I want to do in 5, 10 years?
This is the question that cannot be and maybe not necessarily needs to be answered.
I felt anxious, doubtful, and lost out of college. I have a full-time job offer that I’m excited to explore but I still have a vague idea of what my short-term and long-term goals in life are. Bombarded questions about the future in conversations with people when I tell others that I just graduated from college only amplify and deepen my anxiety. What do I really want to do in 5 years? In 10 years? I can come up with quick answers to these questions but I secretly and consciously recognize that my answers are mainly just vague, unclear sentences that I can quickly put together for the sole purpose of responding. If my answer already varies every time someone asks that question, then how can it stay constant 5, 10 years from now.
If I already feel like a different person when I go to bed compared to the person I wake up to be in the morning every day, then how can my thoughts, interests, and emotions stay constant over a period that is 5x365, 10x365 longer?
I wonder if there’s a purpose to answering these questions anyway if only thinking of these questions alone just makes me feel even more stuck and spiraled into anxiety, restlessness, and stress, if my answers will change as time passes by, and if answers to these questions are so trivial and relatively non-important to anyone else but me. If I don’t feel the need to answer these questions to myself, then perhaps there’s no need to answer these questions for others either, except when I’m in an interview setting and have to really answer these questions.
I started to think differently when I asked myself “What’s the most important thing now? What is something that I can take full control of?” This question eliminates a million of other questions that have been revolving around my head for the past 1,2 months post-graduation: What if I don’t perform well in my future job? Am I ready? Will I like my future job? Is it even the best fit for me? Will I feel impactful and will I like everyone at my work place? What happen after that? What are the alternatives? This question enables me to subtract back what is not necessary to think of now and to only focus on a few important things that I can fully take control of and enjoy at the moment.
I realized that what I have control over now is the present, not the future, not what can go right or what can go wrong. What I can focus on now is living my everyday life fulfilling the clear intent that I set out for myself. Stepping back from all the doubts and anxiety from the future gives me more energy to focus on what is clear and most important to me now — investing my time and energy on engaging in hobbies and outside interests that make me feel excited, engaged, rewarded, and forget the passing of time sometimes. Having just one, focused, clear goal of what I want to do now and what I can take control of is refreshing. It allows me to find clarity, to be in touch with my own emotions and myself more, and to feel more purposeful and enjoyable in how I spend my days. I feel more grounded, secure, certain, and confident that what I am doing right now is the best way to spend my days. Right now, it’s writing for others to share honest questions, difficult dilemmas, and vulnerable emotions that I have felt growing up and to share valuable, unexpected, fulfilling insights that I have gained from conversations with more experienced friends, mentors, and books to resolve these dilemmas and emotions.
It’s good to feel lost sometimes because only then can I find more clarity, purpose, and confidence in how I spend my days and how I spend my life. I feel better, calmer, and clearer in making active, intentional decisions to live a fulfilling, purposeful life.