Future planning

It’s foolish to think that life will go like you think it will, but I still feel there’s value in planning for your future. It gives you something to direct your attention and energy towards.

I previously covered how I manage my time in the short-term and introduced the concept of a “focus block”, a distinct unit of time of indeterminate length. I use a similar unit to plan for the long-term, simply called a “future block”.

It makes more sense given some context.

I always wanted to be a scientist. I needed a dream to work towards to endure the pain I was in when I was just a child. I remember lying in bed dreaming of a better life, and what came to mind was the idea of becoming an archaeologist, since I had a fascination with dinosaurs at the time.

I didn’t know how I was going to achieve my dream.

My grades sucked, so much so that some teachers floated the idea of me having a learning disability requiring specialists. A deeply traumatized and bored child won’t show interest in their education; obvious to anyone with half a brain, but my teachers were none the wiser.

I’m going to skip ahead to the moment where I received a Master of Science degree. All that’s left to achieve is PhD status. I want it, and must plan for it. It’s been quite a few years since I graduated, which might become an issue if I continue to postpone getting a doctorate degree. So when, exactly, am I planning on doing this?

Impossible to say, hence the concept of “future blocks”.

I’m currently trying to achieve financial independence. That’s the “future block” that’s currently in play. I didn’t have a particular interest that I wanted to explore when I graduated. What I wanted was financial freedom, and planned accordingly.

One of two things could happen. I either achieve my dream of financial independence on time or my circumstances change and I’m forced to reconsider.

If the latter case comes to pass then the “achieve PhD status future block” moves up the timeline. I would have to abandon the dream and do something else to get money rolling in. I have a playbook ready in case my current dream becomes unachievable. This playbook is routinely reconsidered and tested. What does that mean?

It means that I regularly explore my options. I throw a wide net and see what sticks; that may mean applying for jobs I don’t actually want. The great joy of life is that it’s unpredictable. You’ve got to the roll the dice and see where it lands because you can’t know what you truly want ahead of time. There are too many variables at play to know with certainty.

I didn’t become an archaeologist like I thought I would. I could have though! I was on track until it was time to pick a university to go to. I went down the “information systems” road instead, after much trial and error. I’m a product of our time and the experiences that have led me to this point. That’s life.

I still managed to become a trained scientist. Next on my list of ambitions is to get a PhD. This particular “future block” might become active at 35 or 40, perhaps even later in life, but the exact time is irrelevant. What matters is that you start identifying blocks of time in which you’d like to achieve one goal or another.

I don’t know when I’ll achieve my dream of becoming financially independent. I’m behind on my original planning, but that’s okay, as long as my circumstances remain favorable I’ll continue down this path and push the “reach PhD status block” down the timeline. Remember that your circumstances inform when your chosen “future blocks” come into play.

I recently started playing with the idea of going to France for my PhD, but whatever my chosen place will be, the end result is the same, I’ll be a scientist who was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy title and fulfill the dream planned in way that’s compatible with life’s unpredictable nature.

Created on August 1, 2021
Published on August 1, 2021