Sunday, April 5, 2015

Where do you Want to be in Five Years?

I hate this question in job interviews, not only because it's cliche, but also because it's a bullshit question.  First of all, if I'm interviewing for a position, I obviously don't work there yet, do I, dipshit?  How the hell am I supposed to know where I want to be in five years in relation to your company?  I might hate the place two days after I start.  "Well sir, I would like to be running the company, with 10 weeks paid vacation, a corner office, and a liquor cabinet near my desk like Don Draper, only I'm never wearing a suit"

It's so dishonest.  Really, if we're strictly talking about where I wanted to be in five years in relation to the company I'm interviewing for, it would basically be that I want to still be working here, and not wanting to rip my hair out every single day.  I want a decent amount of vacation time, a salary I think is fair, and to not feel like the entire company's business rests on my shoulders when someone's printer goes down, let alone when I want to take a half day.

Let me talk about where I want to be in five years in general, from this very point in time.  I've done a ton of reflecting on this, and it hasn't only been since Megan died.  We had talked about it for a few years, albeit not too seriously, but she knew that deep in my heart, it's what I really wanted, not just for me, but for us.

A little background is in order.  I'm an IT systems engineer by trade.  I make a very good salary.  I get paid vacation, sick days, and at my current employer, a private office.  I have good health insurance, no job security issues, and generally, the day to day tasks I'm faced with are very easily handled.  I've been doing this for 17 years now.

I don't want it anymore.  It is NOT interesting or challenging or in any way enjoyable.  Its a goddamned paycheck is what it is.  For what?  So I can have three cars and eat steak instead of hot dogs?  Yes, I have another person to feed, clothe, and shelter with Shelby.  You know what?  She likes hot dogs and reading books.  She's just fine being entertained by an old smartphone with no service plan and wathcing netflix on the shattered screen.

We (including Megan) are not materialistic.  I worked so we had health insurance to keep Megan alive as long as she did.  She knew I was miserable, but it was a reality that I needed to pursue this career to keep her healthy.  I have the money, so I buy shit, simple as that.

So where would I like to be in five years?  Someplace else, geographically, mentally, and financially.  I'll keep working in IT as long as I need to in order to reach that goal.  I'll pay off whatever debt we have, ensure we're stable, sell some things, and start a new life for both of us, on my own terms.  I'm older and wiser now than when I was 17 and shipping off to boot camp.  I can decipher the things I need versus the things I simply want.

What I need is for Shelby to be smart, happy, well adjusted, and ready to be her own woman and make her own decisions when she grows up.  I have no doubt she will achieve that goal I've set for her in whatever way her amazing little brain and heart decides.  I'm going to make sure that little girl grows up to rule the goddamned world.

What I want is for that to occur, but to finally be doing what I really desire, which is wandering the wilds.  There are ways to do this, and even to still monetize it.  Something I've always wanted is to be a wilderness guide.  NOLS offers these courses, allowing me to become certified to do just that.  In five years, if I play my cards right, I could be wandering the Rockies or Appalachians, taking people with me, and teaching them all about the wonders of these places and how to appreciate them.  Yes, I already have the background experience.  I'm self taught.  Now I have the means to make it official by taking a course.  Yes, it sounds all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but hell, I do this stuff for free now.  

Talk about a life change.  Honestly, I've been keeping up with the Jonses for so long, over half of my life, that I don't even know exactly how to roadmap something like this.  What I do know, is that when I was 8 or 9 years old, I would pour over trail guides and maps of wherever we would be taking a family vacation, and I would plan the entire day out and know the ins-and-outs of every single trail or overlook we would be passing.  I could tell you exactly what species of maple tree you were looking at, even in winter.  I could forage for ramps, berries, watercress, and any other multitude of edible plant.  (I still make dendelion salds from the weeds in my front yard from time to time)  I've wanted to guide people into the woods for that long.  I could pack my bags in about 15 minutes, drive to Dolly Sods in West Virginia, and get someone to any single point in that federal wilderness without so much as a glance at a map.  I want to do that for people.

I want to be a modern day Mors Kochanski, John Muir, Ansel Adams, and Henry David Thoreau all rolled into one.  I want to be the person, as an adult, that can shepherd a group of unassuming "city folk" into the back of beyond, and show them why these places are so special.  I want to make sure that that 8 year old me, pouring over trail guides, learning how to use a compass, reading books upon books about the wilderness and how to survive and thrive in it is brought out in people of any age.  I want to write about it for those that aren't there, in those spaces, and make them want be there with simple words.

I don't care about money, fame, or fortune.  I really don't.  I care about Shelby.  We don't need a little house with a white picket fence, two dogs, three cars, and cable TV to be healthy, smart, and happy.  She already has that same love for nature and learning about it that I did when I was 8 years old.  She grabs a map at every trailhead we go to.  She reads books about wildflowers, insects, trees, and mountains.  She can sit, starry-eyed, and just flip through a photo book of the Grand Canyon or Yosemite, and can tell you all about the various landmarks at a glance, without ever having been there.  She is my doppelganger.

So, where do I want to be in five years?  I want to be shepherding people like Shelby, regardless of their age, over the river and through the woods to what could be their own calling or love.  If people pay me to do that, all the better.  I think I've finally come to the realization though, that through all this time, it's the one "job" that no one would ever have to pay me to do.

7 comments:

  1. Mike, I was just asked this exact same question at an interview today. I said that I don't have a crystal ball and I can't pinpoint exactly what I'll be in 5 years in that company (come on, it's a bullshit question). All I know is that I'm walking in the right direction.

    Life is an adventure and it's way to short to have everything planned out 100%. It's dynamic and not static.

    I love your conviction to pursue the great outdoors - I can literally feel it radiating through my screen. I hope you have enough finances to leave ur debilitating rat cage to pursue what you want.

    Like you, I like the simple life, a good hot dog with good company by the streets. Nothing, I mean nothing beats that.

    To hell with the joneses...enough of people telling us what we need to have, places we need to travel to, gadgets that we need to own. Heck, screw all that crap and start sucking the marrow out of life. That is why I'm aggressively pursuing financial independence right now, for the main reason that it will allow me to do what I want - hopefully at a young age.

    By the way, have you read "Walden on Wheels"? Promise you that there will be so much in that book that you can relate to. Especially those relating to the rat cage and the great outdoors.

    You remind me of the author.

    I love your writing and thanks for reaching out to me. Now I've found a new blog to add to my reading list.

    Cheers,
    Josh

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Josh,

      "Sucking the marrow out of life" is right! Having lost my wife when we were trying to do just that has given me an even stronger determination to get off the hamster wheel.

      I actually order Walden on Wheels just yesterday, and I'm definitely looking forward to reading!

      Thank you for the comment and the compliments!
      Mike

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    2. I can tell that your wife was the centre of your life. I'm so sorry abou that. But you know what they say? When you've hit rock bottom, the only way you can go is up.

      And that is one of my fav books! Very raw and true.

      Keep in touch Mike and just give me buzz anytime if you wanna chat or discuss about anything.

      Cheers,
      Josh

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  2. dear Mike,

    I so want to be where your are - nurturing a passion you love and determined to find a way to integrate it into your life, living, breathing, sharing it with others and never feeling it's a job. and it sounds as though your Shelby is following in your footsteps, which is entirely awesome! from what I have read, the wonder of discovery in the wilderness is definitely in your blood from a very young age, and it has remained as a constant, both for comfort and a vision of the future. there is so much in nature that can inspire us with amazement and delight, but much of it goes unseen, unexplored and we are the poorer for it. and sadly, we seem as a culture to be distracted by shiny objects that have no lasting value. I am here, cheering you on to your goal; and I can't wait to see how it evolves!

    be well, and carry on, Man!

    Karen

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  3. Hi Mike,

    I read your comment on one of Josh's recent posts and wanted to read your story. If someone were to ask me that question right now, all I can say is I do not want to be at my current job. I have been there for just over four and am the point where I want to quit every single day. My job is also not interesting, challenging, or enjoyable. Yet people stay at the job. Perhaps it may be that they actually like it or appreciate the perks (the paid leave, health benefits and lots of overtime) or maybe they have no choice to stay.

    My job doesn't even pay that well (at least in my opinion. It helps that I too do not care so much about the latest Apple product or fancy cars)I have actually been considering a career change the past couple of months because all the effort I'm putting into my current job is getting me nowhere.

    I'm terribly sorry for your loss and I can't even imagine what it was like to go through it all. I think you are a hero though, to your late wife and your lovely daughter.

    I wish you all the best.

    Karen

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  4. I found you by way of White Collar Freedom. I love your post, and I love that you know what you want. My husband and I are living frugally now to retire in 10 years, but I am still trying to figure out what "retirement" will look like for me. I envy your clear vision of what you want your life to be. I have no doubt you will make it happen.

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  5. Tks very much for your post.

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