In the hours leading up to when I would officially turn 30 (back in 2016), I suddenly realized that all the long-term plans I’d set for myself had basically all stopped at 30. Perhaps it was because that was as far in the future as my 20-year-old self could think, or perhaps it was because I thought that by 30, I’d have my life trajectory more or less figured out, but I just didn’t really make plans for any further decade of my life, even when I was reaching my late twenties.
So, on my thirtieth birthday, I harnessed all the energy I felt from entering a new decade and sat down to make a list of my long-term plans.
You know what initially came to me?
Not because I didn’t have goals and plans, but because life, by then, had taught me over and OVER that often, even our best-laid plans end up coming to naught when unexpected circumstances arise and/or different opportunities come our way. Because of that, I was a bit hesitant to put anything down on paper—what if I was disappointed if I looked back in ten years and saw that I hadn’t completed any of it?
Also, I was mature enough to recognize that often, our hopes and dreams change a lot over time, based on experiences, changes in circumstances, and external factors outside of our control. After all, how many times had I sat down in January to set new year’s resolutions for the year ahead, only to discover by mid-way through the year that those goals just weren’t as important to me as I thought they’d be?
All this is to say that it was much more difficult to come up with any kind of plan than I thought it would be, but I still was able to come up with a few things. Because I had a few readers (in my recent reader survey) specifically request that I talk about my future plans, I figured I’d oblige you all by sharing how my hopes and dreams for the future stood at 30 (and I’ll make sure to mention on them if they still feel relevant to me now, at 31-and-a-third).
Also, it must be noted that I tried hard to just set goals for myself and my own personal aspirations, rather than trying to include Matt’s career goals here as well (though obviously, we talk through those together as a couple frequently and they are things we decide on together). It’s also hard to say where we’ll be living in ten years, since that basically depends entirely on Matt’s employment situation, which could go in a lot of different directions over the next decade. For now, we plan to live in our house for at least the next five years (just because we got a first-time homebuyers’ grant that stipulated we stay in the house that long if we didn’t want to have to pay it back), but we’ll see where life takes us after that.
My 3-Year Plan
- Save $15,000 for a down payment
- Our original plan was never to buy our house last year like we did–we instead had planned to save much more for a down payment than we did and then look into purchasing. However, once we started running the numbers and realized that we were likely to be in this area for the next five years at least, it didn’t make sense to keep renting when that money could be going toward ownership, so we ended up buying our home with only 3% down, rather than the 10-20% down I would have preferred. For the record, I am NOT SORRY AT ALL we did it the way we did. I absolutely adore our new house and neighborhood, and I’m so glad that we found such a great place to raise our family for the next several years.
- Find my niche in photography–what do I like to do best? What work best shows my style? Should I limit the kinds of sessions I offer to accommodate the answers to these questions?
- For these first few years I’ve been in the photography business, I’ve just been dabbling in a lot of different kinds of shoots, often just picking up whatever comes my way and learning as I go. (The only exception to this is that I have solidly refused up to this point to do weddings because I just don’t want to deal with that high level of stress right now as a photographer.) As I’ve had the experience to do several different kinds of shoots (family, extended family, individual portraits, couples/engagements, maternity, newborn, birth stories, lifestyle, etc.), I’m slowly realizing more and more what kinds of shoots invigorate me and which kinds of shoots I tend to dread. Going forward, I want to nail down my style more and also just start sticking with a few different kinds of shoots, rather than trying to do it all.
- Finish writing my book (final draft)
- Now, over a year after making this goal (with only two years to go), this goal is looking more and more hefty, but it is important to me, and it is something I want to complete. The greater likelihood is that I’ll be lucky have my first ROUGH draft done at the end of 3 years, but we’ll see.
- Run a half marathon in under two hours
- This has been a bucket list item of mine for quite awhile, and I was sooooo close at my last half that this is one I feel I’ll be able to do once I can get back to running postpartum.
- Figure out if doing storage shed auctions is something we want to pursue long-term
- Matt and I recently acquired a huge van (used) from his parents with the sole purpose of having a vehicle that is able to transport larger items, which is something we were missing the first few storage sheds that we bought. Now that we have a house of our own with more storage space than our two-bedroom apartment before AND a vehicle to move big things, we’re going to play around a bit more with purchasing up storage sheds before we decide for sure one way or another if it’s something we want to do long-term.
- Have another kid, be pregnant with a third
- Had I not miscarried my second pregnancy, I would have had a baby last October, which meant that this was one dream that was pretty feasible still. As it is, we’ll just have to see—I like the idea of having at least a two-ish year gap between kids, and I also recognize that my body might have other plans that could mess with my goals for our future family (as it did after I had my daughter).
- Continue to stay at home with my kids, but keep my teaching license current
- A few readers in the survey wondered if I had plans to return to teaching anytime soon, and the answer for now is no, at least not for the next several years. I do still plan to keep my license current, though, as it’s a beast to renew if you let it expire.
My 5-Year Plan
- Buy a house (and have a plan for paying it off early)
- It feels pretty good to already have one of my five-year plan goals checked off, even if paying it off will be a slower process since our down payment was so minimal. We are currently paying an extra $50/month on our mortgage, and we plan to pay $1000/extra per year for the first few years (which means that we’ll need to pay a lump sum of at least $400 at some other point in this year, either from a tax return or something like that). As Matt gets further raises and promotions at his job, we will start putting more towards the mortgage, but we want to have a fully-funded emergency fund first (right now we only have about 2-3 months’ worth of expenses saved up and we’d like 5 or 6), and we also want to prioritize saving more towards retirement before upping the amount on our mortgage. So just $1000 extra per year is probably what it will be for a couple years, at least.
- Be an established photographer (though not full-time)
- While I have small children at home, I have no desire to return to full-time work if I can help it, but I like that with photography, I can schedule when the shoots take place and do the editing during naptimes or in the evening. By “established,” I mean that I want to be charging more professional-level prices (for a long time, I did shoots at SUPER cheap prices while I was getting experience, but I’ve been slowly raising them every year), and I also want to be able to be booking a couple dozen shoots in a year, at least (ideally around 2-4 a month).
My 10-Year Plan
- Be the mother of 4 or 5 kids
- The question of how many kids to have is a tough one (and obviously a personal decision), and it’s also hard to answer because currently, I only know what it’s like to have ONE kid, so we’ll see when I have more if I still think this is a good number for us. However, whenever I pictured my future family when I was younger, it always included at least this many, so if my health and my age and our financial situation allows it, I am still happy with the idea of having that many.
- Publish my book
- Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to get a book published, though it took me until my mid-twenties for me to even get a good idea for one. Now I just need to finish it so this can even seem like a remote possibility.
- Still be in good running shape
- Staying healthy and active is really important to me now and has been important to me for the better part of my life, so I’m hoping that even adding a lot more kids to our family and other responsibilities won’t ever crowd that out. Admittedly, if I am able to have five kids, I might not be physically capable of running like I used to, but I’m at least going to stay physically fit.
- Start looking into teaching part-time or full-time again
- When my youngest child is in pre-school or kindergarten, I want to start looking into teaching again. Though I believe teaching is one of the hardest professions in the world, I still found it rewarding enough (most of the time) to be worth returning to. When I return, it might not be to the 7th grade level (I’ve always wanted to teach high school, so I’d probably give that a shot first), but we will see how I feel about it all when the time comes up again.
And that, my friends, is about as much planning as I’ve done with my life over the next ten years! Honestly, I’m just excited to see what opportunities come our way, and I’m open to changing the plans as often as we need to (which is a BIG step forward from how I used to be at age 20!).