Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Age of The Ten-Year Plan is Over

“What you think is the point is not the point at all but only the beginning of the sharpness.” ― Flann O'Brien, The Third Policeman  (Picture Credit)

And I just found out. I’ve always had an empty beer can to throw hard at people who ask six year old children what they want to be when they grow up. I’m six! I’m busy being a kid. Stop rushing me or I’ll give you some crap about being an astronaut or a crime-fighting cyber-warrior or a princess.

So, I don’t know how old I was when the first vague plans began to coalesce around my future. I don’t remember ever saying I wanted to be a middle-management career bureaucrat at Research-O-Rama University. But at some point I knew I wanted to get married, and have kids and have a house – although by then the white picket fence was out. Definitely wanted a hedge instead. These days I’m still planning. For when I can’t drive a car anymore and have to walk out for groceries. For downsizing so if I drop dead without warning my heirs won’t find a hidden porn stash or that puzzling collection of beer bottle caps. I’m planning where to put my DNR and my weed where they will be respectively easy and hard to find.

But this morning I spoke to some Gen-X people who said when an interviewer asked them what their ten year plan was they pretty much said: why bother? Wouldn’t that make them think you were a flake? I asked.  No: pragmatic, they replied. First, there are no opportunities for buying houses with or without picket fences unless your parents are friends with Mitt Romney on Facebook. Second, stuff happens. They said that at every point of their lives, if asked to guess where they would be even five years hence they never would have predicted themselves to be where they found themselves five years later. Why should tomorrow be different?

This is the age of uncertainty, at least for the generation of Baby Boomers’ children who took our advice and went to college only to find themselves with six-figure debts and no job opportunities. Instead of getting mad - or maybe after passing through the stages of denial and anger etc, - they have reached acceptance. And while they may not exactly embrace the uncertainty, they find no cause for anxiety. Like the anxiety I have, for example, about whether I’ll ditch the porn before I’m suddenly stabbed by a door-to-door bible salesman.

Maybe in ten years, I’ll be an astronaut, I said. You never know, they said.

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