Call Me Crazy: My 40-year Plan to Happiness

I’ve never really been one for planning for the future. Planning one year ahead, that’s the furthest I’ve gone since I started studying. And I liked it that way you know.

2008: I finished secondary school and decided to try my luck at uni in Brussels, studying English and Dutch philology: linguistics and literature. Stick it out for at least a year, see if I can make something of it. 2009: I could. So I went for the second year. Which is when I started planning my first year abroad, an exchange to Finland. 2010: When I was in Finland for that glorious adventure, I had to think about what to do when I got back. I’d only have an academic bachelor’s degree, and in Belgium you really need a master’s as well if you want to get a job in your field of study. But I really didn’t know what to pick. So I planned a gap year in Ireland as an au pair. 2011: Once in gorgeous Ireland, I had to figure out which master’s to do when I got back. 2012: I went for a master’s in linguistics in my home town, Leuven. And of course, having been bitten severely by the travel bug by then, graduating meant going on another crazy adventure: to Australia. 2013: During that travel-and-work-my-way-around-Straya year, I wrote a project proposal and prepared for the job interview as a PhD student for the year after. 2014: I left Australia with a boyfriend across the Channel and a job interview scheduled the week after I got back. I got the job. 2015: The boyfriend moved over. 2016: Three more years of this job to go.

So as you can see, the last 7 years have been absolutely amazing and inspiring, only by planning year by year.

But I guess I’m too old for that now. I know some of you people out there disagree, you would say I can still throw things around. But my reality is that I have a 4-year contract at work (three more years to go) and a three year lease on the apartment. So like I have mentioned in several of my previous posts: the boyfriend and I are kind of stuck here for a while.

But that doesn’t mean my one year adventure planning has stopped. Only now all these plans have to be planned to start only in three years time. And then suddenly I have my life planned out for the next 4o years. Ow dear.

This is what it’ll look like: finish my PhD and save up as much as we can! Go on another crazy adventure of about one year before we go back to the real world. Decide which country we want to (and are allowed to) live and work in next, probably the one where we’ll be for a long time since it is then time to settle down. Try to buy some property, an apartment, ideally a house. Start a family. Retire. Stay healthy. Go travel again. Help!

I thought people with long term plans like that only exist in movies, you know, those young women stuck in their little-girl dreams not wanting to live in reality. But here I am now. I have a 40-year plan. Before, I was even thinking of starting a scrapbook.

I started this blog a little bit less than a year ago to deal with my post-travel-blues. The blues haven’t left me yet. But now I am not trying to find glory in my little adventures in order to not miss the past, I am doing it to not worry about the future. The future isn’t here yet. And the way futures work, the future will never be here. So just to remind myself: enjoy the little things in life. Happiness will accompany me along the way. And thinking about the future isn’t going to get me anywhere. Because happiness isn’t a destination, it’s the road trip you take trying to get there while never actually reaching your endpoint.


 

(Just a quick side note: this last sentence isn’t my idea. I read it somewhere and have thought about it daily since, but I can’t remember where I found it.)

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