“Where Do You Want to Be in Five Years?”

We’ve reached that time of the program where all things are wrapping up (even as we are just beginning our spring semester at the University). We are roughly two months and a little over a week from the end our time as Fulbright ETAs in Brazil!

Normally, by now, I have my next move planned. In fact, usually I will have been planning that move for a few years, letting it marinate in the back of my mind until I’m ready to act. About a month and a half ago, I found myself in a panic with no set future plans and a world of possibilities. In the 25 years that I have been exploring everything around me, I had never been at the crossroads of no job and no set place that I am going.

Now, that isn’t to say that ideas weren’t marinating in the back of my head. There are some programs I am interested in, some degrees I’d like to pursue, and I do love teaching elementary students. But, for the first time, my future wasn’t set, it was full of possibilities, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted.

For those of you that don’t know, Fulbright Brazil offers the unique opportunity for ETAs to apply and receive another ETA grant but take on more responsibilities through their mentor position. Everything about that screamed my name…except for the scheduling conflicts with all the things I could miss. For most of you perhaps, it would be ridiculous to give up the opportunity to live in Brazil for another nine months just so you could attend a plethora of family and friends’ weddings (some of which have been in my life since Kindergarten). But after having lived away for the last 7 years (2 years and 2 months of that abroad), the idea of missing more left me in a state of unrest.

I’m ever thankful for S. for allowing me to talk through options and process the pros and cons between moving home(ish) and staying abroad. However, the most helpful advice…as all helpful advice…came from my mother.

“Where do you want to be in 5 years?”

“And how fast do you want to get there?”

That hit me like a freight train. Not just an empty freight train ready to be loaded and shipped…a fully stocked freight train traveling at full speed down the straightest downhill track it could find.

I had been blessed through my graduate program (ACE at the University of Notre Dame) to learn more about discernment, prayer, and reflection, and that brought me a slice of peace. But I still felt like I didn’t have any answers. So in my spare time, I spent the days doing two of the things I do best, making lists and overthinking.

5 years. I would be 30. What did I want to have accomplished by 30? I had no idea. But there were things I knew about myself, for example I wanted to start StandUp Paddle boarding and Kayaking more, so I started a hobbies column. I wanted to visit new places. Okay Travel column.

By the end I had 7 columns, each only allotted five ideas/goals.

  1. Personal (like own a dog)
  2. Professional/Academic (because I feel those for me go hand in hand)
  3. Travel (a few abroad locations and a few US locations)
  4. Try (things I wanted to do at least once, like scuba diving or parasailing)
  5. Hobby (kayaking, SUP, hunt/fish, more live music)
  6. Spiritual (goals in my faith life and finding a church community)
  7. General Goals (Aka 5 Self-Improvements to work towards being a better person)

Of course, I couldn’t stop there, so next came the lists of what I needed to achieve each goal…and the next step I could take in that direction.

Last, but not least, I picked five things to start working on now.

While the next five years are completely flexible and up in the air, I needed to take time to remind myself of my own aspirations and passions. Now knowing them, it wouldn’t be right to not pursue at least some.

As for now, I’m fixing up my Cover Letter and Resume, saving up and planning out a few trips, deciding in which baskets I’ll place my eggs, and spending a lot more time praying over it. Although…I am pretty excited about the potential baskets, so stay tuned as those eggs hatch!


No intentional strong illusions to chicken farming in my future…unless living temporarily at home starting in November counts! 😉




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