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what do I want to do with the rest of my life?

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The end of the year is nearly upon us and it’s the time when people look backwards and forwards. Sometimes looking forwards means having goals and then working to achieve them.

I’m not a great goals person. They don’t motivate me all that well. It’s quite funny, because I’m not very good at routine tasks, either. I hate the laundry because it’s never done. Although I have a rich mental life, I’m not very good at imagining that my life will change. When I had a boyfriend I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be single, I’ve been single for a couple of years and I can’t picture how I’d ever have time for a relationship.

One of the things that’s interesting about my current life, is that I’m in my late twenties and I’m at the stage where people around me start settling down. People move in together, get married and have children – and they’re happy doing so.

I live in a provincial city, and whilst it’s a nice place, I never quite imagined settling down here – when I was a teenager, I always thought I’d live in London. Since I started to travel, I’ve wanted to live in Toronto, New York, Sydney, Boston, Amsterdam, and Wellington – and those are just the semi-practical ones. I really like big, busy, bustling and expensive cities.

I occasionally worry that life is passing me by. I still feel like I’m not really old enough to get married and have children, even though if I did have kids I’d actually be older than average. It’s not that I want these things, just that they’re what most of my contemporaries are going to be spending the next twenty to twenty-five years doing. Other than finding some childfree friends, what am I going to do instead?

When life gets like this, I look at my values and what makes me happy. Blogging makes happy. As does travel and music. I get quite a bit of fulfillment from my day job, and I have some awesome friends. I like my house, and I am definitely stuck here for the next few years as I’m about £10k in negative equity. Which means that nice little pipe dream about living somewhere more exciting is on indefinite hold. And aside from that, I’m actually sort of as close to living the dream as it’s reasonable to be at this stage in my life. Certainly, everything that is under my control is ok or better.

What then, should my financial direction be for the next year or more? Should I save up for five years and then maybe sell up and emigrate? (Watch out Canadians – Toronto is probably my best intersection of interest, location and visa possibilities.) Or should I focus on fulfilling some of my smaller ambitions – spending more on travel, or music, or both?

All of this introspection is only worthwhile because I have a good job, no consumer debt and can save more than I earn. I don’t have limitless possibilities, but it’s not all that bad. Of course, there’s definitely a risk that the house could bankrupt me. And any one of a number of things could happen in the next year to derail my cosy little existence.

I’m not financially independent, but I’m almost financially stable and it’s a great comfort. Of course, I don’t need to make any decisions yet – I’m planning on putting the spare money away automagically and deciding later on – but it’s something I’m bearing in mind. What is it exactly, that I want to do with the rest of my life?

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13 comments for “what do I want to do with the rest of my life?”

  1. Come on over to Canada, we’d love to have you. Before you come you should spend some time on the East Coast, like Halifax, Moncton, and Saint John. You’ve already had some time in Toronto, life is a lot slower out on the east coast. As a plus, property values are reasonable out this way ( http://www.crea.ca/public/news_stats/statistics.htm ).

    You may want to try in the other direction and try out the mountains too in British Columbia or Alberta, both really fantastic spots. Give them a trip before you decide to move here and get caught up in Toronto without having seen the other choices.

    Posted by Traciatim | December 22, 2008, 10:08 pm
  2. This post is a bit downbeat, is everything okay? But yes, come to Canada, we’re friendly here and need reinforcements to help shovel snow.

    Posted by guinness416 | December 23, 2008, 1:23 am
  3. You’re definitely welcome in Toronto! :)

    Funny, how it’s all Canucks commenting!


    Posted by Four Pillars | December 23, 2008, 3:27 am
  4. Sydney. To die for!

    I wonder what it would cost for a young person who’s already a British citizen to emigrate there. If you could find a job before you moved, would the employer help defray the expense?

    It’s an incredible city, reminiscent of San Francisco but of course very different. Australia is an amazing place. So, for that matter, is New Zealand, but it’s not where I’d go if I wanted to sample life in a major international urban hub.

    Do you speak any continental languages? Have you ever thought about Paris or Rome? Or Vienna? Dang! To be young and unmarried again!!


    Posted by Funny about Money | December 23, 2008, 4:42 am
  5. There is something to be said for just enjoying life and not worrying about the rest of it. :)

    I also don’t think goals should be the end-all, be-all. If they are not sufficiently motivating, perhaps it’s because they’re not fully integrated in your present experience. I base my goals on what is going on now - ie, if, right now, I find something lacking, then my goal becomes adding that piece into my life.

    And Sydney sounds divine. I, for whatever reason, seem to like the less expensive but still bustling cities, like in S America and SE Asia.

    Posted by deepali | December 23, 2008, 4:09 pm
  6. Come over to the states. I’m in my young 20’s and feel like life is just cruising by. Still feel like HS was yesterday and am have not leaped into career mode, future family mode. Feel like I’m at a neutral point as well, and not sure what the future will look like or what I would do. Good to know others are like that.

    Posted by Craig | December 23, 2008, 8:46 pm
  7. @Traciatim:
    Absolutely, more travel in Canada would be a good thing. Realistically, if I were to move overseas it would probably be to a big city. I’m not into the outdoors at all, so in Canada that leaves Montreal, Toronto and maybe Vancouver. My French probably wouldn’t cope with working in Quebec and Vancouver is a long way away. I’m not averse to exploring other parts of Canada - maybe I’d fall in love with someplace else.

    Ugh, I’d forgotten about snow. But you have that cool underground thing going on right? And there’s a beach near the city and Canadians are nice and Toronto is really multicultural.
    I’m not feeling down so much as *meh*. Last week I had to travel to London on business for a couple of days and whenever I stay there I remember how much I really love proper big cities (there are no other big cities in the UK as I’m sure you know). And it doesn’t help that it’s a good job I love my house because I’m so stuck here for the next 5-ish years. I have always imagined that would live abroad for a bit and maybe at some point I’ll need to decide whether that’s something I really want, or whether I will be happy not having done so.

    @Funny about Money:
    Sydney is really nice. It’s certainly possible to emigrate to Australia if you’re British. I think costs would be in the several hundred pounds mark and if you find a job that has problems recruiting in Australia often employers will reimburse your expenses. It depends on the market, but the sort of work I do can fall into that bracket. You’re right about NZ - I have family out there, and even though I loved Wellington, it really and truly felt like I was at the far end of the world.
    As far as Europe goes, I speak some French and also have a smattering of Dutch and German. My French would be good enough to start living there, but not good enough to work professionally. My Dutch and German are strictly of the travel/holiday/vacation quality - I am awesome at asking for beer in Dutch (een bier alstublieft).

    You are so right about the not worrying. And that probably made-up goals aren’t really going to work. Not sure how to add the big city thing into my regular life. Maybe it calls for more travel? After all, everyone needs new places to fall in love with.
    Being practical, the sort of work that I do is really only found in busy, wealthy cities/countries. In SE Asia, probably Singapore or Hong Kong would be possibilities - my Spanish is non-existent and my Portuguese worse, which kind of rules out South America.

    It still amazes me that there are places in the States that I really love. It’s probably not the country for me however, although I don’t know how much that has to do with the complete impossibility of getting a work visa.
    I’m kind of in career mode, but not into grown up mode and I think it’s quite hard to start imagining what the future is going to look like, unless it’s going to be the same as the present. Which would be fine, but might get kinda dull after a while.

    Posted by plonkee | December 23, 2008, 9:17 pm
  8. @Four Pillars:
    Canadians rock. Although the choice of sports leaves something to be desired. Is it ok to just learn to like ice hockey or do I have to feign an interest in baseball like I would have to with the Yanks?

    Posted by plonkee | December 23, 2008, 9:19 pm
  9. Fwiw, all the Brits I work with here rent out the houses they own (in Liverpool, Cardiff, London). Don’t ever let a house tie you down!

    My brother in law, when moving to the US, bypassed new york and Chicago and SF etc and just moved straight to Hawaii. I always thought that was ballsy.

    If you don’t like baseball I’m not helping you move though. That stickball on ice stuff isn’t half as good.

    Posted by guinness416 | December 23, 2008, 9:44 pm
  10. If your preference is bustling like London, I’m not sure Toronto would really come close, in my experience. Vancouver certainly doesn’t feel like a bustling metropolis- but it is covered in beaches! And we have much less snow.
    I’ve been here 3 years and haven’t even had to feign an interest in ice hockey yet, but maybe that’s just my circle of friends although at least 3 of them are regular attendees.
    Canadians are lovely people though, even if their idea of good cheese is distressingly similar to Americans.

    Posted by Looby | December 24, 2008, 2:59 am
  11. You don’t have to be a hockey fan - especially if you talk with a funny accent.

    Don’t listen to Guinness - hockey is vastly superiour to baseball - although baseball definitely has it’s charms.

    Posted by Four Pillars | December 24, 2008, 3:01 am
  12. Not all us Yanks are into baseball. Frankly, I find it dreadfully boring. But you will have to find some sort of sport to be interested in. In a big city, it’s easier to enjoy the less conventional, like tennis or cycling.

    And I vote for Hong Kong. But, you might be surprised at where companies locate these days!

    Posted by deepali | December 24, 2008, 10:57 pm

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