The 5 Year Question.

5 year plan

There’s no right answer to someone’s five year plan.  Right?  It’s something I’ve been thinking about today after rounding up some advice from my family of close colleagues.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not exactly surprised that multiple people suggested that I should know what I want to do with my life over the next five years.  And when they say know, it sounds like KNOW… like really KNOW.

Pretty much all my life I have had a plan.  It’s the curse of the charismatic Capricorn; I was born with a to-do list in hand and pissed that I had to kick back for a few years to get the basics down.  Ya know, like walking and talking.

If that doesn’t give you a visual of who tiny Caz was, try this:  The first time I ever went to the Principal’s office, ran away from school, and found myself on a first name basis with the police – second grade.  That was also the first year of my first business.  During recess, I kept away in the far corner of our massive school grounds and dug up rocks, breaking them against larger rocks until I found the sparkly silver and gold like flecks on the inside.  Then I gathered piles of rocks into my shirt and wandered through the crowd of elementary children, selling them these pieces of sparkly paperweights at increasing rates.

I didn’t stop with just rocks, however.  Soon I was selling products door to door from a magazine my older siblings had sold from.  My commission was $2 a pop!  I was a millionaire in 7 year old terms!  After an afternoon of great selling success, I’d drag the typewriter to the game table in our basement and sort through magazines, dog-earring corners and adding little sticky notes to every page that had something I might want to buy (which, let’s face it… was EVERY page).  I’d wheel in a spreadsheet (no joke) onto the typewriter and start calculating the cost of rubber stamps, stickers, and clothes.  I’d add in the tax (which probably explains why figuring percents is still my finest math skill) and then divide the total into the number of sales I would need to make for all my dreams to come true.  I remember how the results seemed impossible.  But that was no excuse to give up.

Instead, I expanded.  Much to my Mother’s eventual embarrassment, I started selling EVERYTHING door to door.  I started with recipes.  I rummaged through my Mom’s desk to find a stack of notecards and wrote recipes down in my somewhat dyslexic seven year old script.  Mind you, I didn’t actually know these recipes, I just knew what was in my favorite foods (which is probably why to this day I can manage a makeshift recipe for almost any dish simply by tasting it).  The notecards went something like this:

Aperecot Chikn
1 chikn
yummy sawce
nodles
cook at 125 *

You wouldn’t guess that my inaccurate recipes would be a big hit with the neighbors.  In hindsight, it seems obvious that I could do no wrong.  I was cute as a freakin button and constantly driven by wide eyed dreams… that always had a need for a little extra cash (enter: lifelong work ethic).

With no more recipes in my repertoire, I moved on to paintings and sold them as “fundraisers.”  I knew the term from the inevitable yearly wrapping paper and cookies that kids from school have been selling since the beginning of time, but I didn’t exactly know that it might possibly be considered controversial to be fundraising for myself.  After paintings (which, mind you, I did with water color at the table in about five seconds flat – 25 paintings in one afternoon that seemed to be born half Monet, half Jackson Pollock), came stories.

My stories were the real money pit and also a real shame.  My shame is only in not having any copies of my stories anymore.  One copy remained of a story about a runaway tree and yet, I have no idea what I have done with it in recent years.

Regardless, it was in this 7 to 8 year old threshold that I started writing.  I would construct the perfect story – beginning, middle, end – before illustrating it and binding it with colorful paper and my Mom’s stapler.  I was smart enough to make multiple copies of the same story.  This would surely be a big hit with the neighbors!  And it was…

$1.50 for my finest story was not enough for me.  This is when I started running out to the neighbor’s houses multiple times in one afternoon.  “Here’s a story… try a new recipe…” and my personal favorite?  The brilliant marketing moment of my life when I went out at 4:45pm, just before dinner, and sold NAPKINS!

This is when my Mother found out.  I had sold a Sam’s Club sized package of napkins to the neighbors and left her with nothing but our fine linen napkins we used on Sundays.  She was upset enough that no one ever asked how much I had made or to give back the money.  Instead, I took the slight swat on the butt before quickly running downstairs, pushing past my sister’s shoes to get to the jar of cash I had made from all my business endeavors.

I remember, one time, before we moved away from my first neighborhood I had pocketed some of the money I had made running a Tang stand (because let’s face it, Tang easily up-sells lemonade) and hiked up the street to the Alexander’s house where some of the kids had a lemonade stand of their own.  But I wasn’t interested in lemonade.  As a successful eight year old, I was interested in an investment.  So I swindled their near five year old little sister into selling me her brand new, still boxed, collector’s edition Barbie for just 50 cents.  Instant $48.50 profit!

All my Mom had to do was give me a look of death for me to march right back up the hill and give back the Barbie without getting my 50 cents in return.  So I went back to the safe stuff and sold rocks until we moved far away from any mountains where, being one of the only kids in school to even have a personal computer, I printed massive amounts of clipart and sold coloring books to students.  By this time, I was bringing home $20 a week that I would use for extra nerdy endeavors like buying rocks of my own and non-fiction books about geology or water displacement for the measurement of mass.  Yea… that was me, and only at this point in my life do I find my tiny self to be incredibly amusing.  For example, the realization as an adult that some of the clipart I sold included characters of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat.  I had no idea who they were, they were just part of one of those “8,000 clipart images” CD ROMs from back in the day when you first placed the CD inside a plastic case then shoved the entire case into the drive.

I started book clubs, libraries, baby sitters clubs, writing clubs, study groups, and pretty much anything you can think of.  I was President of everything, even if I had to bribe the voters or skew the final count.

I was the kind of girl that everyone took notice of in a way that was both a little weary and a bit enchanted.  Hence, my charisma.  But that’s all who I’ve been and where I’ve come from.  Those stories sparked many continuing goals that took me far in life as someone who most often only had me on my side.

When you’re young, a five year plan seems as obvious as the 25 year plan you were instilled with from day one.  Take good classes.  Get good grades.  Gain college credit.  Save your money.  Land a good job.  Get that internship.  Graduate with a Bachelors.  Graduate with a Masters.  Travel the world.  Start another business.  Write a book.  And… become a Global Marketing Executive.

A career plan always seems easy.  I always know what I want to DO with my life.  I want to be challenged to utilize my degree(s) more.  I want to have a handful of large contract marketing accounts that I am committed to with the intent of having secure work no matter where I choose to live in the world.  I want to work with Sony again because my Sony family has been a huge part of my life that pushed me through the good times and the bad.  I never want to get comfortable with life; to settle into a stay-at-home-anything and look back with regret that I never reached for the stars, especially when the possibility of a stellar life is just in front of me.  There’s a reason why I had Per Aspera Ad Astra as my first tattoo.

I can see myself managing contract accounts, rocking out as a Social Media Strategist or Marketing Manager for musicians and record labels, starting a whole new business I intend to expand into offices, warehouses, and employees, and continuing to write through the half a dozen book ideas I have.

But what of the rest?  Stark and I have been floating between realities of the choices we might make that would send us down some distinct paths and possibly even push us into that next, obvious five year plan.  There are certain things we know, without a doubt.  We know that if we are going to have a family, we want to be outside of the United States.  We know just the kind of career choices we want to make that would satisfy our personal goals and amplify our quality of life from the inside out.  I know I want to pay off my student loans before making any significant life choices (like having kids).  He knows he wants to invest in another property here or there.  But the rest is penciled in, at best.

In combining what we think and what we know, the rest can seem a little complicated and at times, a lot of pressure (at least for me).  It seems to me that the older one gets, the less defined their five year plan becomes, and the more people you take in as your new found “immediate family,” the less your choices seem to be all about you.  There’s no handbook.  There’s no right answer.

There’s just the general outline:
Don’t be that person who lives within 15 miles of where you were born (and right now, it’s about 2).  Continue writing and continue editing until I can say I have at least one published book in my lifetime.  Follow the path of some of those I look up to which, in turn, should make me an undeniable voice in the world of Marketing, a humble student of all music genres, a compelling story-teller, and a globetrotting philanthropist.  Be successful.  Be patient.  Be mindful.  Be a good person.  Be strong.  Be confident.  Be my greatest fan, my greatest critique, and my strongest confidant.  Be in the now.  Keep an eye towards the future.  And remember above all things to act as a human being and not get caught in too many human-doings.

What do you want to be in the next five years?

Moab Coffee Roasters Black Silk Dark Roast This post has been brought to you by Moab Coffee Roaster’s Black Silk (Dark Sumatra Roast) from the #Coffice of Caz. Are You With Caz*?
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