No Plan, No Problem: Why You Should Trust Your Future Self

“What are your future plans?”

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

“Do you ever want to settle down and start a family?”

“Where do you think you and Lee will live?”

“Are you going to eventually stop traveling and settle down?”

If we had a dollar for every time we were asked one of these questions, we would be able to afford to stay in quite a few more five star hotels while traveling around the world than we currently do!

Hitchhiking Newfoundland Canada
Hitchhiking in Newfoundland

Whenever people ask me about my future, I struggle to come up with an answer that satisfies them. Right now, the only thing I know for sure is that we have booked flights to Bangkok, Thailand at the end of June. Once we hit the ground in Southeast Asia we will decide where we want to go from there during our adventure traveling around the world. We might be traveling around Southeast Asia for two or three months, or we might love it there and decide to stay for longer. After that, our future is a blank slate which will likely be determined by whatever cheap flights come up on Skyscanner.

So you can see why it is hard to describe where I will be in five years when I don’t even know where I will be in five months. Sure, we might end up settling down at some point, but at the moment we are traveling around the world and that day is so far away that it isn’t even worth thinking about.

I didn’t used to be like this. Back in 2009 when I went backpacking in New Zealand by myself I was a naive, wide-eyed child trapped in an adult body. I was utterly terrified at the prospect of growing up and was overwhelmed by the seemingly insurmountable task of doing what I dreamed of in life. I used to panic that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish all that I set out to do and that my life would slip away before I was able to grab it with both hands.

Thankfully, I ended up working as a tour guide at a creepy old haunted prison by the sea on the North Island and met a confident, irreverent, hilarious and completely fearless English guy who also dreamed of traveling around the world. He took me by the hand and told me one of the most important lessons of my life:

“Life is easy, just trust your future self.”

At first I protested, spewing out all of the twisted angst in my head and asking how life could possibly be so easy when it was so damn confusing and overwhelming and complicated. But Lee just shook his head, told me I was ridiculous, and repeated his mantra: “Life is easy.”

The more we were together, the more the the knot of fear in my chest about the future began to slowly unravel. I began to realize that I didn’t need to make so many plans for the future because it was useless. Why would Present Time Kelly make decisions for Future Kelly, when Future Kelly is obviously more wise, experienced and knowledgeable about her situation? Present Time Kelly needs to worry about her own problems and leave the stuff that is happening years from now to Future Kelly. Lee gave me a huge gift, the confidence to trust myself to make the right decision when the time comes for that decision to be made.

Once I learned that lesson, I have been happier about my life than I have ever been before. It also makes traveling around the world into an exciting adventure because you never really know what is around the next corner. When we backpacked across Canada we focused on getting from one city to the next, letting the journey unfold as we went. It left us open for surprises, coincidences and fortuitous situations in a way that would never have happened if we had planned everything in advance.

Besides, when Sept 2009 Kelly met Lee in Napier she had absolutely no idea that March 2010 Kelly would be on a flight back to the UK with him, or that June 2011 Kelly would be taking him back to Canada to meet her family and friends. There was no way that we could have predicted or planned for a travel romance that truly went the distance and if I had stuck to rigid plans for where my life was going, I would have missed out on traveling around the world with the man that I love.

So if you are lying awake at night staring at the ceiling wondering about the future of your career, your love life, your travel plans, and what comes next in your life, STOP. Just Stop.

“Life is easy, just trust your future self.”

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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