DO you know what you’ll be doing in five years’ time? Research shows that more of us are planning our futures with such precision we know the year we want to marry and get pregnant.
Even Prince Harry’s girlfriend Meghan Markle is said to have a strict five-year plan, so speculation that he is about to propose will be welcome news for the actress. But is such meticulous mapping a good idea?
JENNY FRANCIS speaks to three women about their life goals, and psychologist Emma Kenny reveals the pros and cons of planning ahead.
More exciting taking each day as it comes
BEAUTY therapist Melissa Walker, 33, never plans things in advance, instead finding happiness from living in the moment. The singleton from Penge, South East London, says:
My friends think I’m mad for not being stressed about being single in my 30s.
I watch single pals freaking out trying to squeeze in three dates a week just so they can meet Mr Right.
People who make life plans end up compromising relationships and kid themselves that things are perfect, just so they can hit deadlines.
They’ll put up with less than perfect guys to tick “wedding” off their list. I just won’t do that.
It doesn’t matter if I get married late if I find the love of my life.
If this means I’m too old to have children then that’s something I’ll deal with.
It’s better to be childless and happy than bring them up with the wrong guy. Even with holidays, I leave the decision-making until the last moment so I choose somewhere I want to go to then, rather than somewhere with a cheap deal ahead of time.
I have no idea what I’m doing next week, never mind next year. I get more out of life taking each day as it comes.
I love my job, but I just fell into working in the beauty industry and I love it.
You cannot plan for the future. Life doesn’t work that way.
Emma says: “Living for the moment can be psychologically positive, as stress levels are lower and happiness higher.
“Enjoying life in the here and now means you often fully experience what you’ve achieved as opposed to longing for what you haven’t.”
Emma says: “If at some point in the future you want to buy a house, have a pension or kids, then going with the flow can mean you get left behind.
“All that joyful energy can turn into anxiety and you might regret leaving things too late.”
Setting up key things makes it all more carefree later on
ORGANISED Bekki Dagnall has a solid five-year plan and says she will stick to every date to achieve her goals.
The 23-year-old university student from Taunton, Somerset, lives with boyfriend-of-three-years Josh Hands, 27, an electrician. She says:
After my A levels I started working in travel, thinking I’d become an air hostess or holiday rep, travelling the world and enjoying myself.
But when I thought ahead to turning 30 and starting a family, I realised travelling wasn’t good for a long-term plan.
Instead, I decided to do a healthcare course then go to university to study to become an operating department practitioner.
I started university at 22, and knew I’d qualify in July 2018 so I’ve started my plan there.
Within the first year of my new job, I’ll get a promotion and start saving £800 per month.
By the end of 2019 I’ll have saved £10,000, and if my boyfriend does the same we’ll have enough to buy a house by January 2020. After moving into our first home, in March 2020 I want to own a dog.
I plan to be engaged by the start of 2021, and I’ve already told Josh I’d like a short engagement. That way I can get married before I’m 30.
In my plan we’ll start saving for a wedding during 2022, with the view of getting hitched within 12 months.
And I want to try for a baby after the wedding, so I’ll be pregnant before my 30th birthday. It’s about setting up the key things in my life, career, house, marriage and pregnancy.
Once that’s done I can be more carefree.
Emma says: “If you plan to have kids by 35, if you do have any conception issues you’ll be able to address them as early as possible, giving you more time.”
Emma says: “By fitting your relationship into your plan, you may not think about whether this is who you actually want to spend your life with.
“Planning can also lead to disappointment and increasing stress levels if things like proposals and pregnancy don’t happen when you want.”
My long-term plan is a mental pledge that helps me achieve
PRIMARY school teacher Danielle Russell says she couldn’t get through the next decade without having planned out every year.
The single 28-year-old, who is mum to 16-month-old son Ricco, has mapped out everything from more kids to getting a toned bum.
Danielle, of Deptford, South East London, says:
Having a long-term plan helps you achieve things — I’ve made a mental commitment to myself.
I have planned to put £5 a week into a money tin, which I bank every 12 months.
This year I started putting as much money as possible into my son Ricco’s saving account.
Next year I’ll take him on his first holiday abroad.
Then, for the rest of 2018 and into 2019, I’ll spend 12 months improving my health. I’m going to start a healthy diet and daily workouts.
January 2019 marks the start of my “career year”.
I plan to give up my job as a teacher and do a six-month course to become a registered childminder.
In 2020 I will become an accredited childminder, working self-employed from my home for two years, then I’ll start my own nursery business.
Once my career goals are sorted, I’ll switch to finding love.
I want to be married in ten years’ time so I’ll start dating in 2023 — giving me two years to find a man, move in and get engaged by 2025.
I plan to marry in 2026. In late 2026 or early 2027 I plan to fall pregnant.
I write plans for smaller things too like weekly meal plans and 30-day squat challenges to get a better bum.
Emma says: “A ten-year plan means you know what you want.
“Being financially prepared can make the future a lot easier and enjoyable.
“You rarely waste time on things or people that are not as equally driven as you.”
Emma says: “Being so inflexible means you lose spontaneity.
“A ten-year plan like this can mean you settle for the wrong guy, feel like a failure if you don’t meat deadlines and miss out on opportunities that could provide you with happiness.”