The Next Four Years

The Next Four Years

Today is all about looking ahead. As per any presidential inauguration, there was an inaugural address mapping out the direction and the course for the next four years. I, like many spectator/participants, will be watching closely in the coming years to see what gets accomplished and what does not. Certainly, the president has set a high bar for his next term. It is expected of the office that he will make clear his intentions on where and how he’d like to lead the country. But not only does he have to promise the nation monumental change, he has to follow through.

Reading the address, I wondered what it would be like if we were all asked to lay out the course of our lives for the next four years. What do we plan to accomplish? What would be our guiding principles? What challenges are we most focused on addressing? And then, at the end of those four years, how would we measure up against the things we said — the things we promised to those around us and to ourselves.

Recently, my boss asked me what my five year and 10 year plans are. He wanted to know what my goals would be for my career and how I planned to get there. To be honest, I was at a loss for an answer. I have no real clue what my long-term goals for my career are right now. I’m not sure if I want to end up in government/crisis communications, marketing, policy, back in journalism or (gasp) in law. The future, as I understand it, is not entirely up to me. For all of the plans I’ve made, very few have come to fruition. I have, however, had incredible experiences, been challenged and driven to take on projects with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that I never thought possible. I haven’t landed where I thought I might, but I don’t regret it for one minute.

That being said, I do know some things for certain — who I want to be in four years. Jobs change rather frequently in the new economy. The one thing that I can control is who I am in those jobs and with the people around me.

I want to be thoughtful, kind, driven and honest. I want to love passionately and work hard. When life gets rough, I don’t plan to crumble beneath the weight of the broken pieces on my shoulders. Instead I will brush them off, pick up what is usable and make something new.

As for the tangible plans of how I want to change my career, if I will seek a graduate degree or move home to the Carolinas, I’ll wait to announce my four year plan to the world. Frankly, I plan to work diligently to get my life in order and to grow closer to family and friends who matter most. That is enough for now and those, in the end, are the things that matter more. As long as I keep writing and spending time with those people I care about most, I think the next four years will turn out just fine.

What would be the content of your inaugural address? Where are you going in the next four years?

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