24 Apr 2013

plans, back-up plans, back-up back-up plans...

This is a different post to usual, but I thought I'd write it anyway. I am not here to lecture, I just wanted to share my own experiences in my short life so far as it might help someone out there and that is enough for me :)

We all have them: plans. And quite often we have back-up plans, and a back-up plan for that back-up plan and so on. From a young age, I was taught to aspire for something - but for something I, myself, wanted and this meant having plans. At the age of fourteen, I was sure that I would go to university and study something academic (as, at the time, I held the belief that something academic would give me a better grounding for the future), graduate, get married at the age of 23 or so, have my first kid at 25, etc.

My plans when I was 18 months old... Kidding. My plans when I was fourteen, in a pictorial format.

Of course, mapping out your future doesn't always go to plan. At the age of sixteen, my aspirations changed - I decided I wanted to be a doctor in the future but that plan was scuppered when I failed to get an offer for an undergraduate medicine course at the age of eighteen. And so, I executed my back-up plan and went to a high-ranking university to study something academic.

The day where I pranced around and pretended I was in a Harry Potter book...

After graduation, my plan was to try and get onto a 'graduate-entry medicine' course, but I knew what the odds were and was realistic. I had made a back-up plan - to try and find a job in PR and marketing, or look to do a PGCE and then teach in Hong Kong if all my dream of studying medicine were to fall through. I was now 22 and my original plan to get married at the age of 23 was looking more and more unlikely because the thing that predominantly occupied my mind was to find a career that I would want to be doing in twenty years' time.

You'll notice that I put a 'date' for each action. I gave myself a 'deadline' for each thing and made sure I set aside time to research each option as thoroughly as possible.

Luckily, my first choice plan worked out - but that was the first time in my life that this has happened. When I was eighteen, I had to go with my back-up plan, and then when I was 21 and fresh out of university, I decided to draw up a new 'life plan' (well, why not?). Being a graduate is more glamorous than it sounds - finding a job is hard, especially if you aren't sure of what you want to go into (I had spent my summers doing work experience within a healthcare setting and so, to find a job in another sector with no experience is hard).

Credit: Kush and Wizdom

So what is the point of this blog post? Well, my point is this: to have plans is not a bad thing but be prepared to change them if your circumstances change. Bounce back and be prepared to take the long road to get to where you want to be. As I've grown up, my plans have changed from personal to work-related ones and I don't see this as a bad thing. Yes, I'd love to get married, have kids and whatnot but those things are out of my control whereas my career and future working life is not (to an extent).

For instance, when applying for Medicine last year, my back-up plan if I were to be unsuccessful was to undertake a Masters course in something health-science related and then reapply. That is what I'd call taking the 'long road' as for graduate-entry Medicine, one doesn't need a Masters to be able to apply. I think that if you want something enough, you'll do anything to get it and that is why I was willing to do this if needs be.

Now? I have another plan but time will only tell how that will pan out. Here is how it looks:

Purely career related. Nothing personal in it as I've recognised that I can't control that aspect of my life.

My mum always said that it is all well and good to plan out things in life, but the preparation must be there in case there is a sudden change in circumstances. And I agree with her - looking back at how I had planned out my life to be, I have undertaken a lot of changes to my life plan and I don't regret a single one. And that's how it should be - to take everything that is thrown at you, turn it into (invaluable) experience, alter your plans slightly and move on but with your sights still firmly on that end goal you have set yourself.

This end goal can be anything. For instance, mine is to be happy in as many aspects of life as possible. And quite honestly, right now, I think I can say that I am. My career prospects are looking peachy and is exactly what I want to do; I am surrounded by family and friends who care a lot for me and I for them and my social life is where I want it to be.

Credit: Tumblr

Overall, I'd say that my new life plan is going swimmingly. And so I will leave you with this: when it feels like your plan is falling to pieces, it's not - it just means that something better is around the corner and it's funny how life masks that into a lemon that is being thrown at you (to make lemonade of course). Unexpected things will happen but it is how you pick yourself up from these occasions that will make you a stronger and better person.


  1. Interesting... mine went in the reverse direction..

    Work in existing job and get in 42 years of service, hope to get promoted to Lab Manager. Retire at 60... Move to France.

    Became... Work for 30 years, got to Deputy Lab Manager, got made redundant :( Good pay off though :) Took a gap year off, found another job, bought a house in France. Worked for another 4 years. Retired at age 51 and moved to France.

    And you know the rest!

    1. And clearly, it all worked out well for you in the end :) or even better as you retired earlier than planned :D x

  2. Thank you so much for this post, Angela! I've also had experiences of plans changing. When I graduated from high school I had dreams of pursuing a Ph.D. in physics and one day working as a researcher, but, even though I did well in my physics classes, halfway through my third year at university I realized that I did not want physics to be my career after all. I ended up graduating a year and a half later than I had planned with a degree in a totally different field (ecology and resource management), but I still did not feel happy with where my life was going. I still can't say that I have everything figured out, but I finally know that my true passion is in writing and that having a career in writing is where I truly want to go. Thanks for reminding me that it's okay to have plans fall apart, and that better things are around the corner :)

    1. No problem! :-) I have had moments where I felt depressed that nothing was going to plan but I've come to realise that is what life is all about. Nothing ever goes to plan and that is ok :-)

      Hope things work out for you in the end (I'm sure they will :D) xxx

  3. This is a fantastic post and extremely relevant to myself, as a fifteen year old girl from Hong Kong, I have huge aspirations to study natural science in the UK soon. I often question myself what I want to do with the degree, because as of right now, medicine is definitely not something I want to go into, I would prefer a more academic degree in sciences.

    I love how your post relates to me so so much! I have the same aspirations as you did, get into a good uni, get married and have kids before I am too old! I really am confused but hopeful at the same time, how was your uni experience? Is biochemistry worth it?

    1. Thanks for the kind comments! I think talking about my uni experience won't be very helpful to others as I do believe that university is what YOU make of it :) You get back what you put in. Biochemistry - depends if you are interested in it or not. Personally, I found it dull and so, I wouldn't say it was worth it but I know others who really enjoyed it and are now pursuing PhDs in a subsection of biochemistry.

      You're still young and still have a few years yet before uni - go enjoy those years and worry about uni in one or two years' time :) After all, you might decide you want to do an arts subject at university instead as I remember when I was 15 and no way did I think I would be in the situation I am in at the age of 22 :-) and it's a happy situation now so yeah! xxx

  4. Love this post & best timing for me :) I do love the 'change around the corner' picture! Thank you for this post!

    1. Aw thank you! I love that picture too - I think it illustrated the point I was trying to make really well :) x

  5. Thanks for posting this! It was very insightful :')