Occasionally, I hear reference to a “five year plan” (or sometimes a 10-year or 15-year, or maybe an even bigger multiple of five). People talk about how they plan to be mayor of a town, have half a million dollars socked away, get credited in a major motion picture, or otherwise achieve some significant mile-marker in a “successful” life, all within five years. They organize their lives around these five year periods, and sweat blood and bullets trying to make fate conform to their carefully laid plans. They usually fail, and when they succeed in reaching that goal, they usually regret something about it, but sometimes people hit the jackpot and all is well.
I never really had a five year plan. What I have right now is a “keep trying to improve on where I am now” plan, when it comes to my life in general. Sometimes, I have a one year plan in mind, or something else along those lines, but that’s a matter of trying to set goals for getting done with things that I think will help — not for reaching particular plateaus in a stairway to some secular, material heaven later in life. For instance, I might decide that I’m going to read all the way through at least one of a particular class of technical book every two months for a year.
I’ve also had a multi-year plan of sorts that wasn’t so much a goal-oriented plan as just a “Well, this is what I’ll be doing with my life for a while.” That was when I joined the Army. I knew my contractually obligated term of service in advance, so I knew I’d be in the Army that long, barring disaster. That’s not really anywhere near the same thing as the typical five year plan.
I have a one-twelfth size equivalent to a five year plan in mind now, though. It’s not quite the total life goal thing that you hear about in five year plans, of course, but it’s a significant, goal-oriented pursuit with specific steps along the way. This five month plan looks a little something like this:
July: I intend to get a Ruger 10/22 rifle by the end of June. It’s a semi-automatic .22 rifle, suitable for varmint hunting perhaps, shooting beer cans for fun, and general rifle marksmanship practice. Once I put some Tech-SIGHTS and a USGI sling on it, it’ll be even more suited to rifle marksmanship practice. Through the month of July, I intend to practice with it quite a bit. After more than a decade out of the Army without any notable time behind a rifle, I definitely need the practice. I want to get back to the point where I can summon that “zen” state with a moment’s notice that let me hit 40 out of 40 targets in rifle marksmanship qualification when I was in the Army.
August: I’ll keep practicing. I’ll save money. I’ll get an associate membership with the RWVA, or a similarly qualifying club. I’ll submit my order for an M1 Garand rifle from the CMP. My military service exempts me from having to participate in a formal marksmanship class to qualify for CMP purchases — since I already got a lot of formal marksmanship training in the Army.
September: I’ll keep practicing. I’ll save money.
October: I’ll keep practicing. I’ll save money.
November: I’ll keep practicing. The CMP will probably get around to processing my order at some point this month, and they’ll charge me the money I’ve been saving. I’ll probably get the M1 Garand this month or the next (December).
As soon as I have that M1 Garand, I’m going to try really hard to hie myself to an Appleseed Project shooting event and get some training (one can never have enough training) — and of course shoot the hell out of the Garand for the short time between when it arrives and when I can get to an Appleseed event. I might go to an Appleseed Project shooting event sooner, but there aren’t any scheduled near enough that I could just drive to it and back each day, so I have to make a Weekend Trip out of it, and that requires real planning. I figure setting it at the end of the five month plan will give me a reasonable time to get around to it, so that I’m highly unlikely to wuss out or otherwise fail to make it happen because it’s “too soon”, and “I don’t have a long range rifle”, and so on. This doesn’t preclude the possibility of attending an event sooner, with nothing but my little 10/22 or with a borrowed rifle of a more substantial caliber, of course. This is more of a “soft” deadline for attending such an event.
That’s my plan so far. It’s five months long. I’ll reassess at some point along the way, figure out whether the plan needs to be altered, and what to do next (assuming this goes roughly as planned). I’m open to life, though.
I think it was John Lennon who said that life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.