Choosing Figs | Neurotic as Hell | A Travel, Lifestyle, and Life List Blog

My (actual?) five-year plan.

Yeahyeah, it’s time for “Val frets about her future” and try to come up with an actual five-year plan post.

This time, though I have made a decision. And that decision is that there is no way I will ever decide, so I just have to pursue everything I’m interested in. I have to just stop putting off taking steps towards whatever I want to do and just start taking steps towards everything. 🙂 🙁

I have decided that I am going to be a writer/web designer/photographer. I am also going to be a food stylist, but that is only in conjunction with the photography and web design. And maybe an editor, just ’cause.

Thing is that I like my job. And I think it is just going to get better and better over the years. But at the same time I want more freedom to travel and to be able to set my own hours and not to put on pants if I don’t want to…because I never want to put pants on.

So, here are the steps I plan to take over the next five years my “five-year plan” if you will…


My five-year plan:


In a few months I will have my Masters Degree in writing. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing. Except that I have a massive amount of grad school debt to pay off. I don’t plan on taking any more formal classes in writing. I will continue to keep my eye out on things though and hopefully take a seminar or two in young adult fiction and memoirs (maybe even in another country…) I also plan to actually try to get some things published.

– Work on essays and short stories.
– Work on them some more.
– Research markets.
– Send them out to magazines and journals.
– Get rejected.
– Hopefully some day get published.
– Continue to work on the memoir/novel.
– Research agents.
– After gaining some publishing experience and having a finished, polished draft, send out to agents.
– Pray that all my hard work pays off.



Every other day someone tells me that I should be a photographer. That I should hone my skills, try to show at galleries, or be a wedding/pet/anything else photographer. Truthfully (as if you couldn’t tell already) photography is one of those things that I love to do and have consistently loved and never gotten tired of for a long long time now. So yeah, it probably is time that I started to take it more seriously and see where it takes me. Even if I don’t make a career out of it, I can probably make a nice side job or at least just really nice prints 🙂 I looked around and think I might check out this place: The Chicago Photography Center”. They have a free 1.5 hour introduction and then a few classes that sound interesting. Ideally I’d like to really study it, like at the program at Columbia College…but I will most likely never have the time or money or patience to get another Bachelors Degree.

– Take the free intro session at the Chicago Photography Center.
– Take beginning/intermediate/advanced classes in photography.
– ??? I don’t know exactly where I’ll go from there. But I will definitely go somewhere.


Web Design

Web Design is another passion. But really, I don’t know what I’m doing. I need to hone up on my HTML/CSS/Dreamweaver skills. I need to learn some languages that will make my sites more functional (java, php, mysql…). I need to really learn all Photoshop, etc. have to offer so I can create better images. I love the web editing I do now, but I’d like to do more…

– The first step is to brush up and really master the basics: HTML and CSS. I know the basics but really need to learn them. The good news is that I think I will be able to swing taking some of these classes on my company’s bill and even during a work day for professional development.
– The next step is learning things that will build off of that, like php, mysql, java, photoshop, flash. All of those I know the basics of, but again, I’d like to be more advanced in them.
– Hopefully at this point, between honing my skills and gaining experience at Lyric, I’ll be able to really start looking into working on freelance projects.
– From there I want to start learning even more advanced applications to create really amazingly awesome and functional websites.


Culinary Arts

So I have always loved to cook. I don’t want to be a chef or a baker or anything though. But I would like to incorporate my love of food into my career. If you haven’t already noticed, I love to take photos of my food. This got me to thinking that I could have a specialty of creating websites for restaurants, and could be a one stop shop of creating the website and also styling and photographing the food. I also would like to tone my basic culinary skills.

– Go through a certificate program in the basics of culinary arts
– Attend the 2-day session on food styling at the New School
– Attend the 7-day food styling course offered in Chicago.
(this may be more of a longer-term thing, and not right away)



I don’t really have a plan for editing, except as it being a supplement to my other work…and something that can be done freelance. I am going to start apllying for editing tests for computer manuals. We’ll see how that goes 🙂


So, this is my massive 5-year plan. If you read this far I’d be shocked. I guess it’s not really a 5-year plan since I don’t have any timelines or anything like that…It’s more like a bunch of random goals I have that will hopefully make me get off my butt and do stuff so I eventually won’t have to do stuff anymore. But I say this is official.

We’ll see how this goes.

Wish me luck…

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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