In 10 Years

If you’d asked me 10 years ago, “Hey, Alison (no one called me Ali then), where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I could have answered you pretty matter-of-factly.

“I’ll be living in New York City, working as an editor at Dance Spirit magazine! I’ll be in a happy relationship with a guy who knows how to cook, and I’ll take dance classes in the city all the time!”

Swap out dance classes for running laps in Central Park, and I may as well have been a psychic.

You can’t beat that. Sometimes I think, “Maybe I’ll leave NYC one day.” And then…no.

At the ripe age of 17, I had it all figured out.

I had my dreams and my goals firmly solidified and I took all the necessary steps to reach them. I went to college to major in journalism and became captain of the university’s competitive dance team. I carefully crafted my academic course load and extracurricular activities to meet what I anticipated were the needs of Dance Spirit. I applied (totally blindly, actually — I emailed someone in sales because it was the only contact information I could find online) for an internship at DS, managed to get hired and spent a summer commuting from my university in Connecticut to what I hoped would be my future home: NYC.

The view from my second apartment in the city. Not terrible. I loved that place and proudly negotiated the hell out of the rent.

I loved that internship so much, and I made sure the people there loved me back. I worked my butt off and I was constantly pitching stories, crafting new ideas and trying to be innovative, even if some of my “brilliant ideas” were so far-reaching they could never work.

I dreamed big.


When my internship ended, I stayed in touch with the editors I worked with. As I wrapped up my senior year (also known as the year I spent waitressing, drinking and powering through classes hungover), I did a few freelance articles for Dance Spirit. And the day I graduated, I made sure they knew I was ready for hire.

I have a degree, now start paying me!!!

It took a “frustrating” three and a half months after I graduated for a position to open up at Dance Spirit. I remember thinking I’d never ever ever find a job. But I got a call one day from the editorial director at DanceMedia, the company that owns Dance Spirit, saying they were creating a new position for a web editor (that was a “new thing” in 2007) and wanted me to come in and interview for it.

I took the train to the city, interviewed with three different people and was offered the job. I didn’t care that the salary would mean I’d have to starve and possibly live in a gutter for a while. I was making my dreams come true.

Playing at a photo shoot at Laguardia High School — the “Fame” school!

My growth at Dance Spirit was something of a miracle. I transitioned from web editor, where I worked on seven of the company’s publications (including American Cheerleader — loved it), into a fulltime associate editor position working only on Dance Spirit.

Job description: You will meet Miley Cyrus. You will watch her “Today” show performance from her green room with all her dancers and family members. Hope that’s OK, Feller.

My titles changed — deputy editor, deputy editor in chief and now editor in chief — and my responsibilities were constantly growing.

The first time I met Nigel Lythgoe. I don’t know which is cooler: his hair or mine.
With Tabitha and Napoleon, who are still two of my favorite people in the industry.

And outside the office, life stayed exciting, too.

I started running soon after I moved to the city, and discovered the fitness industry and the racing world. I got hooked quickly, as I tend to do with things, and made lots of friends that way.

Fun with work friends! This was the first “gala” I ever attended and I didn’t own a dress even remotely appropriate. So I borrowed one. Thanks, Lauren! Also, I do not know the guy in the back. No one knew him. Probably the best photo bomb I’ve been a part of.

My little life in New York City was turning out exactly as I’d always hoped.

Monday morning in NYC. Isn’t it supposed to be light out at 7 AM now? No? I got that wrong?

Somewhere along the way, though, I think I stopped dreaming so big.

I got content. I got comfortable.

So I stopped looking so far into the future.

Now, I don’t know what I want next. I don’t even know which race to register for, let alone where I want to raise children in the I-don’t-know-when future.

Things aren’t perfect. They’ll never be perfect. I guess I’m part content, part “I have no idea what to do next.” A little lost, but a little OK with it?

Ten years ago, not having a plan would have driven me crazy. I needed big goals, big dreams and high hopes.

But now?

I don’t have a plan at all. And that’s fine.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS? Do you have it all figured out, or are you as lost and clueless as I am?



52 Responses

  1. 10 years ago today… I dropped my twin girls off at preschool and when I went back to ask their teacher a question… the doors had locked shut… something that had never occurred before… unlocked doors would never occur again. I was early for work on what was my 31st birthday… and knowing the girls in the office would “surprise” me with cake I opted not to grab a sausage and biscuit and instead wait for someone to bring the chocolate… what better way to celebrate a birthday than a day where every meal has chocolate in it? So instead I fell asleep for a quick nap in the parking lot before the store opened… and was awakened by one of the mechanics knocking on my window talking about “plane crash…fires…whole world going crazy”. We found an old tv in a back storage area and plugged it in and watched coverage all day… no one actually worked… we knew our world had just changed. On Sept. 11th 2001… I was turning 31… married for 9 years and had twin girls who would be turning 4 in just a couple of months. On Sept. 11th 2002… I had been married for 10 years…had twin girls who would be turning 5 in just a couple of months… and a one week old son. I made my doctor swear to me that he would not be born on Sept. 11th… I wanted his birthday to be a day of celebration… of happiness and joy… and I realized I would never again celebrate my birthday as that sort of day. Sept. 11th 2011… I’m turning 41 today… have been married for 19 years…have twin girls who will be turning 14 in just a couple of months… a 9 year old son… and a 5 year old son… and will spend my day celebrating quietly with my husband and children… they made me waffles for breakfast… and love-of-my-life will later grill some ribeye’s… because they’re my favorite… and I will get hugs and kisses and birthday wishes from the ones who matter most to me in this world… the reason I breathe.

  2. I completely know what you’re going through. I’m experiencing the exact same thing. Now that I’m in my 30s and accomplished all my post-college goals, I feel like I’m totally on cruise control. People at work talk about their five-year goals. I don’t even know what my professional goals for THIS year are! Sometimes I freak out about this, as I’m a textbook type-A person. But then I remind myself that sometimes the best epiphanies and personal growth happen during downtime. You could very well be on the brink of something huge!

  3. I always wished I could be one of those people who knew exactly what they wanted to do in 5 or 10 years, then I would take all the necessary steps to get there. I can work with short term goals, but long term scare the crap out of me. When I was younger I was going to the Olympics as an equestrian, that was my goal and I was working towards it. Unfortunately I took a few too many beatings and lost my nerve… then I decided to move to New Zealand right after I graduated HS. See, I can do big things in short time spans, but not big things that take a long time. Once the whole leaving my horse back riding career thing happened I began to question why people create long term goals anyways. They’ll probably change, so why do it? I don’t think that thought process is right, I think I’m just scared. And now I’ve written way too much, but your post resonated with me and I want you to know I wish I was like you when I was 18. 🙂

  4. I’m a little confused about my future. I’ve gotta say, I’m a little jealous of your past ten years — it’s always been my dream to write or edit for a magazine, but it’s hard to find journalism jobs in Indiana! Right now I’m working in an elementary school to help pay the bills (and it’s very rewarding), but I’d love to use my degree someday again, and work for a publication.

  5. I, too, had it all figured out 12 years ago, and am exactly where I thought I’d be: married homeowner with a killer marketing career. I used to do marketing for an astrology company and got my chart read a couple of years ago. The astrologer’s advice to me was just to “ride the wave.” I’ve already put a lot of work in achieving my goals; now is the time to enjoy life. So as bogus as astrology is, I’ve taken his advice. Re: complacency, the only addendum I have to that is to always stay challenged – career wise, intellectually, physically. As long as I do that I know I’m on the right track.

  6. Wonderful post. I, too, knew from a young age exactly what I wanted to do (be a classical singer) and made it happen. It’s amazing but it definitely looks different than how I envisioned it, in a good way!

    10 years from now, I hope to be an Ironman. There. I said it.

  7. You should be proud of how your hard work and planning helped you achieve your dream.

    Here’s an idea for a new goal in 20-13-2014. You’re clearly a role model for students and recent grads in the media industry. And it continues to be an incredibly challenging environment to find work in 2013. Why not network with some of your peers (young, successful editors etc in NYC) to come up with a platform / program / advice to help promising students develop and execute their own plans for career success? You’ll help them and you can also help yourself by broadening your network and demonstrating your leadership potential.

  8. I am completely lost in limbo. What I wanted 10 years ago is sooooo different than what I want now. I am waiting to here from schools to go back for what I actually want to do for the rest of my life. But for now, I’m at a job I hate. It has been great motivation to find things that make me happy but I can’t wait until I can go to work every day and enjoy what I do.

  9. You have what you were dreaming to have, I still can’t figure out what it is (at the ripe age of 33) …I think you are rightfully content!!!

  10. Lost! And it’s scary. But sometimes, I sit back and think of what my mom told me: live in the moment; living in the future = fear. Sure, I’ve some goals but these are pretty short term.

  11. Ew. I was 17 TEN YEARS AGO. Thanks for the reminder, Ali.

    Anyway, I didn’t realize until I read this that I, too knew exactly where I’d be (well, not exactly, but I knew I wanted to be an English teacher, and I hoped that I’d be in a happy, healthy relationship. Done and done).

    Ten years from now, I want to be a mom, and I’d like to move ahead with my career. I love being in the classroom, but I know I’ll need a change eventually (either taking a leadership position, or teaching a different grade level, etc.)

    It’s funny that you mention that you got content and comfortable—I did too, and to be honest, I’m happy with that (is that bad?!) I love my job, I love where I live, I love my relationship. I feel really content, and very, very lucky.

  12. Ali, I love how passionate and determined you are about everything in life. But it’s FINE not to have a plan! Really! I feel like I have the opposite story – I had no clue about what I wanted personally or professionally until just a year or so ago. Now I have a “plan” of sorts but am trying to be comfortable with the fact that life is crazy, my plan may change, we really can’t plan long-term all the time. Keep being goal-oriented and hard working, and things will fall into place. I think. What the hell do I know, I’m 26! I’d just like to believe that this same idea that I try to preach to my adolescents isn’t total BS 😉

    1. Haha. I’ll post those another time 😉 I’ve met her a few times and she’s way fun. Tall, gorgeous, exactly the same as she is on TV. And with a bit of a potty mouth.

  13. That’s amazing that you knew what you wanted to do at that age… and that you actually made it happen. I think I’m in the opposute boat as you, and I had no idea what I wanted to do at 17, and now at almost-24… I think the only thing I want to do is run and blog, and so I do. I did create a roadmap for this year, though (not quite a ten-year plan), and I’m hoping to make those dreams come true.

  14. I didn’t know what I wanted to be at 17, or really at 27. I’m not even sure now. I did figure out what job i wanted at the company I worked for, and got it, then left for a whole new career change. Now, I don’t really know where I’m going again, but right now I’m happy, I’m challenged, I have good friends, a good job, and enough money for happy hour and shoes, so I’ll take it. Plans be damned!

  15. Exactly 10 years ago, I pictured my self joining the Peace Corps. I’m currently nominated and awaiting an invitation. Waiting is the hardest part. The path that I took to get to where I am couldn’t have been more difficult (okay, it probably could have, but trust me when I say it was plenty difficult, and I made sure of it) but I also don’t think I would have been able to relate the same way, have the same great experiences that I’ve had. I love my life. I love everything about it.

    I too, am always in need of a plan. Even if it doesn’t work out the way I think it should, I need one. I even need a back up plan, just in case. Its just smart. But sometimes part of that plan is WAITING. Which sucks.

  16. Love this post. Your are incredible and should be so proud of what you have accomplished.

    I am feeling the same way and wonder how in the heck am I supposed to come up with new plan. What is it that I am supposed to do next besides having babies (according to everyone who finds out I was just recently married). Currently I am making a lot of lists, trying to tackle more short term goals, like the one my husband Brian assigned to me which was cook a meal every now and then! – btw I tried on Sunday and it sucked.. until I ate it and tasted good. I feel your pain..

    So anyway, if you have any insight on how you discover the next plan, share it!

    Thank you for the time you take to post! I love your blog – it is the only blog I have found written by a Crohnie that isn’t all about the disease. LOVE. IT.

  17. I completely understand what you’re talking about in this post. In college, I took a while to figure out what I wanted to do, but by junior year I was set on law school and I did everything to make that happen. Then in my first year of law school (the year you interview with firms), I did everything to make sure I got a firm job with one of the places I wanted to work. But now, looking at the next few years, I have no idea what my path is. Most people don’t stay at a firm more than 5 years, and I’m not sure what I want to do after that. It’s both scary and somewhat liberating for me since I’m a total type A planner.

  18. the 10 year plan i made when i was 17 totally flew out the window about 5 years later…..not that things were bad, they were just completely different than what i expected or thought i wanted….so now I’m over the 10 year plan thing…instead, I try to stick to the 1 year plan, or even the 1 month plan and find it works much better!

  19. Sometimes you just have to ride the wave 🙂 The computer industry has changed things so much! 10 years ago if you had told me that I would sell a software company and start another one right after, I would have laughed. Always look for opportunities to grow and change!

    1. Yes! I remember it feeling like such an IMPOSSIBLE time in my life. And now it’s like…wow, I was so lucky. I got a job fast. Many people do not. What a brat I was.

  20. BIG questions! I was just talking to a coworker about my future at my company. I’m not sure it actually went great. I came off sounding like someone who only cares about making more money. And I’m afraid now, that might be what I’ve become! What about my dreams? What about what I WANT to be doing? 9 years into my job, sometimes I still feel like an idiot…Hmmm 10 years from now I know what I want personally, but not professionally. I admire that you have truly lived your dreams to now, and I’m confident that you will figure out the future from this point on, when the time is right. And so will I.

  21. This is a beautiful story of how you built your dreams and now get to live them! If I may be so bold, I wouldn’t force anything right now, just live it. A plateau (especially one with such a grand view) is lovely. If a new passion strikes you, certainly create that new dream and pursue it. But everyone’s life has a rhythm about it, and you’re not in a breakneck phase right now.

    Where will I be in 10 years? Still gainfully employed as an editor (about to start accruing the next level of annual leave, LOL!), wife, mom to (God willing) a college graduate, a college sophomore, and a high school freshman. Not lost and clueless, but definitely in a holding pattern with more working years before retirement!

  22. 1) You rule.
    2) As sad as this is, I’ve been having the same feelings recently and I blame it ALL on Joey Potter and my recent obsession with rewatching The Crick.. Her little “I’m so smart and have to get all As” reminded me of how driven I USED to be. Like you, I knew I’d be in the big city of my choice (what up, Chitooooown) and kicking ass. But like once I graduated HS at the top of my class, went to my #1 college choice and kicked ass in Chicago for a years, I just stopped caring. When did this happen? Perhaps it happened when I adopted that idiot cat (aka my best friend)? Wahhhh

  23. If you asked me 10 years ago where I’d be today, I would have still said NYC (I’m right about something! yay!) but I would have told you that I was going to replace Katie Couric on the today show…

    1. Every time you comment, I see your little picture and I’m like, “Hot damn, she is SO pretty.” Just thought I’d creep you out a little today… Sorry. But you are. And thanks for commenting and bringing some beauty to Ali On The Run 😉

  24. I have no idea where I want to be in 10 years. For me, I think part of the problem is that I’m not at all where I thought I would be 10 years ago. In a lot of ways, my 10 year plan revolved around what I thought I should do, like going to law school and passing the bar exam. Looking back, I know I made the right choice to not go to law school, but making that decision was tough and I guess I’m still a little hesitant to go through that again. So, for now, I’ll be winging it a little while longer.

  25. I think so many people can relate to this post. I’m 10 years out of college and I can say with conviction that if someone told me that I’d be where I am now in life (especially career-wise) I’d think they we’re nuts – so jeal
    of your awesome big-dream achievements! Sometimes it frustrates me thinking about where I came from and what my goals used to be and wondering “how did I get here?” But at the same time, I love where I am. It wasnt a straight line but I’m here now and loving it! Sometimes things go according to plan… and maybe not having a plan is also a “plan” unto itself.

    I say good for you with be okay with “free-falling” for a little bit! Just doing some living for a little while and before you know it, everything will come into focus. You’ll be clear about what you want next and your feet will be on the ground once again 🙂

  26. love this. way to go after it girl.

    lately i’ve been having an internal debate about content versus complacency. i heard a quote once that said the destruction of almost any relationship is complacency.

    so my current mission is to be content without becoming complacent 🙂

    1. YES, great point! I kept questioning myself, thinking, “Isn’t it bad to be content?” But no, it’s not. I’m not COMPLACENT, and it’s funny how the two similar ideas are actually SO different. Good call. You’re wise. I like you. Good mission.

  27. I think I could have written this post. I was very career and goal oriented with big plans and dreams, and now that I’ve reached what I wanted, I’m kind of just here going about my daily business. I think that’s why I’ve found so much joy in running; it keeps giving me goals to shoot for, and I have to work hard along the way. This is a fantastic post. I’m glad you’re content with feeling happy right now in your career, and I hope that when you decide you’re not that you’re able to continue working so successfully towards your goals. I wish the same for myself too.

  28. Congrats on reaching your dream!! Ten years ago I had no idea what I wanted to do and I still trying to figure it out!!’ I’m always jealous of people who knew what they wanted at such a young age!

  29. It’s really amazing how you knew exactly what you wanted to do and made it happen. I was so lost when I graduated college that I just went right to grad school because I had no clue what to do. I never had a plan, I just hoped to fall into something great. For 10 years from now, I do hope to be out of the NYC area…

  30. I’ve always dreamed big and thought I knew exactly what I wanted. But I also realized that people, opportunities, and desires come and go for certain reasons. My 10 year plan changed when I decided moving from America to England was my top priority. I don’t even know what country I’m going to be living in 10 years from now, but I think I’m okay with that!

  31. It’s funny, I didn’t know what I wanted when I was 17. I changed my college major bi-weekly. I dabbled in completely unrelated internships. I dated guys who were WAY wrong for me. Now, at 25, I finally feel like I know where my life is going in the next 10 years! It’s fun knowing where I’m going now, but I’ll never trade the years of indecision that opened me up to all the random stuff that somehow shaped my life for the better. 🙂

    1. Haha so we’re opposites. I like your theory and you’re so right — the indecision stuff is exciting!

  32. Such a great post. This was me a few years ago, but dreaming to work in the Fashion industry. I did everything and anything I could to make it happen and have been very successful since. However, sometimes I feel at a loss. What’s the next big thing that I am supposed to have such a passion for and will do anything to get? I guess time will tell…

  33. This is a great post! Ten years ago I wanted to be a teacher! Then somewhere around my Junior year I decided I wanted to major in Business and here I am working in finance and loving my life; who knew?

  34. Ali, my love… wow I so relate to this post. Like everything. Except swap out editor at dance magazine for video editor at an ad agency. But at 17, I too, knew exactly what I wanted to do and worked my butt off in college to land a job exactly like I have now. And now, well, I’m content too. And I don’t exactly have a ten year plan because I like where I’m at as well. It’s a good place to be. Content but still striving. Always realizing that you have more to learn and more room to grow. And that you can learn and grow from anyone! Happy you’re happy as always! xo

    1. I loved YOUR post today. It’s funny how we can have all our shit in order when we’re young and stupid, but then we get where we planned to be and…then what? Frankly, it’s not a bad problem to have. And you have the cutest little man ever, so enjoy this time with him!! (And post more photos.)

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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