5 year planYou've heard it all before... People asking that seemingly innocent little question: "And where do you see yourself in five years?" Lifecoach Samantha McDonald helps you to stay on track

You rattle off some answer that you think sounds good at the time, but that you haven't really put much thought into. After all, five years is practically a lifetime away! Who knows what they're going to be doing so far down the track, right? Or you might be one of those people who plan their lives right down to the finest detail, and just 'know' exactly what house you'll be in, what car you'll be driving, and even what colour curtains you'll hang in your master bedroom. So, is it better to have a plan, or to fly by the seat of your pants? Is knowing your future all it's cracked up to be? Or is a little flexibility in order, especially if you're faced with a couple of unexpected hitches? After all, didn't Forrest Gump once say something about life being like a box of chocolates - you're never sure exactly which one you're going to get?

Plan: To be married by 30.
Reality: You haven't met Mr Right.

Solution: You were so certain that you'd have met your match by now, but your love river is still running dry. While it's a great ambition to be settled in a comfortable relationship by 30, often it's not a reality, and sometimes it's even more comfortable not to be part of the white-picket-fence set. Think about all the things you're able to do without having to talk them over with someone else first! The freedom of it all! You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, and not have to think twice about it. However, if you're still feeling down about the missing 'other half', spend some time on becoming the person you need to be in order to attract Mr Right. Do a life overhaul, and find the bits that could be improved. Create a plan to find your man - what qualities will he have, and where would you find someone like that? Ask your friends to introduce you to fabulous single men, join a gym or club, or put up your profile on an internet dating site. But also realize that you can get by without Mr Right for the time being. And, in fact, you're doing a really great job of it!

Plan: To have two kids by 35.
Reality: You haven't even had the first one yet.

Solution: It's easy to map out our lives when we're younger and imagine that everything will just fall into place. But there are many different reasons why women find that their dream of having kids just does not eventuate in the timeframe they'd imagined, if at all. These include huge work commitments, not finding the right partner, fertility problems, and even the realization that they don't really want children so much after all. The problem is, if you are really desperate for children, you can often make it worse for yourself by getting depressed over the fact that you don't have them yet. So, put it in perspective. If kids are just not happening for you right now, what else can you put your energy into? Work? Sponsor children? Community activities? A relationship? Your friends? You may find that people around you have their own opinions on where you're at, and you might need to start thinking about how to handle all the comments about your childless situation. Let people know that this is a choice you have made, or it's just the way things have panned out, and you never know what will happen in the future. But, for now, you hope that they will support you in your current situation, and let the topic slide.