“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” A dreaded question for those of us can’t confidently answer it and potentially a well-perceived question for the few who can. I have found that I was first asked this particular question at around age 15 and have been asked the question countless times since then. I’m actually not sure people will ever stop asking questions about the future and what we have planned for ourselves.
This also happens to be a popular question among recruiters, since they like to see that a job candidate is seriously thinking about and planning his or her own career path. Actually, I’m not positive why they ask this question, since it seems like every article you read regarding job-search/interview preparation advice, has different suggestions on how to best answer a question like this.
I remember at 15 being asked this question and thinking to myself… In 5 years I will be 20, so I will probably be in college. Easy enough! Then if the follow-up questions were “What are you going to study in college? What do you want to be when you grow up?” a simple “I’m still thinking, I’m not quite sure yet” would suffice since few people know exactly what they want to do in their life at age 15.
As the four years of high school quickly passed and it came time for college, I started wondering when I would 100% definitively be able to answer the question. Throughout college and during job interviews when I was asked this question, I found ways to answer it but as someone who loves to plan everything, it was a bit unsettling that I didn’t exactly know where I would be in 5 years.
It has been about a year and 1 month since I graduated from college and I feel like that time has flown by! Even though I was excited to graduate as the date of commencement got closer, I was also nervous about the future. Of course I would miss seeing my friends every day post-college but I also felt unsettled about the next season of life. What would adulthood and the post-grad life be like? Where do I see myself in five years? Suddenly, I started asking myself that question and wondering now that I don’t have a summer break and a school year that is marked by a clear start and end date, will months and years blend together?
Throughout school and college, it seemed like the passing of time was always clearly marked by quarters or semesters (which unfortunately involved taking exams). For better or for worse though, there was a way to benchmark our performance. In the “real world”, as some like to call it, there are far fewer clear benchmarks. How do you make sure the days and weeks and months don’t all blend together and you don’t become complacent?
I don’t have the right answer to the question I just asked but I can share some things that I have done and am continuing to do to help create benchmarks for myself. In this season of life as a young working professional I am doing my best to set measurable short term goals. Short terms goals can be about learning new skills, doing more of a certain hobby that you wish you had more time for, or anything you want them to be! You should have some fun goals! If I feel like I am stuck in a rut, then I try to set small, relatively simple goals for myself so that once I accomplish them, I bring my spirits up a bit.
In terms of long term goals, I can’t say exactly where I see myself in 5 years. What I do know, is that it is okay to not know what the future holds. It is so easy to look at social media and be fooled into thinking that everyone except for us has their life together and has the next 5 or 10 years planned out, so it is so important to go through life being mindful of what you do, setting small goals and milestones for yourself, and knowing that it is absolutely okay to not know what will happen in 5 years. Maybe today you are thinking: In 5 years I will finally have things figured out. If you do, that’s awesome, but if you don’t end up having everything figured out by then, that’s okay too.
Do you love to plan and wish you knew exactly how the next 5 or 10 years of your life will pan out? I have similar qualms but I’m slowly learning to be more comfortable with taking life one step at a time and not feeling the need to plan everything and worry about what is unknown. Feel free to leave a comment below with your thoughts! 🙂
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