Your next 5 years could get better in next 5 minutes or you can keep blaming your luck.
This article will help you answer a very basic yet difficult question of where do you see yourself in next few years. My promise to you is that in next 5 minutes you will have a better idea and a sense of clarity of what you really want to achieve in your life.
Let me first admit, I am not a trainer or motivational speaker so I am sharing based on my personal experience of what worked for me and not as an expert. It all started when I attended a conference ‘Jee Lo Zindagi’ (Live the life) and got inspired by some of the heart warming thoughts and emotions shared by multiple speakers one after another. When Syed Qasim Ali Shah, who is a great video sensation in counseling and motivation domain, asked to write your vision of where do you see yourself in next 5 years, with all honesty, I found myself clueless.
Although I have faced this question a few times during interviews and had memorized a few lines as a best possible answer but again, I knew I am not being honest and just have prepared all of the answers to this question and similar questions to “handle” the interviewer with a safe answer which does not truly reflect of where I really see myself in next 5 years. And I am sure, I am not alone in this. Most probably, most of us would be having same mundane routine we are having from last couple of years. Thinking of that, I tried to take help from my wife, and she smiled and said in her native language in a very funny tone, “teri herkata’n deikh key lagda aye key edher hi takkey khaa ryein hovan gey.” (Keeping your last few years routine in mind, it seems we would still be stuck at the same place.). Part of the reason, we belong to a small city ‘Sheikhupura” in Punjab province of Pakistan but had to move to a mega city, Karachi in Sindh province. And she really misses not being there any more. For her, she really wants to get back to the life we once had so at least she was bit clear on what she wants from the life ahead but my inability to not been able to have a clear vision of where we are going to be in next few years made her say that.
Next speaker “Samad Abbas” asked random people to read about the vision they had written in last lecture. All of the people he asked had visions about how they are going to get better in their profession which seemed like a safe vision to have. Then Mr. Abbas, went on to shock the entire hall by sharing his perspective about having a vision. He made us think that how we tend to confine our thoughts around career and career alone where as, that is not the only role we perform in the daily life. He shared two general types of these roles, one which we can not change, i.e, blood relations and the other which we can change, that includes marital relationship, friends, profession, etc… He urged everyone to have a vision about each role to spend a happy life. Suddenly I realized that he has taken us to a whole new level of complexity. How possibly can you write your vision about every role when you can not write it for career alone. Although remaining speakers were awesome but for me, that was enough of inspiration for the day.
On my way back, I kept quite most of the time but my mind was still trying to figure out how one can write our vision for all possible roles. Next day, I had to see one particular higher-up of my organization. I tried to get appointment but his PA was on leave and he was not picking up the phone. I decided to go anyways. The guy was there but he kept me waiting in front of his room for like 15 minutes because he was busy. I felt very “employee” like at that time, a kind of a feeling I had not had for a long time although I am an ’employee’ of the organization but my work does not require me to feel like one all the time. Anyways, back to that moment of desperation and frustration, a thought struck to my mind. Do I want to be like this person in next 5 years. And the answer was a straight ‘No’. I gazed around, all the higher-ups in their fancy cabins in a row from shiny bald heads to over stuffed bellies and from nicely done suites to casual attires. I asked myself, if I want to be anyone from these cabins in next 5 years but the answer stayed same. Then I thought of my boss, well, for a moment, I thought I probably have got a yes but then suddenly, that higher-up called me in and the last thought I had while entering his room was ’employee’ and I removed my boss from the list.
When I came back to my office, I felt a sense of clarity, a bit of relief as if I have finally discovered on how I can answer the question of where do I see myself in next five years against all the roles. At least now I exactly knew what I need to do and I got busy, busy finding the role models in the people I know and worked with. I realized it is a much easier approach to answer this question right with all honesty and clarity. So next thing I wanted to do was a bit of exercise. No no, not the physical one, although that is on the list, but I was about to make a cheat sheet to help lazy people like myself to have a dive in the self discovery realm where they could have their roles & role models pinned in front of them, continually reminding them of where they want to be in life ahead and keep them focused on the means to achieve their new found destiny.
I started with a simple sheet, but since I am cursed with a product mentality and being a gamification advocate and a data first person, I tend to have numbers communicate feelings and meaningful messages beside just numbers. So it got a bit of twist by inclusion of some formulas along with some fancy terms like GPLLG or Grand Probability of Life Looks Good. Once you filled the sheet, I suggest taking a print out of this and hang it in-front of you. Keep updating the sheet with any changes you have in the roles, role models or the realization time. Also always have a fresh printout every week. That will help you keep focused. I say this because, numbers and points on the wall/board lose their importance and ability to remind in a few days unless you write them again even if it is the same thing. I hope my exercise will help some.
So without wasting any more time, here it is.
So you have the sheet. You can copy it, modify it, re-distribute it with your own name, I don’t care. Do whatever you want with it but before filling it with your choices, please take a pause. Know it is not an exam and there are no right or wrong answers, only honest answers will work. Now take a deep breath, try to relax and start thinking about your life as whole. Realize, that it does not consist of your job alone and offers you multiple roles to manage and your ability to manage them better is the key thing to succeed here. But for that you need to know who is managing these roles better than you and that is your role model. So look around and try to find you some role models. This sheet will try to help you do that and more. It will help you see the kind of roles you will be managing, identifying role models for each identified role, set your targets or realization time required for these roles and finally have a purposeful life. It will also try to gauge your overall success probability in the years ahead and keeps you going with a more focused and clear approach.