Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?
It Can Be Difficult In Today’s Economy to Know Where You’re Going to Be In the Next Five Months, Let Alone the Next Five Years!
What do you say when you’re asked that ever-recurring and somewhat annoying question: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” We’ve come to expect it at interviews, but what if it comes up in conversation at a networking event or a cocktail party?
It can be difficult in today’s economy to know where you’re going to be in the next five months, let alone the next five years and even if you do know, it’s a challenge to communicate your worklife goal, and if it comes up in a social setting, it’s up there in the annoying category of questions along with ‘What do you do?’
Is our worklife really defining us? And is that such a bad thing anyway? I suppose not if it’s deemed to be interesting, but what if you find your work uninspiring and you’re not motivated to talk about it.
And just how honest can you be? What if your five-year plan is to be semi-retired and living in the south of France with a little consultancy work to keep your hand in, and your real goal is to spend the next five years building a good network of contacts to facilitate this. Hmmm, perhaps it might not be such a good idea being completely honest in this instance, or you might be suspected of intending to run off with the company clients!
However, all that said, sometimes it does pay to be honest. For example, take a person working in the operations department of an Investment Bank. She’s finding the work completely mundane and goes nowhere to fulfil her creative spirit. Does she share this at appraisal time?
This did actually happen to Moira, and she choose to share in the knowledge that it could be the beginning of the end in terms of her career– but no, her faith in humankind was completely redeemed, if not blown out of the water when her manager suggested setting up a meeting with the head of Marketing and long story short she’s now planning a side step within her organisation. They’re even funding some of her training.
I expect now more than ever; organisations want to keep their good people, and giving them what they want will instil loyalty — the old adage of by giving you’ll receive eh!
It’s also worth noting if you are considering a change into something new and you can effect that change within an organisation where you’re known and respected, it’s a lot easier than getting your foot in another door.
And the moral of the story, well, I guess honesty can be rewarded, and it may even be the best policy!
I first shared this story some years ago on my original, now-defunct blog: Evolving Careers. I’m sharing it again because I believe it’s as relevant today, and it was all those years ago.