Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
A friend of mine, who worked as manager in a consulting firm, asked me that when I was few years younger. Like most of fresh graduates who were still in the midst of finding where they truly belong, I dreaded that question.
When I gave him half-hearted answer with some kind of no direction, he didn’t seem too pleased.
“I guess you’re still too young,” he replied.
People said there’s a similarity between looking for a job and looking for a partner.
The company that you really hope can get into may reject your application, suddenly you get many offers when you’re not expecting, or what you thought of dream job-comes-true turns out to be something that can’t help you unleash your true potential.
I always thought that 8 dreadful words determine how ambitious a person is, how good they are with their jobs, and how successful they could be in the future. They have clear vision of who they want to be and how to achieve them. If they give a perfect, satisfying answer during a job interview, the chance they get hired is higher.
But what if I tell you that by being true to yourself, you might found a place where you belong?
This is based on my real experience being brutally honest in a pre-interview test. They asked me to take Anthony Robbins’ personality test and answer that question. Their reaction to my non-filtered answer turned out to be very surprising. Here’s what I wrote:
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years and how do you plan to achieve them?
A: I see myself finally found and doing well in a job that I truly interested and good at, living a work-life balance, travel to more countries, have bigger digits in my bank account and maybe, got married and have kids (I love children).
Right now I’m still in the midst of discovering myself, my true passion and talent where I can excel. I know I need to see more and learn to be persistent in something to excel. I plan to travel the world, perhaps solo travelling to discover my true identity. After that I will reflect and think of the next step, what I really want to do or become in the future and go for it.
I will work hard for that and motivate myself more, learn better, do better, and try to stick on my goal until I can excel. This can be done by keep reminding myself that I’m getting older every day and I have bills to pay, also by excelling in the job that I love will enrich and add purpose to my life.
As for the marriage part, I don’t bother much. Love comes when it’s ready, at the perfect time.
At that time, I didn’t view the question as something dreadful anymore. Or tried to write it in such way in order to land the job.
To me it meant being honest to myself, allowing me to have my own, clear vision of the kind of life that I want in 5 years.
Not more than 3 days later, the company called me for interview.
“We’ve been looking for someone like you,” said one of the interviewers.
I was surprised.
“We don’t allow people to stay back more than 6pm. Most of us always go back on time. It shows that you’re efficient and you maximize the given working hours,” she continued.
I never thought that my transparency could bring me further. It turned out not only my skills and experiences matched well with their criteria of candidate, but also my principle living a work-life balance life was actually applied in their company.
But in the end, I never join the company. Like a love drama, they ghosted me after I submitted the second assignment. I called and sent them email to follow up with my status, but no reply.
I prefer to have a ‘no’ – a simple rejection email will do than nothing, moreover after the lengthy business development essay that I did for them. I feel ‘robbed’ – time and creativity. I took it as a lesson not to put high hope on something that’s too good to be true, and moved on.
Few months later, an unknown number called my phone. It’s from the long-lost company. If it’s a love relationship, it would be like this:
Ex: “Hi babe, how are you?”
Me: “Hi, who are you?”
Ex: “This is me, do you still remember?”
Me: “Ah… yes, I remember!”
Ex: “Are you in a relationship now? Can we try again?”
Me: “I called and emailed but you didn’t reply, so yeah… I’m in a relationship now. What happened actually?”
Ex: “Yes, there’s a problem (half giggling)… but now it’s ok. So thought if you are still single…
Me: “Oh, sorry no… but thank you for remembering me.”
Morale of the article:
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have an ambitious, super awesome vision of your future right away when people ask you where you see yourself in 5 years. The truth is, the question applied to everyone at any age, gender, job; and the time to figure it out depends on each individual.
As a CEO of successful company, where do you see your company in 5 years? Is there any area that you can still improve?
As a grandmother, where do you see yourself in 5 years? Are you gonna spend the rest of your life with sleep – eat – relax – repeat? Would you give a try to join Zumba Gold class?
Be true to yourself and do your best, as time goes by you will find it. If it meant to be but slipped away it will come back to you, else you’ll find something better along the way.