Is ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ an outdated way of thinking?

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side hustles and startups panel

Source: Blissful Love Photography/Young Business Edge

Speaking on a panel of young entrepreneurs and start-up owners recently, one of the questions posed to us was, “Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?”

I’m sure many of us were asked this question by teachers, family, career counsellors, and even in job interviews. It’s a question designed to get you thinking about your future and help you set some concrete goals to provide direction and a clear path forward.

My response to this question wasn’t what, I think, many in the crowd expected. Instead, my answer was something like, “I think that’s an outdated way of thinking.” We’ve all spent just over two years now making plans, ripping them up, and starting again as the world around us rapidly shifted with each new COVID-19 development. Isn’t it better to be flexible enough to adapt as things beyond our control change?

If you asked me where I saw myself today five years ago, I suspect the answer would be very different. Too often, this question is designed to draw out a linear response of “I want to progress from an entry-level marketing position to mid, then senior level.” Potential employers can also use it to gauge how long you’ll likely want to stay with their company. It may have been helpful when people stayed with the same company or in the same role for most of their careers, but research shows that we’re changing jobs more frequently than ever before.

Job security vs what makes you happy

When I think about where I want to be in five years, five years ago, my answer would have been attached to a particular position or job title – ‘Head of Content Marketing’ or ‘Senior Content Marketing Lead’ – something along those lines. Five years ago, the idea of working part-time while building my own business would have made me laugh, “But the job security!” I would have silently screamed at myself. 

We can draw some positives from COVID-19. Before the pandemic, I felt my identity was tied to my title at work and my annual salary. If nothing else, the pandemic has provided us with the chance to reset and reassess what’s important to us. My friends and family don’t care if I’m the head of a department or have a team of people working for me. I’ve realised what I want out of my working life: flexibility, fun, respect from the people I choose to work with, and helping others find success opportunities. As long as my mortgage is paid, we have food on the table, and I can enjoy a night out with friends or travel a bit when I want, I’m happy. 

For now, rhixseven and Albury Business Connect give me all of that plus so much more. Five years from now, it could still be rhixseven and Albury Business Connect, or it could be something else. 

While I don’t see what I want changing, how I make it happen is constantly up for review.

So my question to you is, where do YOU see yourself in five or 10 years? Has your perspective changed at all? Connect with me on LinkedIn or get in touch on my website if you’d like to chat, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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