“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
I typically hate this question.
First off, it’s a classic interview question designed to test your commitment or loyalty to the organization that is thinking about hiring you. (And this often breeds dishonesty.)
Second, it tends to elicit a list of future milestones and hopeful accomplishments.
Neither of those are a sustaining force that will make you feel energized and intrinsically satisfied. They won’t help you feel like the best version of yourself either.
That said, it’s actually a damn good question if thought about in the right way.
Think about it… WHERE do you want to be in five years? Meaning, what environment do you imagine yourself living in? Who will you be surrounded by? What’s the first thing you’ll do when you wake up in the morning? The last? Why will you do what you do? What will you be working on? What problem will you be solving?
Maybe you hope to be on a mountain writing a novel. You’re with your best friends and the love of your life.
Maybe you hope to be on stage facing an applauding crowd. You’re on the road as part of a multi-city tour.
Maybe you want to be playing with your kids on the beach. You kiss your wife when you wake up and tuck your kids in every night.
Maybe you’re traveling the world with your business partner. You’re bringing your product or service to market internationally.
Think about the moments when you feel the most alive. Is it when you take your hands off the keyboard after writing a piece? Is it when you ship a new version of your product? Is it when a crowd applauds? Is it when you hear “I love you” from your significant other? Is it when you help someone else solve a problem or achieve a breakthrough?
What is it that’s keeping you from feeling this alive every day?
Start taking steps toward the environment you imagine yourself living in. Now.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” The next time someone asks you that question, be prepared with a damn good response. The kind of response that lights you up with passion and excitement, that speaks to where you really want to be.