Seriously, stop asking.
Whether in an interview, at a networking event, or in the center of a life chat there is a 50/50 chance you will be asked the nails on a chalk board question: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
Thoughts that immediately go through my head when asked that question:
- Oh, here we go.
- Are you f%cking kidding me?
- I hope you stub your toe.
- On a scale of 1 to extremely rude where would I fall if I were to just turn around and walk away.
This is an open letter to those who have ever asked a twenty-something that question.
Dear you know who you are,
Look, I get it. Your intentions behind asking the question is to get an exclusive inside glimpse into our long term goals and interest. You are programmed to ask those 8 words to see if any waving red flags are raised when we regurgitate an answer. The twenty something community is well aware that the way we handle this question could make or break us landing the job. #NoPressure.
Pause. Before we go any further let me ask you this Mr. Interviewer; prior to having a big ole fancy office did you know how to confidently answer that same question? At the age of 23, did you know specifically what you wanted to do and the path you were going to take? If you answered yes, to either of those questions, I commend you. However, it would be important for you to understand that the other half of the millennial generation (statistic made up by yours truly) is tirelessly swimming against the current trying to figure it out.
If you were to google “where do you see yourself in 5 years” the top hits are articles giving advice on how to properly answer that question. Ok so let’s stop and think about that reallll quick. There are endless articles on the ‘secrets to answering….’ does anyone else see the irony in that? This one teeny tiny question has become a full blown monster that now requires practice and research. Uh, call me crazy but doesn’t that wash away the entire genuine purpose of this question? Like oh ok here are the 3 best bullet points I should hit when answering this question so I can impress the guy wearing a sports coat at happy hour. No thank you.
Now, back to business. Want to know something absolutely riveting? I do not know where I see myself in 5 years. There, I said it. It’s out there and you know what? It feels damn good to say it. Contrary to societal belief that does not mean I lack ambition. Quite frankly, I am one of the hardest working people I know. Having a question mark hanging over the next five years of my life does not mean that I lack focus or passion and it sure as hell does not mean that “I need to get my sh*t together.” What I can tell you is this: my name will be the one on the office door and I will be able to go to yoga at 9AM instead of 6AM. I know that I will hold a position where I wake up pumped to dominate my to do list as opposed to doing it for a paycheck. I know the end goal of being in an environment that will allow my talents to shine as opposed to vigorously working on them on the side will be accomplished. I know that I will continue to make my loved ones proud and that I will smile extra big in the face of those who thought that my dreams were bigger than me.
I won’t pretend for half a second that the unknown is a beautiful depiction of sunshine and smiles but there is an aura of excitement surrounding it. Oh the possibilities! Want the cold hard truth? I actually believe that a part of growing up is not having every step of our life planned out. If we were given a road map with directions on how to get from point A to Z then where would the fun be? How would lessons be learned? When would we have a chance to discover our true calling?
Before I leave you to go about your day I do want to make something crystal clear. There is and always will be a difference between hustling to find your place and thinking it will fall in your lap. If you find yourself in the second category and are down right lazy then honey, I wish you the best of luck.
To conclude, the next time someone asks you THE question slap a smirk on your face and tell them that you will get back to them in 5 years.
* ok well, if you are in an interview maybe think twice about doing that * ;)
Still over here preaching,