Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years? – Answering For Personal Reflection

Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years? – Answering For Personal Reflection

No matter if you are preparing for a job interview or find yourself reflecting on your latest life occurrences, you could find yourself trying to answer the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” This may seem like a broad question that’s impossible to answer. In fact, it’s a question that many people struggle to respond to when required to do so.

But, figuring out an answer to the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years” could not only help you secure the position you’ve long been hoping for during your next job interview but, overall, it could also make you more successful in your personal and professional life as well. Continue reading to find out why it’s ideal to come up with an answer to the question and the best ways to do so.


Answering for Personal Reflection

As people go through a quarter or midlife crisis, they may find themselves more and more concerned about answering, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Unfortunately, it may seem impossible to come up with an answer as figurative walls cave in around, and you feel more pressure to come up with the right response.

In fact, not being able to come up with a response to the question is what often contributes to quarter and midlife crisis’s. For example, one study found that approximately 75 percent of those between the ages of 25 and 33 experience a quarter-life crisis because they have doubts about their career, finances, and relationships. Other studies report the figure could be as high as 86 percent.

Additionally, more than 60 percent of respondents indicated that finding a career they were passionate about was the driving factor behind their quarter-life crisis. Furthermore, more than 50 percent of those surveyed said that when comparing themselves to their friends, they feel anxiety because they are not as successful. Without a clear vision or resolution in site, young adults enter into crisis mode.  

This article details how one of the top reasons for entering a quarter-life crisis is the fact that you feel there is no escaping from your current job. Meaning, people do not see room for future growth, and they are no longer capable of answering “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Feelings of entrapment are some of the primary causes of quarter-life crisis.

Nathan Gehlert, a psychologist from Washington, D.C., said that the typical sufferer is a highly-motivated individual, suffering because they feel as though they are not living up to their real potential or because they are falling behind others. If this sounds like you, Gehlert recommends thinking outside of the box. Do not define yourself to your degree, and don’t be afraid to expand your horizons.

  • Figuring Out What You Want to Do, But Having Realistic Expectations

If you’re struggling to see a vision of your future, perhaps it’s best to reflect on what you want to do, but be humble in your aspirations. As Adam Savage explains in an episode of his podcast Still Untitled, there’s a slim chance that in five years you end up doing what you had set out to do initially. However, Savage still believes it to be beneficial to ponder where you see yourself in five years.

That’s because he believes that you should be chasing a general idea of what you want to do. Rather than focusing on a single goal, instead, concern yourself with broader concepts. Research from the Harvard Business Review backs this theory, which states that instead of focusing on a specific purpose, task, or job, you should instead focus on what you would like to learn over the next five years.

  • Setting Goals

As you carve out ideas of where you see yourself in five years, you should set goals that define your journey. Meaning, instead of setting a goal such as, “I want to earn a million dollars over the next five years,” instead focus on things that would help create a journey that was meaningful and worthwhile. For example, consider things such as:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • With who do I want to spend my time?
  • How do I want to spend my time?
  • What activities am I excited to do every day?

Focusing your goals on things that bring you fulfillment will allow you to define better where you see yourself in five years. For example, imagine you have always wanted to learn Spanish. A realistic goal is to speak the language fluently within five years. Since this is a life skill that you’ve always tried to acquire you’ll work hard to achieve it and will find much more fulfillment out of achieving your goal.


Answering for Professional Reasons

Answering For Professional Reasons

Even though the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years” is daunting as-is, it’s even more intimidating when you need to answer the question in an interview. Unfortunately, this is a standard interview question that has caused frustration for years. If you are preparing for a job interview, it’s crucial that you have an idea how you will answer the question.

  • Gaining an Insight Into Your Mindset

Interviewers ask this question to help gain a better insight to your mindset. They want to get a sense of your hopes and aspirations and to find out what you value in life. Your answer will “pull back the curtain” and allow them to see how you operate. Are you arrogant? Are you unrealistic? Are your aspirations high enough, and are you a go-getter? These are all things an interviewer wishes to know.

The hiring manager asking the question full well knows that you have no idea where you’ll be in five years. Rest assured that there’s no single correct way to answer this question. You can’t look into the future, so you’d be wise to avoid giving them a specific plan with a monthly breakdown. Instead, focus on your dreams and where you would like to take your career.

  • Focus on the Skills You Wish to Learn

​​​​​​​Much like how we advised you to focus on the skills you wish to learn over the next five years, we recommend you do the same when asked this question in an interview. A hiring manager will want to see that the position aligns with your goals and aspirations. This demonstrates not only how the job can help you grow but how you will be a valuable asset to the company as well, motivated to succeed.

Imagine you are interviewing for a job with a healthcare company and an interviewer asks this question. A reasonable way to answer it is by saying that you’re excited about the opportunity to work in the position because, in five years, you see yourself as someone with deep expertise in the healthcare sector while gaining managerial experience, potentially taking the lead on projects.

This answer is both broad and realistic. It demonstrates that you have an idea of how you’d like to better yourself in the coming years and how the position for which you’re interviewing can help you do so. It also focuses on the experiences you’ll gain working in a position and what you’ll learn along the way, which demonstrates you have goals and aspirations to better yourself.

  • Answers to Avoid

First and foremost, it’s essential that you remain focused in the right industry. It may sound ridiculous, but many people take a job in one sector, even though they have dreams and aspirations to work in another. Perhaps this is out of necessity to avoid a gap in employment or to make money. It’s not the end of the world if you do, but you should know the skills you’ll gain in the process.

If you’re applying for a job in an entirely different industry, you may not want to mention that you have goals of working in a separate sector within five years. The hiring director will interpret this as you wanting to leave at the first chance something better arises. And, they will likely invest their time in someone who they can grow and mold.

Instead, focus on the skills and experiences you would learn by working in that position. Don’t tip your hand that you plan on leaving the company and that the position does not fit into your plans for long-term growth. But, also recognize that each job brings unique opportunities to the table and that you could still grow from taking a role that doesn’t fit your career goals.

Another typical answer to avoid is “I don’t know.” This is the worst answer you could give. If an interviewer asks you to answer the question and you are not immediately sure how to respond, take a deep breath and think about how you’ve grown over the last five years. Shape this into an answer that reflects on how you will improve in the coming five years.

But, do not give an unrealistic answer either. Hiring managers will know when you provide a response filled with “fluff.” Remember, they’ve asked this question hundreds of times to other candidates. It’s their job to distinguish when you are not being genuine with your response. Setting realistic expectations for yourself will make you seem like someone with who they’d like to work.  

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