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  • Where Will You Be In Five Years?

    Most people have been asked that perennial, and somewhat annoying, question: “Where do you see yourself in five years? Knowing your career goals is challenging for even focused person.

    Upstart: Management

    Most people have been asked that perennial, and somewhat annoying, question: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Of course it is asked most often in a job interview, but it may also come up in a conversation at a networking event or a cocktail party. Knowing and communicating your career goals is challenging for even the most ambitious and focused person. Can you really know what job you’ll be doing, or even want to be doing, in five years?

    What the Experts Say
    In today’s work world, careers take numerous twists and turns and the future is often murky. “Five years, in today’s environment, is very hard to predict. Most businesses don’t even know what’s going to be required in two or three years,” says Joseph Weintraub, a professor of management and organizational behavior at Babson College and co-author of the book, The Coaching Manager: Developing Top Talent in Business. While it may be difficult to give a direct and honest response to this question, Weintraub and Timothy Butler, a senior fellow and the director of Career Development Programs at Harvard Business School, agree that you need to be prepared to answer it. And you need to treat any conversation like an interview. “Every person you talk to or meet is a potential contact, now or in the future,” says Weintraub.

    The first step is knowing the answer for yourself. “It’s a very profound question. At the heart of it is ‘where does meaning reside for me?'” says Butler. You have to clarify for yourself what you aspire to do with your career before you can communicate it confidently to others.

    Be introspective
    Figuring out the answer to this question is not an easy task. “The real issue is to do your homework. If you’re thinking this through in the moment, you’re in trouble,” says Butler. In his book Getting Unstuck: A Guide to Discovering Your Next Career Path, Butler cautions that you need to be prepared to do some serious introspection and consider parts of your life that you may not regularly think about. “It starts with a reflection on what you are good at and what you are not good at,” says Weintraub. Far too many people spend time doing things they are not suited for or enjoy. Weintraub suggests you ask yourself three questions:

    1.      What are my values?

    2.      What are my goals?

    3.      What am I willing to do to get there?

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