It’s OK To Not Have A Five Year Plan

Have you ever encountered the dreaded “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question during a job interview? I would guess most of us have. There are not many great answers to this question. Many will sound like either you are already plotting to leave the job for which you are currently interviewing or you lack ambition.

I admire those who, at an early age, already know what they want to do and plot a course of action. I was not one of them. Even after college graduation, I wondered what I was good at and what type of work I could be happy with. Ultimately I settled on an approach of being ready for opportunity.

For those of you who don’t have a ready answer to the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question, I offer the following guidance: Be the type of person that is ready for opportunity when it presents itself.

So how do you do that? Here is a blueprint:

  1. Do your current job, even one you don’t like, with diligence. Trust me, people will notice.
  2. Go beyond your current job description and take on some of the tasks associated with the next level which you wish to be promoted. Promotion becomes easy when you have already demonstrated your competence at that level.
  3. Make learning a lifetime habit. Take evening courses at your local community college. Read books. Search the internet for current best practices in your areas of interest. Listen to relevant career-oriented podcasts. Attend seminars. Work towards a certification. Spend your spare time wisely. Invest in yourself.
  4. Never be satisfied with how good of a job you are doing. Always be looking for better ways to accomplish your tasks. Document your processes and evolve them over time with new information. Share them with others.

So back to the original question “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I will leave the exact phrasing of the answer to you, but incorporate the concept of “I’m always ready for opportunity” with the blueprint steps noted above. If I were interviewing someone, that would be an answer that would impress me.

A reminder that my Kindle book “Project Management For The Real World” is available at


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