“Where do you want to be in five years?”
That dreaded question interviewers like to ask.
If you’re entering the job market, you may not know what progression will be open to you or which route you want to take.
You might be asking yourself, “does anybody really know where they’ll be in five years?”
It’s undoubtedly a difficult question, but the great news is that it isn’t impossible. And it isn’t just beneficial to the interviewer asking.
By taking time to create goals to become successful in 2022 and beyond:
- Research the industry you’re hoping to join,
- Understand the different opportunities available,
- Whittle them down into pathways you think you’d be well-suited for,
- Consider what will make you happy in your career, and basing your five-year plan around that,
- And finally breaking down your five-year plan into yearly sets of goals,
You’ll not only have a bang-on answer to that question that is sure to impress any interviewer, but you’re much more likely to actually get what you want out of the next five years and longer.
Benefits of setting goals
Setting yearly ‘micro-goals will motivate you to achieve the much larger challenge you aim to complete five years down the line, for example creating goals to become successful in 2022. Other benefits of goal setting include:
- Helping you to focus
- Providing tangible proof of your progress
- Preventing straying away from the ultimate goal
- Encouraging sustained momentum
- Promoting self-discipline and behaviour change
- Affirming self-believe and building self-confidence
And much more.
As we step into a new year, you may be contemplating what New Year’s resolutions you’ll be challenging yourself to. But our challenge to you is to skip the usual resolution that you opt for every year and instead set goals that will put you on the path to career success.
Think about a goal that you can achieve in 2022 that will also feed into another goal for 2023 and so on for the next five years. There’s no time like the present to get what you want from your job and career.
What is a smart goal?
When working on your five-year plan, and breaking it down into smaller, more manageable goals, make sure that every challenge you’re setting yourself is S.M.A.R.T.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Timely
Not only will this increase your chances of successfully hitting your milestones and staying on track for more tremendous success, but it will also show an interviewer who asks this question that you can back your decisions up. That will really impress them.
How to stay on track with your goals
By breaking down a five-year plan into yearly goals, or even smaller chunks, you automatically increase your success chances. People who set goals are ten times more likely to achieve them, but writing them down on paper is only the first step. So, how can you make sure you stay on track and don’t quit?
- Make an emotional connection to your goal
Not all goals are going to be exciting, primarily when they’re associated with much larger, longer-term goals. So, to help you stay on track at all times, it’s essential to make an emotional connection with every single goal you set.
We also recommend only working on one goal at a time. If you try to juggle too many, you’re more likely to give up on all of them.
- Have a tangible record to hand
Spending a good chunk of time preparing your goals and writing them down is a great way to get started, but if you want to almost guarantee success, you can’t then put your record in a drawer somewhere and only pull it out when it’s time to start the next one.
Keep it to hand at all times, in your wallet or purse, so that you can pull it out whenever you’re tempted to skip a task. Try to tie all of your micro-goals together. This way, when you’re lacking motivation, you can pull out your record, remind yourself why you’re doing this (that’s the emotional connection bit we just talked about) and why you need to keep going if you want to hit the next goal in 2022 and the one after that, and so on.
- Keep a diary
This will help to keep you accountable. Keep a running diary of what you’ve done and go back over it now and then. You’ll be able to see your progression in black and white, a surefire way to help you stay motivated.
You can even use this diary as a sort of journal. Write down your frustrations and highlight how success makes you feel. Make it as lighthearted or as funny as you like. Yes, you’re trying to achieve great things, but that doesn’t mean the process shouldn’t be fun.
A physical diary is also an excellent tool when discussing your five-year plan with a potential employer. If you start now, you’ll already have something to talk about at your next interview.
We recommend looking back through it and pulling out a few points to discuss, highlighting that you don’t just talk the talk; you’re very much a walk-the-walk type of candidate.
Sticking to your guns and achieving your goals consistently is hard work. If it’s easy, there probably isn’t much benefit in it. So a great way to help you stay on track with your goals is to troubleshoot early on.
Before starting your next goal, think about what could happen to throw you off course and what you could do in response. This could be as simple as getting sick and losing momentum for a while.
- Celebrate every milestone
It’s so easy to fall into the habit of ticking one goal off and jumping headfirst into the next one. But make sure you’re taking the time to celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may feel to you. At the very least, it’ll give you something to look forward to.
- Think about what additional help you might need
Just because a five-year plan is yours and yours alone, that doesn’t mean you can’t get help along the way. In fact, we encourage it. Think about who you already know that could mentor you through the process, how you can find people that may be willing to help, and make notes in your record about what your employer would need to do to support you (and show this to the interviewer so that they can get on board straight away).
Investing in an online course that you can work through in your own time will also give you access to knowledge from people who are already actively working in the field, and whose insight and teaching will be invaluable.
- Connect with others who share similar goals
This can be vital to success. Being in contact with people going through the same thing you are can be truly invaluable. You can celebrate their (and your) successes, offer support if someone (or you) is struggling and be accountable to each other, helping you stay on track.
Download our goal planner
It’s our goal to help as many people achieve their career goals as possible, and we’ve developed a goal planner to help you get started, monitor your progress and stay focused on the bigger picture. We’ve even included a diary template that you can make use of.
You can even email the goal planner back to us, and one of our course and career advisors will review it and set up a call with you to help you get the most out of this next year, the next five years and even the next ten years if you like. Check it out in our Be Ready section.
While no one can predict the future, you can take the lead and do everything to make your vision a reality, not to mention impress any interviewer that asks that not-so-scary-now question.