A few months ago I was at a Toastmasters meeting and I came up against my worst nightmare. There’s a portion of every meeting called Table Topics. The way Table Topics works is they give you a topic on the spot and you then stand up and give an impromptu 1-2 minute speech on that topic.
It’s pretty scary when you first start doing it, but it’s great practice if you’re trying to stay on your toes for any speaking engagements you might have coming up.
At this point, I had been doing it for a few months. My speeches weren’t amazing, but I could usually think of something to talk about and get a few laughs out of people.
This one time however, the question hit me square in the face and I was stumped. It was:
“Tell us about what you’ll be doing in the year 2020?”
I had no idea how to answer that. There were too many possibilities.
In my nervous state, I made something up to fill the time. I talked about my scriptwriting goal, and how in 7 years, I would be in LA writing for a teen drama that I’d created. Even as I spoke about this, I spoke tentatively. I wasn’t exactly exuding confidence.
The truth is, I have no idea if this is where I’ll be in the year 2020. But that was one possible answer, so it didn’t feel like a total lie…
Thing is, I could just as easily be in Chicago, running a co-working space/cafe or on a book tour for my first novel, or working as a functional medicine doctor in Brooklyn. I am a multipotentialite after all.
In retrospect, I should have just said that. But I was nervous, and 1-2 minutes didn’t feel like long enough to get into multipotentiality. I was afraid that all they would hear is “I’m a dabbler with no direction and no idea what I want to do with my life.” I didn’t want that, so I filled the time as best I could, and answered the question with something plausible. One of my many “potentials.”
After it was all over, I remember shuddering, and feeling like I had betrayed myself. It was so unlike me and everything I stand for.
I tried to forgot about it afterward. I let the memory fade, as though it had never happened. It was just a silly Table Topics speech and I’d bombed, much like every comedian does in her early days. Not a big deal. Move on.
But then months later, something happened that shook the memory awake. I received an email from a Puttylike reader. She told me that in an interview she was asked the question “where do you see yourself in five years?” and had had no clue how to answer it. At that moment, something clicked in my head. I suddenly realized why I had had such a hard time giving that Table Topics speech months earlier.
Of course! The “where do you see yourself” question was a common annoyance for multipods everywhere, much like the One True Calling question.
How do You Answer the Question, “Where do you see yourself in 5+ years?”
I asked you guys on Facebook last week, and got some fabulous answers. Here are a few of my favorites:
- “Where my creativity and opportunities brings me.”
- “I generally see myself being wherever & doing whatever makes me happy and provides a stable lifestyle for my family.”
- If it’s a job interview I come up with something that sounds like what they want to hear.
- I usually answer “happy, healthy and wealthy.”
- I usually say, “I’ll keep listening to my intuition and see where it guides me. That will take me cooler places than trying to plan it out in my mind with what I know now.”
- For a Job interview: “The journey is so much more important than the destination. Since I don’t yet know everything I will learn here, I can’t yet imagine all the places it might take me.”
- In an interview I make up some crap that they want to hear, such as I’m going to get a higher degree in the field I’m applying for, or obtain a certification that will advance me in the field. I certainly don’t tell them I’ll be sick of this career within about two years and be headed off in another direction!
- “Being happy.”
- “Helping people.”
In sum, the answer seems to depend who’s asking. If it’s a potential employer interviewing you, you might tell them what they want to hear. If it’s anybody else, a nosy relative, someone on your kickball team, a friend, give them an abstraction.
Here’s what I mean by an abstraction. Don’t talk about the specifics, like the medium you’re going to be working in or the particular project. That is impossible for you to know. Instead, broaden out. Talk about the TYPE of work you might be doing, the TYPE of change you want to have in the world, and the TYPE of feelings you want to experience. Focus on the Whys, not the What.
Of course, I still have no idea how I would fill 1-2 minutes of time answering this question. I guess if it were to happen to me again, I would probably spend the time talking about what it means to be a multipotentialite. Then I’d give them a “happy, healthy, and wealthy” sort of answer right at the end.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what other people think about where you’re going to end up. What matters is that you are comfortable not knowing, and trusting that as long as you follow your curiosity and your intuition, you will be right where you are supposed to be.
How do you answer the question, “Where do you see yourself in 5+ years?”