The Hardest Question for a Multipotentialite to Answer
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The Hardest Question for a Multipotentialite to Answer

Written by Emilie

Topics: Confidence, Goals

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.

Your Turn

How do you answer the question, “Where do you see yourself in 5+ years?”

72 Comments

  1. Jo says:

    I’m not sure when I was last asked that question, but I usually say something in line with the job or position I’m applying for, but it’s usually a pretty honest answer, because, when I’m applying for something, I’m genuinely interested in it, and want to head off down that path.

    At the moment, I’m getting used to knowing that there are several different career paths I’m massively excited about heading down, but I’m trying not to put too much pressure on myself to decide to go after one forever.

    I think the question I dislike most at the moment is ‘what do you do?’

    • Emilie says:

      Yeah, I hear you. In the past, my answers have felt very honest too. It’s just now, knowing what I know about myself, it might be a bit trickier to answer.

      And yep, that question sucks too. I have a few answers that I use, but none are perfect. Usually I say “I run a web-based business,” or “I’m a writer,” but it inevitably leads to a longer discussion, which I guess is ok depending on the other person and their attitude. Still sometimes wish I had a clear, simple job title that would encapsulate everything. Ah well, guess that’s the price to pay for doing something a little different (and awesome).

      • L.A. says:

        I may very well start answering the question “what do you do?” with the words “I’m a multipod.” :-) Given all the things I do on a daily basis, I would be telling half-truths if I were to respond with “blogger” or “small business owner,” because I am (and I do) SO much more that!

        • Emilie says:

          Heh yeah, I’m always tempted. You’ve got to be ready for a longer conversation if you do that though, as you will surely be met with a “you’re a what?” Oh well, maybe one day that term will make it’s way into popular lexicon. One can hope. :)

  2. Since I’m still in university, this question is pretty easy for me to deal with. I figure out how long it’ll be until I’m done my degree, and then where the extra years will take me along the university path (because I’m aiming for my doctorate). As it stands, I’d say that, in five years, I’d be done my Bachelors and have completed my first year of either just my Masters or of a Masters/Doctorate program (you can do that in psychology). Then I might also mention that I’ll have a couple more books out than I already do or something like that.

    This way is just to keep me from talking too much if people aren’t interested. If they ask, I’d definitely tell them about all the things I’m playing around with now that I’d like to have done before or by five years from now. Although, now that I think about it, this is probably a better answer than my previous one was, anyway, because it talks about goals while also talking about how I’m already actively working to achieve them. :P

    • Emilie says:

      Yeah, being a student is a great way to avoid this question, as well as the “what do you do?” question. I miss those days sometimes. I don’t however miss telling people “I’m in law school.” Their reactions were always so annoying. Either really impressed or kind of disgusted. In both cases, it felt like they were making an assumption about what kind of person I was. I was so happy when I graduated and no longer had to tell everyone I met I was in law school.

  3. Debi says:

    I love this answer as it really sums things up quite well and is the truth (at least for me). I enjoy the journey and always learn something new that takes me somewhere different.
    <>

  4. Em says:

    This post is to damn targeted at me :D I’m 25 and two months ago I came to England to do au-pair because I have no bloody idea about what to do with my life. Though I keep following all the great bloggers with their great “outside-the-box” thinking and ideas (including you) and though knowing there’s an actual word for this kind of weirdness I have – multipotentialite – I still feel uncomfortable not knowing how to answer that question – apart from trying to smile and saying something like:”Who knows, I’ll just see what comes by, anything could happen”. I don’t feel strong enough and I wish people wouldn’t ask such things ’cause I hate to think about future. I just love being now, really. And even thougn sometimes I am perfectly fine with that answer, sometimes I also feel so insecure and like “Who am I kidding?” and I become so scared of future.

    I’m trying to convince myself that it’s perfectly normal to not know but still can’t get absolutely sure that I’m not missing something and that I shouldn’t be doing something, going somewhere. Considering I never went to a college and my jobs so far didn’t follow any path, it was just doing whatever came up. I know many people made it anyway, even without college and stuff, just using their weblogs and life-couching, e-books and stuff, you know “following their passion” but I don’t believe I have what they have – the business soul. I can’t even think of a sort of business I could start, how exactly to turn things that I like into something profitable. I am trying to write an e-book and I do have some followers who are really into my writings, but how to make living of that? I still can’t figure out.

    So I wish I had more people like myself around me – more people who would never ask me this stupidly annoying question which is so useless – why does it matter where I’ll be anyway? Why don’t they simply ask “Do you have any plans for your life?” or something instead. It would be so much easier to say “Nah, not really”, if I didn’t expect the weird looks after my answer. But as I’m surrounded almost entirely by those “eternal students” who mostly study to avoid life and “one-niche-career” people who never seem to accept somebody who doesn’t fit this “must-have-one-true-call” society, I keep on doubting myself and can’t really find a way to show them that I can do it my own way.

    Why can’t we have something like Puttytribe in Czech Republic? :D It’d be so much easier if I could meet people like you face to face and actually work with them. To read the weblogs is not enough.

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Em,

      One of the reasons I created the Puttytribe, was to help with these exact issues and to create a place with support and brainstorm buddies abound– a place where no one would ever ask such questions.

      There is no in-person Puttytribe anywhere, but we do hold regular video conference brainstorms, called huddles. They’re a pretty close second.

      If finances are at issue, shoot me an email (emilie@puttylike.com) and we can talk about it. But I’d like to help.

  5. I struggle so much with that question, as well. Many would describe me as fickle and flightly, but whatever my “IT” thing is at an any given moment, I throw myself into it and am always more successful than I could have imagined.

    My answer to that question–where do you see yourself? (when I’m not put on the spot) is that I hope I’m just as curious and excited to discover my “next big thing” ten years down the line as I am today. I want to be passionately curious and to pursue every little opportunity to speaks to me, to acknowledge that little voice inside even when I don’t know the means of achieving my big dreams and ideal lifestyle.

    I hope that I will never be able to even fathom where I will a few years from now. That’s hard for people to understand–but I think predicting and hoping for specific circumstances can limit us and prevent us recognizing other great opportunities out in left field. Often, when we just follow our interest and our hearts, the right people, resources, and possibilities fall right into our laps.

  6. Kameha says:

    I just found your site and I love it! Thank you.

    I just graduated with a BS in Business with an emphasis in Marketing…only thing is, I have decided I DON’T want to be in the marketing field like everyone automatically assumes. I am mostly getting the questions: What are you going to do now? Where are you going to work? Are you applying for a full time job yet?

    It’s extremely annoying that everyone starts asking these questions as soon as “Congratulations!” is out of their mouth. I just graduated 2 months ago people! Get off my back and chill! And please stop assuming that I want to use my Marketing degree to get a full time job in marketing, because I don’t. And if I decide to become a nanny, or a dog walker, or go back to school to become a cosmetologist, then don’t judge me and tell me that I’m wasting my degree and my smarts. I promise that I am, actually, using my talents more than any of you think I am.

    Any suggestions on how to handle these questions without going into a long conversation explaining that I’m interested in about a billion things and may not get a full time job because I want to use a variety of skills instead of sitting at a desk all day and hating my life?

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Kameha,

      Welcome! It’s great to meet you. You’re definitely not alone. I heard the same things when I finished my law degree and decided not to become a lawyer.

      I think the main thing when people ask these questions is to respond with confidence. It’s hard, but try to exude happiness and excitement about the unknown, what might be coming next. Try not to over-explain because it comes off as defensiveness, just show your excitement, say you’re not sure what’s next, and leave it at that. It’s hard to do, but it gets easier and I’ve found that people tend to leave you alone as you become more comfortable with your multipotentiality.

  7. Joy says:

    Yesterday a friend asked me what my Summer plans are; how could I know when there is still so much of Spring left. I feel the same about projecting five years from now…I could be doing anything *anywhere*…following heart whispers leads to wondrous places and activities…I couldn’t possibly predict!

  8. Priya says:

    I’ve been thinking about looking into toastmasters as I am generally socially awkward on many occasions.

    I went on a job interview a few weeks ago (for a job that I really didn’t want) and started rambling about how I didn’t like sitting at a desk all day when the interviewer asked me about an internship I did in college. It was this particular internship I realized that a traditional office job wasn’t for me, but yet, I continued to go after these types of jobs.

    Anyway, I didn’t get the job since it was a sit-on-your-butt-at-a-desk-type-job.

    I probably shouldn’t have said that, huh?

    • Goodie says:

      lol. that’s awesome Priya! Why is it we continue to go after jobs we don’t want? I do the same.

    • Em says:

      This is something I do, too. Even when I don’t really feel like I want that kind of job, even when I know for certain that I don’t, I just give it a try ’cause I know they will probably take me ’cause I’ve already done it and I have the know-how.

      I think it’s just our closed eyes. We don’t see new opportunities around us so we go for the old ones, even when we know they’re not right. They’re the secure choices.

    • Emilie says:

      I sometimes think that when opportunities don’t work out, it’s often because they’re not a good fit for you and it’s a blessing in disguise. Conversely, the opportunities that fall into your lap often do so because you two are perfectly matched.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Aaagghhh!!! Table topics!!!!! :). Cool you started Toastmasters! I guess when people ask me where I see myself in 5 years, lately I just say, “I don’t know. Wherever the wind takes me. That’s just how I like to live my life.” Lately I don’t care what they think. I kind of feel sorry for them having this big ol’ plan to follow! :)

  10. Goodie says:

    I’ve learned that I genuinely don’t like being around people who would ask me that sort of question, it’s none of their concern. I don’t need anyone’s “approval” on where I’m going. It sounds harsh, but it’s the truth.

  11. Kate says:

    Oh man. Probably something along the lines of “well, five years ago I was playing competitive ultimate frisbee at university and getting drunk 6 nights a week in Chicago, I am currently teaching yoga and fitness classes and doing freelance design work on the side in Denver, who knows where I will be in five more? All I can say for certain is I will wake up every morning energized and inspired by everything around me- my work, people, where I am- as well as everything within me- love, creativity, strength, freedom.”

    Great post- back when I was still looking for traditional jobs I never knew how to answer this question. Now I just focus on how I want to BE rather than what I am doing. It’s awesome :)

    • Stu says:

      So, I currently teach yoga classes and do freelance design work on the side. When my daughter goes to college in the fall, I plan on taking the show to Denver. That town better be big enough for both of us!

      Just thought it was cool you were doing the same things… where I want to be doing them.

      -Stu

      • Kate says:

        That’s awesome, Stu! Let me know when you come to town :)

        • Stu says:

          That will definitely be a little while. I will be at WDS, though… and that’s coming up way too soon. :-) If you’re interested in connecting there, pop over to my site and send me an email or tweet… or I can stalk your site until after maintenance.

          -Stu

    • Emilie says:

      Great answers, Kate! Love what you’re up to. I’m about to move to Chicago, so let me know if you have any tips. :)

  12. That’s funny, I used to be a debater in high school and impromptus were my specialty. I somehow seem to be much better at giving provocative answers with less time to think than with more.

    I really like the 6th answer. The journey is so important, and it’s true. In the end, what do I care where I want to be in 5 years? I just want to live these 5 years fully first. Then we’ll see.

    I have been asked this question recently, and I was quite honest and said, now that I’ve fallen in love with entrepreneurship and realized I’m a very creative person, definitely be an entrepreneur helping people in some way or another. Probably have children, and let them take priority over everything else. In a much better place emotionally, and continuing to grow and expand. Still thinking outside the box, still challenging silly conventional assumptions, still bootstrapping my way towards whatever outrageous goal I have my eyes on at that point.

    Thanks for the post, Emilie. There are certain questions that we seem to encounter a lot of resistance with. Sometimes these questions are the ones we need to focus on most. I would encourage you to think exactly how you would answer it. Connect with that little voice inside of you that always knows the right answer, and follow your intuition.

  13. Josh says:

    To be honest it seems like a dumb question to me. Who’s supposed to know where they’d be five years from now?

    If someone at my “good dayjob” asked that, I might say, “Well, not here!” Other people I’d just say, “Hey, I don’t know. I just know I’m on a good path, taking computer classes and exploring business opportunities.”

    I suppose I should think of a good “interview answer” depending on who it is. However many creative companies or start-ups who I’d be interested in working for might not want typical answers.

    As for here I’ll just say, “I want to do many different things!”

  14. Kendal says:

    I’m still trying to figure out how to answer the “so what do you do?” question. I just have no idea how to answer and I feel so trapped when people ask me. sigh.

  15. I often joke that everything I do today didn’t even exist when I was in college (which was more than 5 years ago now), but that line sets me up well to answer that what I do 5 years from now may not exist yet, so it’s impossible to really know. Technology changes so fast.

    But the truth is that’s a bit of a crutch for me. I’m definitely a polypotentiate — I was just lucky to start as a journalist — which meant I had a new research project every day, and then evolve into the Internet — the ultimate research project.

    Today, my focus is the Internet and emerging technology (but that is a very broad topic). I’m fortunate that just about everything I do fits pretty well under the “Internet umbrella.” I write books (Web Sites for Dummies + 25 others), give keynotes and seminars, teach courses for creativeLIVE and Lynda.com, run my own digital design agency (web design, blogs, social media, and more), and I do a fair amount of consulting and speaking outside the US (because I speak more than one language and have a growing International network).

    Wow, I think that’s the most concisely I’ve ever summed all that up – I so appreciate what you do. It’s so validating to people like me. I really love your philosophy, your approach.

  16. Maria says:

    My reply to “where do you see yourself 5 years from now?”: “Hopefully someplace interesting.” It usually works, and even tends to get the topic off the idea that I should have a solid 5-year plan and onto the much more enjoyable topic of things that are interesting — to me and to the other person. :)

  17. Stu says:

    I say “In a box”. Looking at life from the perspective that you don’t know when it’s going to end, makes every day decisions quite a bit easier!

    …and when they say “No, seriously.”, I think I’ll start saying “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.” What a beautifully eloquent way to put it.

    -Stu

  18. I usually say something like, “I always want my life to be such that I have no idea what I’ll be doing in 5 years, because I don’t even know who I’ll *be* in 5 years. That’s what’s so exciting about living!”.

    When I look back 5 years, there is no way I could have predicted where I’d be right now. So why try? I’m an evolving being and I like it that way. Who I become will determine what I do and where I go, and I’m always growing.

    • Emilie says:

      That’s a great answer, Emma! I definitely couldn’t have predicted where I’d be five years ago either. Growth and evolution are what matters, you’re right.

  19. Thomas says:

    If I’d been given that toastmasters “where will you be in the year 2020″ prompt, I probably would have flipped it around into a speech on what I think or hope society will be like in the year 2020. That way I could’ve made some interesting speculation about “the future,” instead of “my future”. And talk about ideas and topics of universal interest instead of myself and my career. After all, I don’t think people really enjoy hearing others talk about themselves or their plans. I think they Act like they do to Be polite but what they are really asking for are interesting stories and theories that apply to them. Besides, when we talk about ourselves we can misrepresent ourselves or lead people into make false assumptions, but if we just talk about topics beyond ourselves, then our true natures come out via the way we express and think about things. Then people really WILL know us! :). And know us as people, not as the archetypes/stereotypes/stock characters suggested by the jobs and roles we play.

  20. Will says:

    I only mean this as another perspective on the situation, but in this case, I feel that you might have had a chance to use your Table Topics talk as a teachable moment about being a multipotentialite for the benefit of others in the room who might have been ready for such a message. I don’t know about your experience, but I’m constantly surprised by the number of people who may have the gene, but have never heard of anyone living a multipotentialite life. I know it can be difficult talking to others about our ‘otherness’, but telling your truth, in that kind of situation, might have proven interesting. :)

  21. Michael Coleman says:

    In relation more specifically with the question “what do you do,” I had an interesting insight I wanted to share. Being a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none, I’ve always struggled with the issue of “who am I and what do I do, and what will I be doing in the future?” I’ve finally found a college degree in something that I can be very passionate about, but I’ve never saw myself being solely limited to this focus.

    I’ve recently gotten involved in some very interesting programs, and I think I’ve found the perfect label for a career path that is inline with the multipotentialite ideology. Behold the serial entrepreneur. A serial entrepreneur is one who works on multiple projects over time, not always being projects related to each other.

    In five years I hope to be a successful serial entrepreneur, reaping the benefits of multiple projects behind me.

    • Emilie says:

      I agree. The serial entrepreneur is a great career for multipotentialites who are more sequential in nature, in that they prefer to focus on one thing only for a while and then move on to another thing, and so on. It works less well for a simultaneous multipod who likes having 5 different plates spinning at any given time. But yep, it’s definitely a good way to go for some. Congrats. :)

  22. Phil Maguire says:

    When someone asks me where I see myself in 5 years, I reply, “Alive. The rest is details”

  23. Yikes – this brings back too many years and times trying to justify my “whims” to others. Now, with a few more years under my belt of living “I gotta be me” I think I’d simply say,
    I’ll be even more of who I truly am.
    Then I’d fill in the other minute and 50 seconds talking to them about the importance of being true to themselves, no matter who that is.

  24. Jens says:

    Hi Emilie,

    my last job interview lays just 7 months behind me now, and of course the (to me) completely ridicoulos where-do-you-want-to-be-in-5-years-question came up. Since this wasn’t my first interview, I could answer it without thinking and pleased the interviewer with something that sounded focused and career-orientated. With a lie, honestly. Since the only true answer would have been “I don’t know, but most certainly not in the position I’m applying for now. What I know is that while I’ll be working for you, I will do my very best.” But which Sales- or HR-Manager wants to hear that?

    Which I find much more annoying is that someties I find myself telling that kind of business nonsense even to friends and relatives, knowing for sure they wouldn’t understand the truth. The truth that I can’t know and that I even don’t want to know! And that this is not some kind of mental disease or lack of will but MY WAY. And that I don’t want to change that, even if it means that sometimes I have to lie for a living.

    • Emilie says:

      “The truth that I can’t know and that I even don’t want to know! And that this is not some kind of mental disease or lack of will but MY WAY. And that I don’t want to change that, even if it means that sometimes I have to lie for a living.”

      Yes!

  25. Marc Madill says:

    I have no earthly clue but I can’t work to find out.. about to work on my Dreamlines again (via Tim “Four Hour” Ferriss) so I’m gonna try not look any further than 12-months ahead :)

    • Emilie says:

      12 months is about my limit too, Marc. I should get back to my Deamlines too and try that exercise again now. It’s been a while!

  26. Margaux says:

    This happens to be the standard interview question at my company, phrased more specifically to envisioning a better future in 3-years. When I answered this (twice) for my job, I was a bit blathery and said how I was growing with the company, creating value, learning to be more capable, blahblahblah. If I were listening to someone giving my answer, I’d know that person wasn’t being sincere. Oh well. They hired me anyway.

    If I were to answer this again now, I’d say something like:
    “I’ll be constantly learning new skills, refining the old ones, deepening my relationships, finding innovative ways to create value for others.” Of course, that’s a very interview-y answer. But for an interview answer, it hits all the right points about staying in the game (in terms of keeping up with a rapidly changing world, not meaning a specific line of work), knowing what’s worth money to other people, and that relationships are incredibly important no matter what you do.

    For just regular people, it depends on whether the person asking: a) really cares about the answer or is just making chitchat; b) is judging you by your answer or not; c) is someone you hope to have a future relationship with or not, and by that I mean any kind of relationship, business partnering, client, significant other, referral source, etc.

    Regarding “happy, healthy and wealthy” I think a better answer is “happier, healthier, and wealthier” as these things are rarely measurable in absolute terms. What counts as wealthy? Or happy? But relative to yesterday, I can say things are better: more money in my account, less debt; more time spent on the beach, less time spent in front of a computer, less time sitting in traffic, that sort of thing.

  27. Nicole says:

    It really is a tough question.
    I have seen some couples go through this question in their pre marriage counseling too.
    And to be honest, I do not think it is a fair question.

    Look at how fast times are changing these days, everything is going quicker, and there is so much more to do at the same time. So what we might actually accomplish in 5 years is extremely unpredictable right now with this ever changing and increasing life.

    We all as humans have goals but I think it is important to not get caught up in those goals and to be able to go with the flow. Sometimes your path takes you somewhere you had no intentions on going but it was the best way to go.

    So I think if I had 1-2 minutes to answer that kind of question, I would answer with what is above and then finalize by saying that no matter what I know I will be happy, loving, helpful and well.

  28. Carrie says:

    Hi,
    First I want to excuse me for my bad English, Dutch is my mother tongue. I’m 18 years old and maybe I’m multipotential but I don’t know it for sure. I really recognize things about being interested in everything: I’m a musician (and I like all kinds of music), I’m a painter, I study history at the university, I’m activ in religion stuff, I have a passion for languages, I’m interested in politics, education, nature, travelling, art, philosophy etc. And I’m excellent in all of these things and I constantly search for deepening. The difference I feel between myself and the descriptions made here, is that I never stop loving these things. I Always get new passions, but the old ones never disappear. That situation is very diffucult to me, because I often have the feeling that I will never be able to use and combinate my skills and passions in a satisfying way. For example, I still have many problems to decide if I’m studying the right thing at the uni. I have the qualities to get an academic carreer, but that’s so specialised that I would be unhappy I guess. A teacher-carreer would also please me, but I fear not getting enough intellectual challenge then… My career prospects and wishes change every day, so it’s difficult to make a choice of what I want to study at the moment, especially because I don’t feel very happy at the university now. Should I continue studying history, should I study Greek and Latin (which is probably more difficult)? I would like to combine more studies, but that efforts probably won’t have a reflection in the professional life after my studies. These are questions that are in my head all day and I can’t find a solution. Maybe you have some tips for me? Thanks a lot for reading this.

  29. Jana says:

    How could I possibly know what I’ll be doing in five years? That’s so far away! I don’t even know what I’ll be doing in five months, much less five years.

    Usually when people ask me questions like this, I say something like, “I have no idea. It just depends on how things go,” and leave it at that.

    Of course you would need to say something more impressive-sounding for a job interview, but I’ve gotten so tired of having to put on an act and impress people for jobs that I’ve decided to become self-employed instead. So I don’t care about impressing anybody anymore. :D

  30. Tabitha says:

    Thank you!!!!
    I have alway HATED this question! It’s still hard to answer, but things are starting to go in a general direction at least for the moment. School does help- just finishing my Masters and looking into doctoral programs that will give me the flexibility to do it the way I need to. That will hold me on the “5-year” question for altitude while at least! Lol

    Thanks for all you do!

  31. Andrew says:

    I put a bit of a joke answer on the Facebook post for this question. Thinking back on it, I realize the reason I did that is, whenever I’m asked this question (usually in an interview), a joke is what I go with 100% of the time.

    I go with a joke because, as soon as the question leaves the interviewer’s mouth, I feel my eyes drifting left. An experienced interviewer (or interviewee) knows that this indicates a person is making up an answer on the fly; as if they have never thought about the issue/question, or are attempting to lie. A joke is my way of lightening the mood and buying myself some time to work up an answer while the chuckle lingers.

    That moment of pause always bothers me, and no matter how much I attempt to mentally prepare, I’m never able to come up with a True answer to the question.

    Sometimes, I think BACK five years and try to imagine if any part of my present life could have been expected. The exercise can be frightening, as it shows how tenuous my “plans” can be. Basically any gap of five years in my life that I can think of has me living in completely different parts of the country, doing completely different jobs and knowing a completely different set of people.

    I’ll stop before I get melodramatic, but I suppose the only really True answer to the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” for me is, “Somewhere else.”

  32. Hong-Anh says:

    Oh well… I didn’t read this post before I answered this question in a job interview last week he he. Anyway, I was honest that I would do whatever job that allows me to translate my values into action. I told the interviewers that if I get the job I would want to focus on it in the next two years because it’s a good period of time to learn considerably about something. I think it was not a bad answer since I’m working in the non-profit sector, where many people change the types of job every 2-3 years. Even more quickly now since the economy is down and the job market has shrunk.

  33. Lilli H says:

    Hehehe… if I am asked this question, I tend to respond with “owning and running a business”. Then when people ask what type of business and I respond “Mmm… Dunno yet…” then list the possible 20 or so unrelated ideas I tend to get some raised eyebrows. :P

    By the way, I love your site Emilie :) I’ve been lurking for a while, but this is my first comment. I love knowing that our “short attention spans” can be used to our advantage!

  34. Nadine m says:

    I love this!!!

    I have been torturing myself for years because I have no idea what I want Or we’re i will be . I have several ideas lol. I thought I was the only with this problem I felt stuck and isolated very not within the nom. I’m glad I’m not alone!! To answer this with feeling a sense of relieve I ave no idea except to have money saved a house and to be able to afford my holidays, how I will get a
    all that only God knows!!!

  35. Johan says:

    Telling someone where you are in 5 years is the first step for disappointment. The chance that you wil get there is very small, so disappointment and frustration are around the corner.

    People are always looking for insurance. Safety, Predictability.
    But we have to make a distinction between FUN and RUN things.

    In RUN things (getting toiletpaper, surgery, taxforms, etc) whe want predictable results.

    In FUN things (exploring the world, loving someone, etc) we don’t want predicatbility, we want to be surprised.

  36. Birte says:

    Sometimes reading or hearing something makes you realize that you already knew that, but at a different -less conscious- level. Thanks Emilie, for making me understand what I already knew but didn’t accept for myself yet.

    Dear employers,
    Stop asking that annoying question in job interviews and in job evaluation conversations. I obviously have no idea what I will be doing in five years time. And I honestly think it’s not healthy for people to think that way. This doesn’t make me less ambitious. It actually makes me more ambitious I guess: to live life, trying to enjoy the ride and trying to make the ride enjoyable for others.

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