Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Take control of your future by creating a career plan

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

careerplan

By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer


The interviewer looks you square in the eyes and asks, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
 
You’ll probably reply with a well-rehearsed answer, something about wanting to grow with this company, proving your worth and evolving your relevant skills. Good interview response. But, what about where you’d really like be half a decade from now?
 
In order to manage your career effectively you need a plan. Otherwise you’re purely at the whim of employers and the economy. Creating a custom career plan for yourself gives you a strategic roadmap to follow.
 
Being Strategic Matters
Your career affects just about every aspect of your life. How much money you earn, daily satisfaction from work, job-related stress, the threat of unemployment…all are directly linked to how you manage your professional path.
 
Yet you’re not alone if you haven’t put much effort into planning your career. It’s a neglected aspect of our lives. People view it as a nuisance, rather than an opportunity to gain clarity.
 
Being strategic means looking ahead to the end results you want to achieve. From there you work back to identify gaps and hurdles. In total the process takes just a few hours once or twice a year!
 
Start With A Current Situation Assessment
Where do things stand with your worklife at present? This is the baseline that will be measured against as you start your career plan.
 
Here are some standard benchmarks to think about:
·         Current salary, benefits and take-home pay
·         Number of usable days of vacation and paid leave
·         Job title and level
·         What your commute is like on a daily basis
·         How much you are learning on the job versus through outside education
·         Whether you enjoy your work or not
 
Be honest with yourself as you rate each criterion. Less satisfaction with the status quo is motivation to plot a better future.
 
Describe Your Ideal Work Situation Five Years Out
If you had your way, where would your career be five years from now? Look at the Current Situation Assessment you completed above.
 
In each category, dare to dream about where you’d want things to stand if your plans came to fruition. Like increasing the compensation you earn. Moving up the ladder (or changing to a new profession entirely). Upgrading your skills or education.  
 
Allow yourself to imagine a day in the life of you-in-five-years. Visualize where you’d like to be living, the kind of work you’re enjoying doing, and what you’ll be buying with the money you make. These are positive things to strive for.
 
Identify Potential Barriers (And Solutions)
What stands between you and your ideal future career vision? In terms of boosting your income, maybe your company is only giving small raises. Five years from now you still won’t be earning what you think your worth.
 
That’s a real barrier to surmount. Solutions are required. You could work hard, learn how to be political, and pursue a series of promotions. Each one would put you in a higher salary bracket. Alternatively you could switch to a new employer every few years, attempting to increase your level and compensation every time.
 
The same goes for your other ideal criteria. Each one will have roadblocks to overcome. Don’t shy away from acknowledging these. It’s the only way to anticipate – and plan solutions for – the realities your progress will face.
 
Set Specific Goals
Now that you’ve envisioned where you’d like to be in five years, outlined key barriers, and brainstormed ways to get around the roadblocks, you’re ready to set realistic goals. These will form the basis of your custom career plan.
 
Try to be as specific as possible. For instance, don’t just say “I’d like to earn more money but a lack of formal education stands in my way.” A specific goal might be as follows: to double my current income in five years, by staying with the same employer, and pursuing my degree in (name subject here) part-time through Continuing Education.
 
Plot The Individual Steps
The above-stated goal is then broken down into detailed, actionable steps. These could be plotted in the following way:
·         Secure an internal mentor within a month, by making inquiries and approaching certain colleagues and managers (name them here) to ask for their input.
·         Investigate part-time programs at local colleges or universities that will give me the credential I need. Six weeks from now I’ll have researched programs online and called at least two post-secondary institutions about enrollment, prerequisites, costs and start dates.
·         Speak to my boss next week about how else I can position myself as a candidate of choice for upcoming promotions.
Schedule these activities in your time management system. Then check them off as you complete each one.
 
Monitor and Revise As Needed
Over a five year period, many variables in your life will change. So will the economy, technology, and the workplace.
 
Your goals will need to be adjusted accordingly. At least once a year do a thorough review of your Career Plan. Conducting this review more frequently lets you adapt more quickly.
 
By strategically managing your work trajectory, you improve your marketability. Start planning your career future now. What are you waiting for?