I really hate this question. Anybody else with me? Let me tell you why. I used to give so much thought to this one. It’s a real common one when you interview for a job, or maybe filling out a questionnaire of some sort, or you may be reading a self-help book and it asks you visualize yourself in the future. I’m not saying don’t do that. We all have dreams and ambitions that we strive towards, work hard for, and are laser focused on. I know I do, but it goes a little bit deeper than that.
If we focus so much on where we see ourselves one year from now, five, or even ten, we lose sight of the now. There’s also a sense of regret or failure when that one, two or five year plan doesn’t look like originally thought it would. We’re not perfect and we’re constantly changing. I’ll admit, I focused so much on the future, that my blinders didn’t let me see anything else around me. It felt like a weight. I was on a never-ending hamster wheel because I wanted that plan to look a certain way, and it didn’t. Anytime someone would say, ‘focus on what you’re doing right now.’ I would dismiss them with a simple ‘pfft, how small-minded’ inner remark.
Maybe the joke was on me.
The path or the journey you are on now, is building the way to the future you, the state of being where you are supposed to ‘be.’ That’s going to look different at any month, year, or decade of your life. When we disregard the ‘now,’ or living in the present, living in what is currently happening to us, whether mundane or not, we are truly missing out and doing ourselves a disservice to who we are to become. Every action, every circumstance, every situation is a lesson and an opportunity for growth that will make us who we will be in a year, or two or five and it’s constantly changing. It doesn’t have to be so ‘set’ with a specific plan. We can have an idea of what we want or where we hope to be, but what if we are limiting ourselves by that one, single vision?
It feels so definite when you’re asked a question like that, like you’re supposed to have it figured out. It feels so definitive, like there’s no room for change. I can promise you that if asked today, my answer would be a whole lot different than when I was asked a year or two ago and that’s okay. It’s supposed to change both professionally and personally.
My life has taken me in twists and turns that I did not expect, some I didn’t anticipate or want, yet, they are now a big part of my formation and my plan for the future. In addition, this pandemic has really drilled one thing in me even more so- live in the moment. Focus on the NOW. Easier said than done. It all makes sense, though. You don’t always need to have a five year plan or a ten year plan. It feels short sided, and we aren’t living room for the blooming of long term smart goals. What’s the saying, ‘You make plans, and God laughs.’
So the next time someone asks, ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ Don’t let it overwhelm you. Don’t let it define you. It doesn’t make your dreams, aspirations, or goals trivial. On the contrary, you’re taking the time to nourish them, to make them a reality. The plan of what you want may not be the plan you need or the plan that will come to be, but if we focus on what’s right in front of us, cultivate that, allow it to guide us and lead to us to a greater purpose, we may discover a plan that was meant for us all along.