“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Interviewers pop this question often during job interviews. Sometimes the number is 5, sometimes 10. Irrespective of the duration, the interviewer senses the ambition of the candidate based on the answer given.
You can answer the question easily because the interviewer cannot validate your answer. No one knows how the future will turn out.
So, instead of speculating, let us examine reality. We are not looking to crack an interview here, so you do not have to make up answers.
Today, let us do a fun activity. Don’t worry, you do not need to get off your seat. You just need to think and introspect.
Ready? Let’s begin.
Think of your life 10 years back. Though a decade does not seem too long ago, you will notice how much has changed since then.
Back then, smartphones had just landed in the market and hardly had any apps that you know today. Instagram was just getting launched, Netflix had started opening up international streaming, and Whatsapp was only a slang word.
You clicked pictures with a digital camera. To make a payment, you pulled out your wallet and paid in cash. To order food, you called up a restaurant and mentioned your order.
Can you imagine the number of changes that have occurred in the last 10 years? If you had to go back a decade right now, you will have a hard time living the life you have led.
Take a moment to recall different aspects of your life 10 years ago. Consider your career, dreams, relationships, finances, personality, and any other attributes of your choice.
Do you notice the difference today? I am sure you do.
10 years back, I was setting up my first startup. I had a few years of work experience and no bank balance whatsoever. Every little part of my life has changed ever since. When I look back, I realize how long the decade took to pass by.
I will go through different aspects of life and the changes that have occurred in 10 years. Spend some time analyzing your life in those areas as we run by them.
How life changes in 10 years
1. Your current situation
Let us get back to the interview question, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” No, I do not expect you to answer that question now.
Instead, imagine you had to answer this question 10 years ago. How accurate would your answer be?
Did you think your life would turn out as it is today?
I sure did not imagine writing a blog. I always visualized a career in technology back then. If someone had asked me my opinion about blogging, I would have shrugged and said, “well, that’s boring.”
Though I was working in the web industry, a decade ago, blogging was yet to explode. WordPress was nowhere close to how sophisticated it is today. I recall many people facing the white screen of death problem where a WordPress website would show a blank page all of a sudden. The technical folks had to break their head to fix the issue.
I enjoy what I am doing today. 10 years ago, I would have a hard time digesting what I am currently doing, let alone enjoy it.
Did you foresee your current situation? If you’re like most people, “the past you” will be surprised to see “the current you”.
2. Your thought process and behavior
How much has your thinking and behavior changed over the last 10 years? Most people go through a drastic change in a decade.
The younger you are, the more variation you will observe. The reason is, during the early years, you encounter new people and circumstances. You wouldn’t have explored the world enough.
As you grow older, your new experiences will reduce. Sure, you might visit unfamiliar places and meet new people, but you can relate the experience with your prior knowledge in some form.
10 years back I was impatient, stubborn, and short-tempered. Over the years, I have mellowed down. I am still stubborn and impatient in some areas, but the intensity is nowhere close to how it was before.
Over the decade, my Myers Briggs Personality indicator has changed on two alphabets. Though the theory says the traits are inborn and permanent, the way I react to situations in life isn’t the same anymore.
3. Your dreams
Do you have the same dreams you had 10 years ago? If you were a teen back then, you might have wanted to become an astronaut, a pilot, an actor, and so on. Today, you no longer feel the same about profession anymore.
Some theories state that, as a child, we dream without limits and aim for what resonated with our hearts. I do not agree with that because, as a child, we do not know ourselves and the world enough.
As we gain experience, we understand what connects with our hearts better. For example, as a little boy, I had no idea that a career in programming existed.
10 years ago I only dreamt of a career in programming. Today, I do not write code anymore, but I enjoy writing content instead. That said, I still don’t hate programming. At the same time, my love for things has shifted, and I have found new avenues with age.
4. Your relationships
How much have your relationships changed over 10 years? Are you with the same partner? Did you turn into a parent? Do you hang out with the same friends? How have your conversations and demeanor changed with your parents and siblings?
Over a decade, many of your relationships will drift away. The reasons may not be negativity or hard feelings. More often, the bond isn’t strong enough to sustain the obstacles of distance and time.
The people who stay in your life for more than 10 years will almost certainly remain connected forever.
I have had the privilege of having the same friends circle whom I know for over 15 years. Other acquaintances have come and gone, but our core friend circle has remained steady.
I was a bachelor back then. Married life has certainly brought in a new perspective too. My relationships and respect for both my parents and siblings have deepened over the years.
5. Your career and finances
How different is your career and financial status today compared to 10 years ago? People go through a significant change with their careers in a decade. For some, the change is better than expected, some stagnate, and for some, it gets worse.
A new hire might have reached an executive position. A startup owner might have turned into a multi-millionaire. A student might have become an industry expert. A billionaire might have gone bankrupt. A working professional might have remained at almost the same career level.
I do not have any reason to complain about my current situation. I expected more achievements, but I still believe I have the time to make it happen.
My net worth is nowhere comparable to the elite but compared to a non-existent bank balance a decade ago, I am in much better shape.
How to make your next 10 years count
How was your impression of the last decade that has gone by? You might feel pleased about how far you have come or feel dejected about not achieving enough. In any case, your last 10 years are in the past, and you cannot change what happened.
What you can do about the next 10 years ahead is more crucial.
1. Seek clarity
A decade is too long of a time to sail by without a clear direction. Ask yourself where you see yourself in 10 years. Every now and then, measure your progress to see if you’re on track.
You might underestimate the power of small improvements thinking, “I will start after 3 months. How much of a difference can 3 months make in a decade?” But such a thought process is flawed.
If you do not find yourself moving in the right direction 3 months from now, chances are you would have gone totally astray in 3 years.
At all times, know your destination and make sure you are on the right track. Every time you find yourself deviating from the target, make a course correction.
If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.Yogi Berra
2. Prepare for changes in your thought process
Just like your thoughts have changed in the last 10 years, they will change in the future too. You might feel like making a drastic decision and taking a leap of faith today. Before you take the plunge, ask yourself if you can continue doing the same for another decade.
You won’t always have a clear answer, but take time to evaluate the long term consequences of a significant decision before diving right in.
3. Your dreams can change
Your dreams can change over time. If you are passionate about a specific area right now, do not assume you will only dream of that one goal for the rest of your life.
As you mature, you will understand yourself and the world around you better. Your dreams can change. What seems terrific today can appear average after 5 years.
Do not break your head about making your passion your career. As far as you choose a career which you can connect with, you’ll do fine. You do not have to love it from the bottom of your heart and dream about it day and night.
Cal Newport mentions how the passion hypothesis is flawed in his best selling book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You. You need to put in the time to develop expertise first before you make any skill your passion.
Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before.Cal Newport
4. Consider the bonding of your relationships
Are you putting up and tolerating specific relationships even when you do not like them? If yes, take a second look at the reason why. Over the years, the weaker relationships which bother you will drift away one way or the other.
If any relationship is troubling you and you do not see it turning fruitful in the long run, you are better off pulling the chord right now. Keep your distance from acquaintances, friends, coworkers, and partners who add negativity in your life.
Are all your friends the previous decade still dear to you? I doubt it. Likewise, many years later, the number of relationships that truly matter to your heart will only be a handful. Identify them early and do not let them go.
5. You can achieve massive results in 10 years
Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.
This quote has been mentioned by many successful people like Bill Gates and Antony Robbins. I do not know who said it first. Nevertheless, the quote conveys the magnitude of change possible over a decade.
University players have turned into international sportspersons, timid teens have matured into celebrity actors, the silent youngsters have gone on to become world-famous comedians, and the students with bad grades have built a technology empire.
The results that you can achieve in 10 years are more than anyone can fathom, including yourself. All you need is a vision to dream big, a realistic plan to get there, and the discipline to put in the efforts.
When you look at the calendar, a decade does not seem long. But when you look at yourself, you will realize how long it has been and how far you have come.
You cannot change the events which occurred in the last 10 years of your life. But the next 10 years have 120 months and over 3650 days to go. Make them count.
What I am not:
What I am:
Continuously improving self-learner
Productivity/Time Management Obsessed