Where do you see yourself in five years?
Does anyone else hate that question as much as I do? Talk about the pressure! You mean you want me to decide what my life is going to look like half a decade from now? I have trouble enough deciding what to make myself for dinner each night!
But the teacher in me knows that guiding questions are wildly helpful, even still. Without a vision, the people will perish, as an old mentor used to reference from scripture.
Having a vision for our lives and intentionally carrying out that vision is what separates merely showing up at work every day from progressing onward in our careers every moment. There seem to be two roadblocks that get in our way of living out this vision in our careers:
figuring out exactly what that vision is and following through with it.
Let’s talk about both.
Finding something more than a career.
It’s challenging enough to put your finger on what that career should be, isn’t it? But let’s stop thinking about careers in terms of profession – the line of work you’re forever committing to based on your degree, your training, your past experiences. Different degrees can be pursued, additional training can be acquired, new experiences can be had, and you can trade in your profession or job for another one whenever you like, if you’re willing and able to put in the work to do it.
Let’s instead start thinking about careers in terms of life’s work. Now that’s something that’s will get us started with our vision!
But hold up a second. It feels like we’re trading in an intimidating 5 year plan question for something even bigger…
You’re exactly right. But brush off that fear ladies! Never be afraid to dream!
Here are some questions you might consider to help you dive into the ocean of possibilities before you:
What gets you excited? What do you wish you could change? When do you feel most alive? When do you feel like the best version of yourself? How might the things you enjoy be shared with others? What do you think the world needs more of and how could you help usher that in?
Capturing the essence of your life’s work is a deep and rich process, one that in many ways captures the essence of who you are and what you’re all about. Jobs and professions will come and go, but finding the passion that will harness within you a deep sense of purpose will be worth more than any pay check.
Asserting the vision.
So we have the vision. We know the dream. Maybe we’re even in a job that’s directly connected and feels (or felt) right. And yet the question of “What next?” lingers still.
Let me confess this is the area in which I struggle the most. I know ever so clearly the life’s work to which I am called, and I am so thankful for that fact. Yet the past four years have been filled to the brim with significant career transitions, and I still don’t feel settled. However, I do feel as though I am living out the vision of my life’s work.
Daily, I do my best to assert that vision. I do the job I was hired to do. I prepare myself to work as hard as I can. I reflect on what goes well and what I need to change. I observe the practice of others with humble, appreciative, and critical eyes. And I refuse to stop considering what might be the next step as I pursue the work to which I’ve been called.
These days I believe less and less that living out the vision of my life’s work with intentionality is about being comfortable and secure with the current state of my career or knowing with confidence where that career path will lead in five years.
I have ideas of three or four different places I might be in my career five years from now, and a complete understanding that I could encounter something at work tomorrow that might render all of those ideas immaterial.
With that in mind, I’ve thrown the concept of a five year plan out the window, and have committed to dream bigger with a continually open mind. Feel free to join me if you like.
Let’s commit to ensuring that we never stop growing, never stop pouring out the effort and energy we have to give, and never stop focusing on the vision to which our hearts have been called.
– Photo credit: Brooke Cagle