My dad is a financial advisor, meaning he’s a pro at goal-setting and scheduling. How many clients he has, how often he meets with them, and how much he earns in a year are all, essentially, up to him. Although he’s been leaving motivational leaflets on my desk since middle school, he still doesn’t comprehend that my mind doesn’t work the same way his does. Honestly, his sort of “5-year business plan” goal-setting method stresses me into paralysis. (Also, from my perspective, his life seems almost entirely structured around his professional goals, which also terrifies me. No, thank you.)
Regardless, with graduation just around the corner, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” has become his favorite question. He’s taken to hounding me for specific answers to questions like, “Exactly how much of your student loans will you have paid off? Where will you work? How much money would you like to make?” or, worst of all, “What steps will you take right now to accomplish these goals?”, and I’ve taken to avoiding his questions in every manner I can think of.
Probably to his dismay, my answers are much vaguer than he’d like. Mostly, when I’m 26, I’d just like to be involved in a women’s church ministry, have at least half my student loans paid off, be working in science communication, and, if the stars align and the wind blows from the right direction, be married. It’s not that I’m not striving for higher than that – for example, my professional dream is to have a Master’s degree and work for NASA, Boeing, or Lockheed Martin – but the things on my list are the things I’ve learned matter the most to me.
If college has taught me anything, it’s that I am more than my academics or professional goals. It’s not that these things are unimportant or not worth giving attention to, but they aren’t the entirety of who I am. If I wanted to please my dad, I could probably give him a list of acceptable salaries, companies, graduate school programs, and locations, as these are things I’ve thought about extensively (and that are helpful for, y’know, responsible adult living), but they aren’t reflective of the person I want to be in 2021. I don’t want “where I am in five years” to solely be defined by my professional life – a concept that seems nearly out of the question for him.
Though my dad and I have talked about my specific professional goals, where I’ve mentioned many of these things, I still stubbornly continue to avoid questions about “where I see myself”. Maybe I’m just being silly. Maybe I’m too conscious of how much I don’t want my life to be “breakfast, work 9-5, dinner, TV, sleep, repeat.”
Regardless, I imagine “Where do you see yourself in five years?” has been at least a small topic of conversation in the lives of most graduating seniors. What do you think? Do you think about this question solely in terms of professional life, personal life, or a mix of both? If you’re feeling adventurous, where do you see yourself in five years? Alternatively, where don’t you want to be?
…and if these kind of questions drive you entirely up a wall, here’s a fun Internet game to take your mind off things.