Three Responses For When People Ask For Your Life Plan (& You Have No Idea)

Have you gotten the, “So where do you see yourself in five years?” question one too many times? It can be overwhelming enough to figure out what to do in a day, but thinking about your life years at a time can feel like too much to handle. So how do you respond when you’re not sure what you want to do long-term, but you feel like you need an intelligent answer? Here are three ideas to get you started.

  1. “I can definitely see myself working on a team of people long term.” Instead of the specifics (that you aren’t sure of yet), focus on general principles of work. Do you like working solo, or on a team? Are you entrepreneurial? By giving some general parameters of your ideal work environment, you will be giving an answer while still giving yourself options. Additionally, these general guidelines will help aid you in your job searching!
  2. “In order to work toward that goal, I am ____.” It’s always reassuring to show others (and yourself) that your current endeavors are preparing you for your future goals. Learn to see how what you’re doing in the present is preparing you for the future, even in small ways. For instance, if you want to be a teacher and are currently babysitting, you can explain how working with children in your babysitting gig is preparing you to work with kids as a teacher. If you can see how your present is making a positive impact in your overall plan, you will be motivated to continue working hard…and you will be able to answer those tough life plan questions.
  3. “I’m keeping my options open, but I’m currently looking into____.” Don’t feel pressured to have a complete answer for each question you’re asked. It’s perfectly fine to not know yet! Many people make the mistake of feeling so pressured to choose a career that they end up choosing something they hate. Instead, be confident in where you are at in the process. If you don’t know what you want to do, that’s okay. The key is to actively pursue your interests in the present, instead of allowing your uncertainty to paralyze you into immobility. For instance, if you love music but aren’t sure if it’s a hobby or career, you can say, “I’m interested in music, and am looking into both the performance and production aspects of that career.” By allowing your uncertainty to fuel curiosity instead of apathy, you will be well on your way to finding a career you are genuinely passionate about.

Do you feel less intimidated by the questions about your life plan after reading these tips? Remember to focus on the key components of your dream job, show how your present work connects to those future key components, and let go of any pressure to have the perfect answer all figured out. As you allow yourself to explore various options, you will be able to see a wide variety of careers and find what sparks your interest. Additionally, consider turning the question around. Ask the person you’re conversing with about how they found their career and what interests them. This will further help you as you work toward your long-term career.

By Carissa Joy Burns

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