5 Tips for Figuring Out Your 5-Year Career Plan

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? This is a question bosses and interviewers and strangers at networking events have been asking for decades. But, if you don’t quite have an answer, use these 5 tips to help figure out what your 5 year career plan is so you can share it with your boss, potential employers, your professional network, or whoever else asks.

1. Evaluate What You Value: To understand where you want to go you need to know what you value. This will help you determine a general direction, a path to stay on, and help you eliminate possibilities that don’t line up with your values.

2. Be Honest About Strengths and Weaknesses: If you want to have a solid, realistic 5-year career plan then you need to be honest about what your strengths and weaknesses are. This step will help you narrow your focus and steer you towards creating a plan that emphasizes your strengths and potentially strengthens your weaknesses, if necessary.

3. Focus on Learning: No one should ever be done learning. If you want to, you can focus your answer to “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” on what skills you’d like to gain, what you’d like to learn, and how you’d like to better yourself along the way, rather than a specific job or field that you want to move into. This will show that you have actionable goals and plan to improve but that you’re flexible on the specifics of where you end up in 5 years.

4. Figure Out How You Want to Spend Your Time: 5 years is a long time but it will go by in a flash. How do you want to spend your time? What are you willing to do to make your goals happen? If you want your 5-year plan to be realistic and actionable, it’s important that you first figure out how you want to spend your time.

5. Reframe the Question: If you’re still struggling to answer, try looking at it from another perspective. Five years is a long time, so you can focus your answer on what you want to accomplish rather than a specific career path. This is especially helpful when you work in the fast-changing world of IT. When you know what you want to accomplish, figure out what it will take to reach those goals. That is your 5-year career plan.

Once you know the answer to, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, you can get started on actionable goals that will help you accomplish and achieve whatever you’re planning. Additionally, you’ll have an answer for employers, interviewers, people in your professional network, and whoever else asks you this common career question.