Worst Question Ever: Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

I’m not really sure why they ask this question during interviews.

The truth is, no one knows where they’ll be in 5 years.  There are just too many variables that you as an individual cannot account for: the economy, tech innovation, the lives of your friends and family, and all of the other random twists and turns that life throws at us.

Five years ago (9/15/2004):

  • I was in the  final semester of my senior year of college.
  • I had just accepted my engineering job, which I started in January.
  • I hadn’t even heard of a blog.
  • SportsLizard was exactly 2 months old.
  • Revenue was $74 total for those two months (I looked it up).
  • Running a business full time was a pipe dream.

Go back another year and I wouldn’t even know how to get up a simple website with some text and a link.  Nor would I have ever heard of PHP, or have the first clue about anything e-commerce related.  I would have laughed at the idea of me owning a company.

How awesome is that?  I don’t want to try to control the uncontrollable.  It causes unnecessary stress. It causes you to miss opportunities.  I hope I know as little about 9/15/2014 as I knew about 9/15/2009 back on 9/15/2004.

13 comments on Worst Question Ever: Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

  1. Tim says:

    It’s funny when you look at this backwards and see where you were 5 years ago and think about how you would have answered – really puts things in a different perspective.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      For me, it has a real positive affect. It calms me down. Thinking about the future is stressful, but once you realize that trying to plan it is largely pointless, you can just focus on the here and now. You end up spending more time just “doing” and less time worrying.

  2. Adam McFarland says:

    Some additional comments over on the Brazen Careerist

  3. Rob says:

    Living presently is one of the hardest thing to do.

    I was reading a review in a paper of a tv show that said the characters have “cosmic party syndrome” – always thinking something else amazing is going on somewhere else and wishing they were there. I totally have that and constantly self doubt. What if I should have been born a different race/a girl/into a family business/what if i’d taken an arts course at college/made different choices/what if… (even though I’m actually happy with my life).
    It’s as pointless worrying about this as it is worrying about your own future so far ahead. Live for the present, have a little forward planning but don’t dwell on it. Do what feels right NOW and stop worrying about the what ifs.

    Kudos to Nike, they had it right all those years ago with their slogan.

  4. Dale Ting says:

    Adam, forget 5 years, how about 1 year? A lot can happen in one year… it’s fun to do this exercise thinking one year ago today what were you doing, and what’s happened in that one year. It’s amazing how much you’ve learned and changed in just 1 year!

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Very true Dale. In a lot of ways, it’s harder to not try to “control” the next year because things seem so close. I probably have a harder time with that then I do the long long term stuff (which I realize is totally fruitless to worry about). I definitely find myself saying “by December I want to do this, and by next May I want to do this, and by next September I’ll definitely be doing this”. Of course, it never works out that way (not better, not worse, just not the way I envision it). It’s easier said than done, but you can only think about that stuff so much. Like Rob said, you have to have some direction and forward planning, but beyond that it becomes frustrating/stressful to try to plan.

  5. Rob says:

    Adam: I didn’t actually say those words, we both just knew it.

    Now THAT’S a sign of a strong slogan.

  6. Travis says:

    I know a (brash) gal that was once asked that question during an interview – being interviewed by the hiring manager. Her reply, “Sitting in that chair with your job”. He actually hired her…

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