Why I hate the five-year question

Hello!!! I know—I’ve been super quiet this week. BUT, I have a very, very good excuse.

I got a new job!  I got a job I really, really wanted and one I never thought I’d get.

The interview process was brutal. Not college fraternity-pledge-hazing brutal, but just nerve-wracking, do-they-like-me-or-not, will-they-hire-me-or-not, brutal. My job search became the newest reality TV series for my friends—each week, they tuned-in to see what would happen next.

I wanted this job so bad I was almost afraid to talk about it, for fear my relentless bad luck would jeopardize my chances. Finally, in the week of my final interview, my friend Mike sent me another job description and encouraged me to apply. On paper, it was a perfect match—but I never sent in my resume. When Mike asked me why, all I could say was, “I put all my eggs in this basket.”

“Well, you better pray they hatch,” he said back.

I’ve always hated the five year plan.

I always thought, “Where do you want to be in five years?” was a stupid question. How the hell should I know? In the past five years, I lived in four different states and had lord-knows how many roommates—all of which I met on Craiglist.

When I applied for this particular job (and realized I might actually have a shot at it) it hit me why I loathed the five-year question oh-so-much.

For the past five years, there was no plan. 

In the past five years, I feel as though things happened to me, instead of me making things happen. There’s a big, fat difference between the two. Each new job I received I thought, “That sounds cool, I’ll do that,” and went about my duties.

When I graduated college, I would have taken any job, in any industry, in any city within planet Earth. I mean come on, my first position was selling investment consulting services after I essentially outsourced Finance 101 in college. Clearly, it was not the best fit.

I’m really grateful for that job. It wasn’t my inner calling and I wasn’t pursuing my passion, but I had the best boss in the world. He was a mentor who taught me to understand people and understand myself [That boss was one of my references for the job I just took.]

Actually, scratch the above paragraph. I’m thankful for every job I’ve ever had, because it helped me realize what I do (and do not) want out of this life. I met people I want to be more like, and people I pray I never, ever become. Each job taught me how I want to be treated and how I want to treat others. Each experience, even the bad ones, guided me where I wanted to be. I’ll argue the bad experiences guided me more than the good ones, because it showed me the roads I do not want to travel on. And I thank God every day that those roads have closed.

Even the most perfectly thought-out plan will have detours. Learn to be thankful for those detours.

There’s only two things in life I ever really, really wanted: To run Division I track, and live on the East coast. I got both of them. When I achieved those two goals—the biggest goals I ever set for myself—I forgot to set new ones. Or so I thought.

After I gave my final interview and waited to hear the verdict, my mom told me something I said five years ago. It was about a goal I set, then completely forgot about:

“Kara, when you graduated college you said you wanted to work for a marketing agency. So hopefully, you’ll get what you always wanted.”

For all the bouncing around I’ve done the past five years, I gathered experience and knowledge from each job I took. This company hired me for the very skills I acquired through those other positions. If things hadn’t played out the way they did, there’s a good chance I would not have been qualified for this role.

I still don’t know the answer to the five-year question. I have no idea where I want to be in five years, but I DO know what I want within those years. I want to stop being frustrated for where I’m at (or rather, where I’m not), and be grateful for the things I’m learning, the people I’m meeting, and all the things I’ve accomplished thus far. Five years from now, I’m sure I’ll look back and be thankful for the detours I took and the roadblocks I hit.

Detours are frustrating. They take longer, they’re unpredictable, and they make you want to bang your head against the window. But while they’re not the fastest route available, they still get you to your final destination.

Here’s to the next five years.

2 Comments
  1. This resonates with me 100%… all the way through, and was a good reminder to stop and appreciate all the odd stops that make up the journey to the goal. I’m also happy you got the job you wanted and achieved that goal as well congratulations! 🙂

    1. KC! Girl, I feel you. Sometimes I get so frustrated over hitting a roadblock, but when I look back on it I wouldn’t have things any other way.

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