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Probably the most common interview question–where do you see yourself in 5 years–is something that all hiring managers want to know. Plus your teachers, parents or friends might also have popped this question. But are you really prepared to answer it? How seriously or casually do you take it? Or are you simply tired of answering it?

No matter what the case, you can’t elude the topic for too long; you need to be prepared and have a game plan. We understand that life doesn’t always go as planned but that should not stop you from being in charge of your progress. As Nilay Mahanty, a young professional running a digital marketing firm puts it, “You do set goals in life, but they may or may not get fulfilled. Set small, achievable milestones over a regular interval to achieve the desired goals after 5 years.” (Also read: Life After College – 4 Unconventional Options)

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Life never stops giving you opportunities. So even if you have planned less or haven’t planned at all, it’s never too late to start.

Five-year planning

What are you going to achieve in the next five years? You tend to ask yourself and look for satisfying answers from your conscience. Don’t fret if it gives you nightmarish foresight. The best of decisions take time to build, and if you are finding it difficult to plan your life for the next 5 years, read these tips.

– Find a quiet corner and introspect: what is that thing you like to do? This could be a hobby too, and thanks to the liberalised thinking of the society, a lot of millennials are now turning their hobby into professions. As the saying goes, ‘if you love your work, you will never work a day in your life!’

– Write down your goals. Divide them weekly, monthly and yearly. Put this paper up in your room where you can see it every day. Start ticking and you will know instantly how far you’ve gone and what goals you’ve missed. (You may consult your parents or those who know you well to decide what goals/targets will be good for you).

– Be up-to-date: of your surroundings and yourself. It’s important to know what’s going on in the industry you choose to enter so download useful news apps, follow your industry influencers and stay updated.

Strategise with your tasks, review them, implement them, again review them and make a strategy again. Confused? Life is not always about achieving goals. You may get through and start with a certain career in mind, but your interest might take you in a different direction (and a successful one). So keep revisiting and revising your goals, as necessary.

– Treat each stage of life as a learning lesson. There are no regrets–only lessons learned! Mark your drawbacks and start afresh, never hook on to the past.

– Be confident about what you want to do. Share it with family and friends proudly. Don’t feel discouraged if someone raises a finger towards your future plans. Believe in yourself and keep working hard.

One day at a time

Life will give you a thousand reasons to get tired and give up. Don’t worry if you are feeling lost, it’s okay to be clueless sometimes. When you wake up to reality, act there and then. It’s never too late ever! Remember, situations are not always ‘ideal’ for everyone wherein you study, get a dream job and then get settled so if you have chosen a different path, it’s perfectly fine! Just make sure you are growing at each point; then it doesn’t matter where you will be after 5 years or even a decade.

If after all the planning you are still unsure about what you will do in the near future, be open to surprises and let life unfold for you. And if someone asks ‘where will you be 5 years from now?’, just tell them you are a discoverer and don’t know what will meet your eyes next.

Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar

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