Guess what, overachievers? Not everyone wants to fight you for the corner office.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s arguably one of the most annoying questions asked in a job interview, and for those who barely have a clue what they’ll be doing next week, let alone years down the track, it’s enough to incite a mild panic attack. But not everyone is desperate to climb the career ladder, or even do much more than earn a living that lets them put food in their mouths and pretty dresses on their backs – and according to career development expert Jim Bright, that’s totally fine. “I’m a big believer in trying things out while constantly looking for opportunities. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go hurtling up a ladder because becoming the CEO of a company is the most important thing in the world – there are lots of other things in life that are valuable.”
With the amount of uber-talented people in the world, you would be forgiven for expecting every single one of them to be at the top of their chosen field. The reality is, not everyone can be – or wants to be – the next Lena Dunham, Oprah Winfrey or Marissa Mayer. “Career development doesn’t have to be upwards, it can be outwards,” says Jim. “It can be about increasing your knowledge or developing skills, and just because you don’t want to be The Next Big Thing doesn’t mean you can’t be satisfied and fulfilled by what you’re doing. Sometimes, pushing “up” all the time actually takes you away from what you love. It’s also important not to confuse a lack of ambition with laziness or mediocrity.”
So when you start feeling anxious about your non-existent five-year plan, remember that you’re not a slacker for wanting different things out of life. Instead, have a think about your core values. They might be things like kindness, showing pride in your work or enjoying your life on the weekends. Who you are as a person is different to what you do from nine to five, and it’s the former that matters most. “You can’t say that getting to the top is the recipe for life happiness,” says Jim. “If you have a sense of your place in the world, what you want and what you want to contribute, it will give you a feeling of balance and control over where you are going.”
“Not everyone wants to be the next Lena Dunham."