“My own private island, full ownership of the Tunnocks Teacake factory, -16% body fat, $18m in the bank, a swimming pool filled with cocaine and a fleet of Lambo’s…”
“Oh, yeah, I’d like to finally learn how to open a pistachio nut.”
Where do you want to be in five years?
It’s a classic interview question, asked to help employers figure out what kind of aspirations and ambitions you have.
Technically, there’s no “wrong” answer to this question, though:
“standing over your sliced up carcass, holding a machete, dripping with blood…”
…comes pretty close.
(that reminds me, I never did hear back from the care home…)
Goal setters ask the “5-year” question a lot too.
Even if they’re the kind of person that needs 3 weeks of meditation and a quick consult with the iChing to decide what to have for lunch…
…they still imagine where they will be in 1,825 days.
Should you pick a goal 5 years into the future?
Sure. Why not? If that sits well with you and gives you a solid path to follow, then go for it.
If your “5-year planning” face is the same as your “I’ve just imagined my parents having sex” face however, you need another approach.
The good news is there is one, and if you’re a fan of terrible horror movies, you already know what it is…
Look behind you.
It turns out that there are two ways to get better:
1. Picture a brighter future and do what you need to do to make it happen.
2. Look at who you were yesterday, and try to be a little bit better.
Goal setters with 10-year planners (colour-coded, obvs) will tell you that option 1 is the only way – you need a future target to head towards.
They may even use metaphors involving planes, boats and GPS.
What they don’t realise is that even though option two SEEMS like you’re setting sail without a map…
or Nintendo Switch (I can’t remember the exact analogy)
You can’t ask yourself, “How do I want to get better today?” without thinking about the kind of person you want to become.
You can’t ask yourself, “How can I improve my business today?” without imagining what a better business looks like.
You can’t ask, “How can I be better today?” without imagining a better future.
So, if you’re the kind of person that hates goal setting – the kind that despises looking into the demotivating chasm between where you are and where you want to be, try looking back instead.
It’s still future planning, but sneaky future planning.
It’s a way of getting better – without the terrifying 5-year, step-by-step, “have to follow or we’re all gonna die!” style road map.