Where do you see yourself in five years? This is probably one of the most common and the hardest job interview questions I have encountered ever. Even highly trained Miss Universe candidates will have a hard time answering this. How could I as a young graduate know how I intend to live my life? I earned a degree NOT an Uber ride to my future! For me, you can’t absolutely know that you’re meant for something (or someone for hopeless romantics) until you make that small step forward, and take the risk and jump!
Earlier this year, I celebrated my fifth year in the “real world.” I have been employed in the same company for FIVE years. Wow! Time flies. The journey has been a hell of a ride. I honestly do not wish to live it all over again. I’m grateful though for having dealt with the highs and the lows of the first chapter of my working life.
How did I answer the question five years ago?
In five years, I see myself climbing up the corporate ladder, being an expert in what I do.
Vague, right? Did I achieve my “vision”? Bluntly, no, I have not been promoted and no, I’m still learning. And you know what, it’s okay. I’ll tell you why.
Here are my top five lessons from the last five years of working.
Lesson #1: Don’t Lose Your Muchness.
I could still remember my first day. I was in my graduation long-sleeves with its matching silver tie. I had my bag (from college). Inside was a copy of Nicholas Sparks’ A Walk to Remember (in case I get stuck in traffic) and two packs of crackers (in case I get hungry). Yes, I was like coming out straight from a Sky Flakes commercial. I also brought an umbrella even though there was no sign of rain. I was ready. I was ready to change the world!
At least that’s how I felt. Somewhere along the way, I lost my muchness. If you’re not familiar, the word is from Alice in Wonderland. Like Alice and other fresh grads, I was innocent and curious but after entering the rabbit hole, my once bright soul lost its light. I became negative and cynical. I began doubting everything, even my own choices and capability. Little by little, I forgot who I was and how I started.
Now that I’m one of the older employees in terms of tenure, fresh grads, for me, have this certain glow in their aura especially the first time you meet and work with them. That glow is what I’m trying to gain back. That aura that screams “I believe in the goodness of people!” and “There is no office politics!” and “I love Mondays because I get to work again!” Well, I’m getting there!
How do you not lose your muchness? Know what your purpose is, why you do what you do, and hold on to that. Maintain your idealism but don’t get too disappointed when things don’t go as you’ve hoped. Choose to be happy even though it’s almost impossible! You’ll get used to it. Do not stress yourself with the “uncontrollables.” Dust yourself off, believe and keep moving. Smile! Smiling helps, trust me!
Lesson #2: Don’t Work to Get Promoted. Get Promoted Because You Work!
Almost everyone wants to be promoted and everyone probably deserves to get promoted. The problem is for obvious reasons. Just like in a One Direction concert, not everybody can sit in the VIP section.
Do not be like me who cried a river of tears because I didn’t get promoted (I have my reasons though). Just work hard, focus on what needs to be done and, eventually, you’ll get noticed. Do not take it personally. Management has to make a choice and it just so happens that it’s not you. Promotions are overrated anyway.
Repeat after me. “I don’t need validation.” Repeat it! I don’t hear you! Well, just not in front of your boss.
Besides, maybe getting promoted is not your thaaang… Maybe, you’re meant for something better. Benjamin Button once said, “Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.” #NoRegrets
Lesson #3: It’s Not All About The Money
Sometimes, it’s not all about the money. There are other bigger factors. Sometimes, it’s about the people you work with. The work environment. The camaraderie and trust built within the walls of your small cubicles. If you’re not friends (or not in good terms) with your officemates, I say, try being friends with them. Otherwise, resign. You can only waste so much of your life. Work with people who you love and you will never have to work at all!
As cheesy as it may sound, the main reason why I was able to stay in my company for five years is the people. The value of being friends with your colleagues is immeasurable. I can’t count how many times my officemates have helped me overcome work and personal problems. Love ya’ll! Now, that deserves a #Blessed.
Lesson #4: Always Say Yes, But with Reservations (Thanks Alma!)
After spending so much time, letting opportunities past me by for fear of failing, in 2013 I decided to simply say “yes!” to everything and everyone. When people ask for help, I come right away. When volunteers are needed, I’m the first one to raise a hand. I said this before and I say this again: when you open yourself to the world, it will open back to you. By saying yes to most, if not all, opportunities, I was able to discover a different side of me. Someone who is capable of a lot of things. Someone who is confidently beautiful with a heart. Saying yes can open and boost you to the world, the universe rather. Okay. No more Miss Universe references.
So what if your course is not related to the job? So what if you’re not “creative” and you don’t know a thing about Photoshop? Do not be afraid to take the plunge. Believe. Declare you’re good at something and be good at it later! I’m not saying you lie. Work hard for it. However, there will also be times when you have to say “no”. Saying no is as important as saying yes. You have to know your limits. Know when to decline and when to walk away. You don’t want to be a martyr. Okay?
Lesson #5: Change Hurts And You Can’t Do Anything About It
Work has a way of hurting you. You let your guard down, become comfortable with your job, and get attached to your officemates (and even your boss!). But in a snap, it can all be taken away from you. In my five years, I’ve experienced a couple of organizational changes that really rocked the boat. I witnessed how one by one each of my close friends/officemates go, move on and some, forget. At first you’ll feel a pain in your tummy as if you’re about to barf. Then you’ll feel your face becoming warmer and warmer. Your eyes and ears become hot as well. After an hour or two, when everything has sunk in, tears will start to flow and all the memories will flashback as if it’s the end of the world. But it’s not. It just feels like it.
Change is part of the job and you can’t do anything. The more you resist, the more you won’t get over it. If I may suggest, pray The Serenity Prayer even (if you’re non-Catholic). Don’t put too much meaning about it. If you really can’t get used to the change, it may be time for you to try other options. Change is also an opportunity! Make the most out of it.
Bonus: Everything’s Gonna Be OK
Whatever you’re experiencing now. The doubts. The hardships. The stress. The exhaustion. Everything is going to be okay. Just keep moving. Work is just work. It doesn’t necessarily define you unless you let it. Okay? Okay.
Worse comes to worst, there’s always the (freakin’) weekend.
Photo Credits: Featured Photo- GJ Esguerra
How about you? If you’re a fresh grad, where do you see yourself in five years? If you’re like me, have you achieved your goals five years ago? Share your thoughts and life lessons in the comment section below.