If You Can't Commit Five Years To A Career, It's Not Your Path

One of the most difficult questions to answer during a job interview is, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" It's a loaded question in interviews, but blogger Steve Pavlina suggests that if you can't answer that question for any career path you're considering, then it's probably not the right one to pursue.

Photo remixed from Michael Ruiz.

Pavlina's idea here is that if you're unsure where you want your career to go, you have to ask yourself if you can make a serious commitment to it for five years. Pavlina's rule of thumb is very simple:

If you can't make a serious 5-year commitment to a given career path, it's not your path.

If you're struggling to figure out what you want to do, or which of your skills you really want to concentrate on, Pavlina suggests you ask if you can see yourself doing it in five years. If the answer is yes, then that's the career path you should pursue. It's a handy barometer for both recent college graduates and anyone thinking about changing careers.

Is It Time for You to Stop Dabbling and Get Serious? [Steve Pavlina via 99U Twitter]


    The hard number of 5 is very subjective, and I feel quite a useless number at that when dealing with 'years in the industry'.

    For example, say I have 6 months of experience and I go for an interview - I'm still finding my feet in the industry, I have no idea if I'm going to still enjoy this in 5 years.

    On the other side, say I have 10 years experience, but not in industry (hobby, etc), then I can condifently say "I will be a team lead in 5 years", but come 1 year in the industry it might turn out that doing your hobby as a job sucks all the fun out of it (as happened to myself).

    I just hit them with a generic answer that hits the right buttons for that position / company. I'll deal with what I actually think of myself / my career later when I have more experience.

    Last edited 19/12/12 12:40 pm

    I agree, if by 5 you mean 2.

      Yeah, I agree 5 years is too long, I work on 2 years too.

      I work in IT and if I can tell you what I'm doing in 5 years time just means I don't really have much imagination & ambition.

    Jobs do not last 5 years these days. Too many companies turning over staff every 1 to 2 years to keep themselves fresh. I get that, great strategy. But now everyone is doing it. Thanks guys

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