Imagine answering this question as your 5 year-old, 10 year-old, and 15 year-old self. The answer may not have been the same, but I bet the certainty about whatever you wanted to become, dwindled over time. And what DID we want to be? A writer, an animal shelter owner, maybe a coffee shop barista. For me, it certainly wasn't corporate marketing in the tech sector or even a lifestyle blogger.
But somewhere along the last 30 years, I gained more skills, learned more about myself, found out the possibilities of professions that exist out there. My options became plenty, but the certainty shrank in what I want to become when I grow up.
The one scenario in which we have to seriously consider this question, as adults, is often during an interview. When a potential job offer is at stake, this question becomes that much more delicate and difficult to tackle. So I've come up with a list of questions to help you shape your thinking and get closer to the answer. Answer to yourself honestly, and based on those answer, you can craft an interview appropriate response.
How do you answer "where do you see yourself in 5/10/15 years", which is basically "what do you want to be when you grow up?" in the adult world.
I would segment your thinking into two areas: professional, and personal.
In your personal life, in 5/10/15 years:
What motivates you to get out of bed every morning?
How high does work rank in your overall life in terms of priority?
Who do you spend the most time with outside of work?
What do you do for fun?
Do you see yourself getting married and/or starting a family?
Do you live in the city, suburbs, the mountains, or a coastal city?
In your professional life, in 5/10/15 years:
Why do you have a job, is it just for financial support os is it a fulfilling cause?
Are you managing people, being responsible for their development?
What kind of hours do you work, 9-5 or freelance?
Are you a single contributor or do you work in a team?
Do you have entrepreneurial aspirations?
Do you work in a global setting or more regionally focused?
What does financial success mean to you?
This is how I crafted my plan based on the approach above:
Having ownership over creative and challenging work is what motivates me every morning, the first thing I think of when I wake up. Work is a priority because it's a source of (really good) income but also something that keeps me on my toes and hungry for intellectual growth. I hang out with friends that I share common interests within my free time, and spend just as much time with close family. I snowboard in the winter, surf in the summer, go on hikes, enjoy yoga, and rock climbing. I love being outdoors. I live in the suburb with my husband, possibly some kids, and not too far from my parents.
Work-wise, I work alongside a bunch of driven, inspiring, and kind people. I lead projects as well as people. I take ownership of my job and I trive to make an impact in everything I do. I find the idea of starting my own business interesting, but I think after my kids are older is probably the better time to take more serious actions toward the idea. I also work in a global setting in my work, dealing with people from different continents, and constantly applying my fluency in Mandarin Chinese. I think of financial success as having a good control over my daily budget and expense, and earning good enough an income where I can save, and occasionally indulge in nice vacations or occasionally more materialistic things.
With these two paragraphs as the basis, I now feel much more confident answering the question "where do you see yourself in 5/10/15 years" now. What do your two paragraphs look like?