Find Me in Five Years
Answers not so simple when opting out
By: Shayna Englin
It’s the quintessential interview question: Where do you see yourself in five years? I have no clue, and that’s exciting and scary.
A year and a half after jumping off the career ladder to start my own business, my bills are paid; my life is approaching something resembling balance; and my work is incredibly satisfying. I only hyperventilate once a week about whether the clients will keep on rolling in (they do, knock on wood), and the last time I kept myself up pondering the benefits of hiring employees versus depending on subcontractors was a good month ago.
Even more astonishing (to me, anyway), I can’t remember the last time I wondered if I was good enough or smart enough or brave enough to make this work. Clearly, I am.
But still: is this where I’ll be in five years? Will I have answered that employees vs. subcontractors question differently by then (I decided on subcontractors)? Will I have partners? Or maybe I’ll have been lured back into a “real” job and have put my practice on hold.
Opting out has yielded huge advantages. My success is directly linked to my talents, my work and my ambition. I get to choose who I want to work with and what kind of work I want to do. I set my schedule so a successful work life doesn’t mean abandoning my marriage and my child. And my dry-cleaning bills are tiny—I only wear a suit once or twice a week. I’ll gladly take the more-frequent loads of laundry for clean jeans in exchange.
But… when I opted out of the traditional career I also leapt off the discernible long-term path. Where will I be in five years? I can only answer with generalities: I’ll be happily doing lucrative work I enjoy, with people I respect, while being there to parent my son. Oh, and wearing out my jeans faster than my power suits.
And that’s just going to have to do. Luckily, there’s at least one more advantage of opting out: I don’t ever have to answer the quintessential interview questions.