What is your goal in life? Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
These seemingly HR interview questions, are quite important if we want to get anywhere in life, apparently.
Most of my life I have been a planner. Once I knew what I wanted, I used to focus all my energy towards it. Being headstrong and adamant helped, to a certain extent. But life has been unpredictable.
For instance, I went to law school in order to become a criminal litigation lawyer. But soon upon graduation, the hard reality sinked in that I am not cut out for the job at hand. I had a ten year plan going into law school. But once that plan did not work out, I was out of ideas.
What do I do next? What should be my next goal? Where do I see myself for the next five years? Do I want to go into a law firm or work with a company? What training do I need, in order to pursue my next goal?
All these questions haunted me for a long time. When I quit my first job, I was a rookie who had given a year of her time to the job, only to realise that she does not see herself doing that for the foreseeable future.
I know of many people who are doing their jobs just because it pays the bills. There are those who are working for the causes they truly believe in. But more often than not, one’s job is simply for paying the bills. It is tempting to go after the money. It is crucial after all. But can you really excel at something that you do not have passion for, but do only for the money?
I should know, I mostly picked up jobs as they paid the bills. But where does one’s ambitions go, if all you are after is a good paycheck? Do you compromise on the aspirations and goals? Do you modify them to suit the present scenario? Do you let go of the aspirations completely?
When I quit my last job, I had already been working there for close to four years. I could do the work with my eyes closed. The designation sounded good, it was a large company and the job was safe. I was coordinating with different internal teams and external lawyers alike for different assignments and was running point on several projects. I was simultaneously working on self improvement and on my long lost hobby of writing.
But then one day, I took stock of my situation. I have been working for five years at that point since graduating. I remembered the HR asking me, a long time ago, where do I see myself in the next five years. I was not where I wanted to be. I had not had a promotion in over a year and half. My role had not expanded as I’d hoped. So I went around asking what I needed to do in order to get where I expected myself to be.
Some said I needed to acquire more skill set like contract drafting and negotiation. Some said I needed to know how to network better. Others suggested, I should probably change industries and get onto something with more growth opportunities and headroom for disruption. Perhaps an industry that is slated to grow dramatically over the next decade? Confused with so many suggestions, luckily, I got an opportunity to learn marketing, and I took it.
Looking back, if someone had said I’d be doing marketing even a year ago, I would dismiss the notion with utter disbelief. That is the beauty of taking risks. You not only get to learn more about something new, you also learn to test your limits.
I met a bunch of people in the past few months, who were more or less doing the same thing as I was – trying to find out their project for the next five years or so.
There was one young woman, who has been trying hard to get a suitable job. She had tried her hand at multiple jobs in less than three years and had excelled in all of them. But you know when you know that you don’t belong somewhere and it is just not the right fit? She had that feeling for a longest time. She worked at a mediation startup, then went on to work at a supreme court AoR firm, and then again a legal startup. She tried to do her best in every role she had. Last I heard she was about to join a big law firm. She seems to have finally found her true calling there. Or maybe not. Only time can tell. However, she is definitely searching for it! She is definitely like to find the right fit more than many others I know.
Then there was a man I’d met, in his early 50’s. He had served in the Indian Navy and then gone to work in US for almost a decade or more. He had come back to India in search of his next project, which will make sense for the next five years or more. He was an eternal learner. He learned to play a variety of musical instruments, learnt about cyber law and cryptocurrencies and more in the few months that I’d known him. Last I heard, he was appointed the Chief Innovation Officer of a US startup working with cryptocurrency. He had found his next project!
People who take risks, learn new skills, force themselves to face challenges that they do not know how to scale but learn on the fly – they grow. And wonderful things happen to them.
The point I am trying to make here is simple. We all go through our lives trying to make a living. Sometimes we are able to pursue our dreams, sometimes, we are not. Life is too short for living with disappointments and regrets. The goals and dreams may change with time and circumstances. But we must take a pause every now and then, to stop and see where we are going. And try new things. Shake up stuff. Add new ingredients in the mix. Do the unpredictable.
Are you doing what you want to do? Did you once dream about working with the big law firm? Did you fail at realising that dream? Where do you see yourself in the next five years? Are you on the right path towards said goal? Are you doing the things that will ensure you reach your goals? Are you having fun doing what you are doing? Does your job excite you? Do you look forward to taking on the challenges at work?
If the answer to any of the above questions was a maybe or a no, then you need to stop and take a hard look at yourself and your goals. You need to find where you want to be and how to get there. You might need to improve your skill set
For instance, I want to learn how to draft different kinds of contracts like commercial contracts, technology contracts, IP contracts and more. So I will need to hone my skill in this area before landing my dream job. I have taken up a contract drafting course for a thorough learning of the subject matter. To get more exposure in the industry and display my expertise, I might write well researched articles.
If you are interested in working for a law firm dealing with merger and acquisitions, in the next five years, you need to get into the industry. For getting into the industry, you need to know all there is about merger and acquisition, investment deals, due diligence, deal compliances, institutional finance and more. You may need to do a practical online course on the mergers and acquisitions, write articles, network in the industry in order to break into it.
The idea is not to just keep doing aimless things which do not contribute to your skills or career or the future you seek. You do not want to resent the job at hand because that affects your mindset and performance. Don’t waste your future or life. You only get one.
There is a famous saying which goes on something like this- If you don’t like where you are, then move. You are not a tree.
Take a pause from whatever you are doing studies or your job, and take a hard look at your career. Are you where you wanted to be five years ago? Are you gradually moving towards where you want to be in the next five years? Are you on the correct path?
If not, then stop. Change courses. Take a reverse turn. Go where you want to go. Don’t second guess yourself. There is no reason why you won’t achieve your goals if you put hard work and effort towards it.
If you feel like you are stuck in your legal career and have no way of changing course, think again. It is never too late to improve and change the trajectory of your career. You could do online courses to pursue a career in your chosen field of law.
We at LawSikho understand that your career goals cannot be met with the traditional legal education system. It lacks the practical training that we dearly need on the job. So unless you have interned well from the beginning and mapped out your entire career before joining law school, and got things right throughout, there is a slim chance that you will land your dream job. Even if you did everything right, why not prepare yourself for the job so you land on your feet, learning the exact tasks you have to do when you get that job?
Therefore, to that end we have designed online law courses in the subjects which are practically necessary for the industry, like cyber laws, business laws, media laws, mergers and acquisitions, companies laws, labour laws, real estate, criminal law, and more!
You can learn more about it here.
These courses are not only theoretical, but have practical applications which you learn to put to use through intensive exercises and assignments. You get regular feedback and guidance while pursuing the course. You get job and internship assistance too.
So do not wait to see where life takes you. Check for yourself, if you are going in the right direction or not. If you are not, then no need to lament. Just take the right step and change the course of your career!