Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Stop what you're doing and take a minute to think about it. Make a coffee if you will. Watch the kettle take too long to boil and your head too long to arrive at an acceptable conclusion.
But seriously, do you remember that question? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Of course you do. You've been asked it your whole life. You're probably 52 and still being asked it.
And there's no escaping it either, we've all been there; all been that budding intern who sat across from that haggard, old and wrinkly finance manager in the dingy office; trying to look positive but instead hiding a clenched jaw and dripping 50 shades of sweat; dreading that question's inevitable arrival. And then its dropped. Just like that, right at the end of the interview, or, if you're incredibly unlucky years later, as a girlfriend of mine once was - at the beginning of a first date, (in which case the 50 shades of sweated dread was the only kind he saw).
I'm 31, and I'm asked it. The audience doing the asking has changed somewhat, as has its delivery, - but its asked.
The change is there alright. It goes from your 16 year old self being asked, one worthy of sprightly optimism; where your quirks are listed and revered for immediate praise with phrases like "You'll be a unique and special addition to any team or endeavour you wish to pursue", to that same person some 5 years later saying to your 21 year old self, "A steady upward path combined with a hard work ethic (usually disguised as longer hours) will likely return the wanted results in another 5+ years. Of course your 21 year old self is now in London and knee deep in college life and nightly raves; not for the life of you remembering what your 16 year old self wanted. Nor caring. And I'm going to go out on a limb here with my 31 year old self and say - who bloody cares. Who cares what you wanted at 16, or at 21. It evolves, it changes - the goalposts get dug out from under you (sometimes while you watch) - and it's okay. The show goes on. You'll be somewhere. Somewhere okay. Or in my case, somewhere better.
Make peace with the plans changing.
But the patronising questions can surely end. When you're older and that +5 years is subtly in place of the once more precise and flat '5'.
It's like they no longer believe in the five year timeline for you. You might need a couple more, or a half more. Maybe ask me where I see myself in 5.5 years and I'll bat an answer straight outta the park. Sometimes all a girl needs is a good half.
So, that leaves me to the appropriately aged question. where do I see myself in 5.5 years?
I might of once responded something about lying around in a banana hammock on a tropical island - but considering it's probably a low lying island that's dotted amongst the Pacific, that pesky climate change thingy might just bump that 5+ plan right outta the water for me. So I need to find a new 5+ plan. Again.
Which leaves me with this: I'd like to be sitting right where I am now. With a half full flute of champagne (yes I'm the eternal optimist), a scented candle, a vase of roses - and an open iPhone so I can lazily write this with minimal movement and maximum outside entertainment.
None of these things were in my 5 year plan at 16 but from my 'almost 'double 16 age, and from where I'm watching I'll tell you this: if champagne, emojis, and flowers aren't ambitious enough for your plan then drop your plan immediately - you're doing it wrong.