HR asks “3-5 years from now…”

Recently, I read an email from a woman currently working in sales for a company. She had been asked to describe her 3-5 year career goals as part of the performance review process. Her truth is that she wants to be successful enough in three years not to be working for anyone else ever again. She wants to work for herself. She closes the email by asking for advice on what she thinks her manager wants to hear because “I’m sure not going to tell the truth.”

She asked for my advice. Here it is…

Lying will hurt you. I have walked in your shoes, and you will not like who you see in the mirror each morning if you start lying. You mention that you want to work for yourself. Guess what! You already are working for yourself, but it’s disguised in a paycheck from a company. You are responsible for what you do each day to earn money. You can earn money by selling someone else’s widgets. You can earn money by selling your own widgets. In between those two statements, you will find a transitional place where you can earn money by selling someone else’s widgets and selling your own widgets.

You CAN express where you want to be in 3-5 years without lying to your employer. Instead of focusing on a title, describe the type of responsibilities you want to have in 3-5 years. If you have a clear vision of being in business, describe what you see yourself doing. In today’s work world, it’s difficult to fathom your manager actually expects you to be there in 3-5 years. However, a company wants the best from its employees and likes to use goals as a way to guide performance. Handling more responsibilities at your current employer is a GREAT way to get experience you can use in your business later.

If you don’t have an exit strategy in place, odds are you’re going to be there (or a similar company) three years from now anyway. Yes, I realize that can be painful to hear. However, it’s true. If you don’t focus your attention on what you will do outside of your current work hours to create YOUR business, it’s very unlikely you will have the energy or stamina to pursue your dreams.

In 3-5 years I intend to do more speaking, writing, and traveling in addition to my consulting. What will you be doing?

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