Hari Patience-Davies shares a storytelling game that helps with career planning.

Oh well, in five years time we could be walking round a zoo
With the sun shining down over me and you
And there’ll be love in the bodies of the elephants too
And I’ll put my hand over your eyes but you’ll peek through

Noah and the Whale

As an amateur ukulele player I’m a big fan of songs with only three chords, and Five Years Time by Noah and the Whale is one of my favourite practice songs for mastering chords, strumming patterns and singing at the same time (currently I can only do two out of three).

However Five Years’ Time is also the name of an imaginative game I play with my husband which has helped me make decisions about the way my career is going and what my long term goals are. And anyone can play it.

This works best in a small group of two or three – maybe you and your partner, or you and your best friends. The idea is that each person imagines what they will be doing in five years time – where they will be living, what’s the job, do they have kids, a dog or cat? Basically how are you filling your time?

But every time you imagine it, it must be different.

So one answer might be:

I’ve just been promoted at work but what I’m really excited about is that I’m getting married in the Summer. We’re going to host the entire thing in Italy and all our friends and family and flying in. After the wedding I’m taking a three month sabbatical as a long honeymoon and I can’t wait.

Or maybe it could be:

I’ve shifted focus at work and am now working in the mental health team. I’ve dropped my time at work to 4 days a week because I have a 3 year old daughter and I love spending Wednesdays running around the park with her.

Or perhaps it’s:

I’ve started my own event business running wine tastings and wine classes in Wales. I sold my London flat and bought a little house in Aberystwyth and the money I didn’t have to spend on property is paying all my expenses for 12 months while I try and get my wine business off the ground.

Now, those are three scenarios that could come from the same person. The idea is not to have the same vision twice which means you might end up with some wild possibilities – but if you play this for a while you’ll find that certain themes start to recur. In playing this game we realised that we wanted to start our own business and we decided that we wanted two kids.

You can also have some fun – in one potential scenario we had run away to live a beachcomber existence, fishing for food and growing our own vegetables. It sounded idyllic and wonderful for the length of 30 seconds before I remembered that I’m not the biggest fan of the outdoors and would rather have WiFi and Netflix than a drafty hermitage on a beach. Still it’s fun to imagine, and that’s the whole point of this. Using your imagination and storytelling abilities to talk about everything that could be can help you narrow down what might be.

So take a shot – what could you be doing in five years’ time…?

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