Making career decisions is always a daunting task. Whether you are a student choosing a university or a professional choosing your next job, the decision greatly impacts the next steps of your life. There always seem to be multiple contending sides and numerous possibilities, all of which have sound reasons for you to consider.

I recently experienced this internal conflict when branching out to a new team at work. Team organization, technology stack, and development process were among my long list of considerations. Additionally, every team seemed to provide ample opportunities for career advancement and growth. I was spinning in circles.

In hopes of resolving this, I seeked help from my supportive manager. He asked me this.

Where do you want to be in five years?

I pondered over this for a short moment, recalling my previous experiences as scrum master. I told him I really enjoyed leading my team’s development process and felt that the natural progression was towards management. So I thought to myself,

Management would entail qualities such as technical expertise, organizational skills, and interpersonal communication.

Most of all, management embodies leadership.

Leadership. That’s the quality of a great manager and that’s what I needed to focus on.

As I realized this, it became clear to me which factor to prioritize in making this decision. While qualities such as team foundation and development technologies were important, leadership opportunities were essential to my goal. Looking out five years from now narrowed my long list of considerations into a single factor which ultimately solidified my decision.

So, next time you are faced with a difficult career decision, where do you want to be in five years?