It has always interested (and baffled) me why the question ‘Where do you see yourself in five years time?’ is such a popular question when being interviewed for a new job. Firstly, you may have done all the research that you can on your future employer, but still not know much about the job past the job description; so what you are actually thinking is, woah, woah, woah, can I spend some time learning on the job first before I think about where and how this takes me to my future goals? Of course you don't say that, but instead mutter something profound. Secondly, you may the type of person who's perfectly comfortable staying in a job for a long time without moving about frequently (this can include laterally in similar roles, or going up the hierarchy). But, you know that maybe your contentment staying in your role could be an answer to rule you out, so tell them what you think they want to hear.
Many people are looking for the progression, whether it be quickly (say, within six months of joining the employer), or a slower climb up the ladder (being promoted because of experience measured by years, or a next level job only opening up because someone has left the role). But however the amount of time, there has always been a correlation with progression and being good at your job. What if you're an expert at what you do, but are happy in the position you are?
You may like where you are for a number of reasons; the pay supports you and your lifestyle, you like the type of work you do and the workload, you like your line manager and your team, you have a good work-life balance. Perhaps you understand that even though you're an expert and know most things, that the dynamics will change if you start to climb higher; the pay may be better, but you may be relocated or have a longer commute, you may manage people and have more accountability and responsibility, the workload may get heavier and your work-life balance may change a little or a lot.
For some people, this sounds like just what they need in order to reach their aspirations. For some people, this sends panic sweats to their palms. Both are equally normal, so it should be okay for people to want to stay doing the job that they're doing without being met by weird looks, while wanting to climb the ladder is praised and comes sometimes be seen as signifying a ‘harder working ethic' than the person that wants to remain seated. It has nothing to do with the amount of effort put into the work — it’s just personal preference. As long as you have job satisfaction and are happy with all of your goals being met, then keep doing you!
You're by no means less of a badass — you are an expert in your job and chosen field. You're a mentor to the newer people in the team, and have skills that they want to build to match yours. You are the go-to guru when your line manager needs help to solve a problem because you’ve solved it so many times, you can do it with your eyes closed. You've spent time getting to know the team and saying goodbye to people who leave while welcoming new ones. You are the one that other teams know about because you’ve worked in your team for x amount of years and know so much.
It’s okay to stay in the job you are for the rest of your life if you want to. Only you can chose where you want to be on the job ladder.