I really don’t like pitching for work, or job interviews, or any kind of situation where I have to try and sell my potential. The question that always trips me up is – Why is this the next step on your career ladder?
I used to think that I had a career ladder - or some kind of concept of linear progression for my career. My understanding of professional life was that Job A would lead to Job B, that if I could do well at Job B then that would get me to Job C - each job bigger and better, each job a step forward to more money, more success, more happiness.
Maybe that scenario actually works for some people. It hasn’t worked for me. If we’re sticking with the ladder analogy, then my career has been more a case of Snakes & Ladders – just when I think I’m making some progress, then something crops up that takes me back to square one.
The other question that tends to trip me up is – Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Who has a five-year plan anymore? Was a global pandemic in anyone's five-year plan?
I’ll admit that at times it does feel like I’m blundering along blindly - lurching from one crisis to the next - but here’s so much that is beyond my control - I could be hit by a bus, I could succumb to a mystery flesh-eating virus, I could be forced to flee a war-zone, I might not be able to access wifi.
Talking to a few therapists, one technique that you can do - if you're feeling unsure about where you should be putting your focus - is the five pillars. This is a way of doing a quick self-audit against some of your major priorities.
You may not aspire to be an underwear model, and you may have no interest in hitting the gym, but it's not a bad idea to have a bit of a plan to stay fit and healthy. Ask your doctor to do a check-up - make sure that there's nothing that's going to take you by surprise. Small changes can make a big difference - even if it's just making sure that you go for a walk each day.
Whether you're in a relationship or if you're single, it's never a bad idea to take a step back and make sure that your relationships, your dating, or just your casual connections are giving you what you need and that you're giving your loved ones what they need.
Beyond whether or not you're able to pay the bills, it's worth taking a quick stock-take to ensure that you're doing work that you enjoy and that is enabling you to pursue your passions.
Whether you've got a big family or a small one, how are those relationships? Are you spending quality time with each other? Are there any underlying conflicts that you need to address and resolve?
Taking a look at your finances can be a bit confronting - when you do the maths, it might feel like you're going backwards. Take a look at what you're spending money on - have you got the right priorities? Are your spending habits helping to set you up for what you want to do in the future?