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? I’m a gay man in my early-40s. I just want to be able to pay the bills, hang out with my friends, and have some fun. Where will that get me in five years’ time? I don’t know, I can’t think that far ahead.
I’ll admit that at times it does feel like I’m blundering along blindly - lurching from one crisis to the next. Would things be better if I had a five-year plan? Would I be in a better position if I was working to the concept of a career ladder? Probably. But that kind of strategy only works if you can visualise or articulate what you’re trying to achieve.
There’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.
There was an episode of Will & Grace where they talked about the five pillars of your life – it was something like health, relationships, work, family, and finance. I use Will & Grace as a moral compass for most aspects of my life, so I’ve done a quick self-audit against the pillars.
Physically, I’m probably as unhealthy as I’ve ever been. A few years ago, I was gym-obsessed. These days, I have no interest in stepping foot in a gym - and it shows. On the plus side, my mental health is generally feeling fairly solid. I need to find a way to get some balance back into my health and fitness.
I’m feeling good about this one. I’m working with people that I really like, I’m getting paid, and I’ve got a bit more confidence that there’s an audience for what I write.
I love my family, and I need to spend more time with them. Being spread out around the world, it can sometimes feel like we’re a bit distant. The good news is that these days we’re all a bit more grown-up and forgiving.
I guess it depends on your reference point, but I’m feeling more financially stable now than I have in a long time. It’s amazing – but not surprising – how not having enough money causes so much stress.
I’m a gay man in my early-40s. I just want to be able to pay the bills, hang out with my friends, and have some fun. That’s my five-year plan and I’m okay with that.