Do you have your priorities straight?
The Cake Allegory
In this blog post, I introduce a short coaching tool you can use to reflect on your priorities. This way you can prioritize what your next professional step should include and what should be put on the back burner unexpectedly.
A short introduction
Our priorities are shifting over the course of our life. There are times when we are more focused on a healthy work-life balance and there are times when we are focusing all our energy and mind space on a specific topic. At some point in our life, we long for financial independence and then again for personal development. Moving abroad or moving back home also triggers a shift in priorities. However, this often happens unnoticed as we are so consumed with the whole logistical part of moving countries but also because we are faced with different expectations that trigger us to fall back into former life priorities.
In my coaching practice, I create a space that allows you to articulate all options and thoughts without judging them right from the beginning. It is vital to step outside the comfort zone of well-known habits and beliefs and allow to watch your life from an outside perspective. In this blog post, I am sharing a quick allegory with you that will help you to start this thought process on your own and that will push you to really question your current priorities. I call it the cake allegory and this quick coaching tool is part of my workbook for the mastermind group sessions. (more info on the mastermind group program and new dates here.)
The Cake Allegory
Imagine that your profession is a cake consisting of different pieces. Each piece of cake embodies a characteristic of this profession. Examples of these characteristics are salary, financial & social security, self-development, social contacts & structures, and identity. In this diagram, all these properties are shown in the same size and are therefore equally weighted. The reality, however, looks different. Hardly any profession embodies all properties. Some professions fill you with meaning, where you appreciate your colleagues and learn a lot, but at the same time earn little. Or there are professions in which you earn a lot but receive little recognition from colleagues.
Torn out of our everyday working life, we often have very high demands and expectations of our next profession. It should pay a good salary, fill us with meaning, give us back control over our identity, create a structure and integrate us socially. It should secure our pension and give us access to the health care system. That‘s a lot for this one profession to accomplish. And if you look closely at the professions of your friends around you, you‘ll see that their professions don‘t do all that either.
What if there is a place where you can store your priorities temporarily?
To take the pressure off, let‘s imagine that there is a refrigerator into which we can pack parts of the cake. We don‘t throw them in the garbage, but we deliberately put them in the fridge for later because it is not a priority in our current situation. In another phase of your life, you might come back to them and will let go of other areas.
The three questions to ask you now are:
Look at your answers and reflect on them. Was it easy to assign priorities? Did something surprise you? Did you allow yourself to be unconventional?
I use this and other coaching exercises as a starting point for our conversations. They allow you to systematically approach the core topic, which often includes whether we give ourselves permission to think outside the comfortable thought patterns.
I hope you enjoyed this short exercise. Here you can find more exercises that will support you on your journey, many are also summarized in my ebook. Feel free to let me know how your priorities have shifted, either below in the comments or via personal message to email@example.com.
You can also download my free workbook on how to re-enter the workforce after moving abroad or back home.