Earlier this week, I celebrated Rosh HaShana, the Jewish new year. Not unlike the new year we all celebrate, it’s a time for reflection, thinking about the past year and what changes you want to make for the year ahead. Which got me thinking about a book I recently read.
The book is Still Alice by Lisa Genova. It’s a wonderful, touching novel about a neurologist who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. Knowing what her future holds, Alice sets up a recurring reminder on her Blackberry to ask herself these five questions:
- What month is it?
- Where do you live?
- Where is your office?
- When is Anna’s birthday?
- How many children do you have?
When the day eventually comes that Alice can’t answer any of the five questions, the reminder tells her to follow a set of instructions she left for herself when she was still of sound mind.
This book came to mind when I was talking with a friend who recently left an unfulfilling work situation for another opportunity she wasn’t quite sure about. Through our conversation, I realized that, like Alice, we could all use a monthly reminder to asses our current situation.
So set up a monthly reminder on your phone to ask yourself your own set of questions. If one or more of the answers is no, maybe it’s time to step back and see what changes you can make to get yourself back on track.
Here’s my current list of questions:
- Am I happy?
- Am I being challenged?
- Have I created something I’m proud of?
- Am I spending time with people I can learn from?
- Have I worked on something for myself?
If you aren’t feeling challenged, ask your boss for a new opportunity (in addition to what you’re doing, not necessarily instead of). If you haven’t created something you’re proud of, look for a side project that can get your creative juices flowing. Working on a project for yourself can do wonders for a frustrated creative. Those of us in advertising spend so much time creating on behalf of our clients, it can be refreshing to create art just for arts sake.
The changes you make don’t have to be big—most time they won’t be. That’s why it helps to ask yourself the questions each month. If you can course-correct along the way, hopefully you won’t wake up one day, like Alice, not knowing how you got “here.”
What’s on your list of questions? Share them in the comments!