Summer is the right time for a career MOT
Why we all need to give ourselves a regular career health check.
For most of us, summer means the chance to take a break, spend time with family and friends, and recharge our batteries.
It’s something we look forward to and a couple of weeks out of the office can be the perfect way to refresh and re-energise yourself. It also gives you a rare opportunity to take stock and examine where you are on a professional level.
Now I know what you are thinking, but I say this because in my working world I tend to speak to people who have already decided it’s time to move on. This is not what I mean when I say, “take stock and examine where you are”.
In my experience, even though a lot of businesses fail to support the ongoing development of their staff appropriately, the majority of people also don’t help themselves because they neglect to take responsibility and hold themselves accountable for making sure they continue to move in the direction of their personal goals.
Of course, I know from my own experience that it is far from easy to make time to ask yourself difficult questions when you’re busy and happy, but this is exactly when you should do it, to ensure things stay that way.
The summer gives you the extra time and space you need to reflect on where you are in your career and what it is that you want to achieve through your work.
So, where to start. Begin by asking yourself some simple but very important questions. Are you good at what you do? Do you still enjoy going to work? Are you happy with your work-life balance? Do your values align with those of colleagues and do you have passion for the company’s mission?
When was the last time you had a work appraisal or asked for feedback from your boss on your performance? Can you list your key objectives, or have they changed since you last discussed them with your manager? Do you know how that could affect your future promotion prospects? You must keep the lines of communication open with your team leader.
Assuming you want to continue learning and developing at work, think also about the new skills you have picked up over the last 12 months. Are you continuing to expand your knowledge, or are there any courses or support you could receive that would help you to keep growing both personally and professionally?
When was the last time you refreshed your CV? It always pays to keep a sensible eye on the job market, not only to see what opportunities are out there but to make sure you know your value; particularly if you have been with a business for a reasonable period.
People can grow out of even the best jobs over time. Sometimes you need a change or a new challenge to reinvigorate yourself, but before you begin searching make sure you think carefully about your current role, employer and your prospects and plans.
It’s important to do this and to be honest with yourself, as well as trying to remember that work will never be as much fun as spending time with your family and friends, so don’t be too hard on yourself either.
To be truly happy, I believe you need to find a purpose in your work that supports your long-term goals and for that, you must understand what matters to you most in life. If you’re lucky enough to match this with your strengths, it should become a lot easier to figure out what you need to do next. It’s then just down to you to go and make it happen.