There’s something about September, a legacy of the school academic year that means this time of year feels like a turning point. Previously a fresh start marked with new shoes, pencil cases and exercise books. Outside of a new job or a promoted position there aren’t quite the same clear milestones in the working world to step back and assess your direction, achievements and progress. So hello September! Just like that Summer is over. The financial year for many is half way completed and the reality is we are on the fast track to Christmas. Blink and you’ll miss the last of the year pass by in a flash and new years resolutions will be there to greet you – yikes!
Reflect now or forever hold your peace
As 2012 elapses there is less and less time to achieve the goals we had initially set out to achieve. These can be personal goals as well as career related goals, and so September becomes the perfect time for reflection on your achievements and where you are currently headed. It is the perfect time to ask yourself what you hope to accomplish in the remaining months of this year. Its not something to dread or huff and puff about. It isn’t tedious or boring. Just follow these straight forward steps and refocus for the rest of the year. Lets face it, no one benefits as much from your career advancement as you do.
How to conduct a mid-year career review:
1. Where are you now?
It is important to assess where you are in your career, where did you start, how far have you come and where you are going. It sound like a cliché but ask yourself: where do you want to see yourself in five years? Compare that to where your career is currently and where you think your career will end up. Think about what experience you need to make the next step, where and how can you get this.
If your career is on track, how does that work within your overall life – could the balance be better, what would make you happier? It is still advisable to make some concrete plans and take some steps to keep the momentum going, avoid boredom creeping in and be as skilled and employable as you can be. The global economic roller coaster of the 21st Century means change is the only constant, preparation is the only defence.
2. What have you accomplished?
Think about your accomplishments in the first part of the year. What have you achieved career-wise? Have you developed yourself professionally? It is so important that you keep track of your development and your accomplishments. Create a list of your key accomplishments for the year, highlight where you have excelled. If you have had a hand at increasing sales for the company, successfully led a project, were fundamental in bringing onboard new projects or products recognise this. This is the pat on the back time, remind yourself, being able to recall your accomplishments in an interview situation is easier if you keep on top of what you achieve. If your achievements aren’t quite where you had wanted them, then this forms the start of your action plan for the second half of the year.
If you feel you have not succeeded in achieving some of your career plans, and have struggled to achieve your goals, then reflect on where things went wrong. Decide where to implement changes so that you can achieve success in the second half of the year. Don’t allow your setbacks to keep you back. You learn more from your mistakes than your successes, turn it into a positive, learn from your mistakes and move forward.
3. What are you going to do now?
Developing or adjusting your career action plan for the second half of the year is a crucial stage. This step makes the difference between career inertia or advancement. It is not enough to have a vision or a goal you need to have a plan to achieve those goals. The plan is the actions you are going to take, it needs to be realistic so spend some time considering the deadlines you are going to set yourself. If your end goal feels unachievable, breaking it down into simple steps and actions that are achievable will get you there.
Actions can be simple things like reconnecting with individuals or recruitment consultants in your network, having a focus on new types of projects or initiatives to gain experience in as well as more involved steps such as gaining additional training/education, work experience or striving for new network contacts in a new sector.
After completing this process, you will have a renewed focus on you and your career and also an action plan to advance yourself forward to even greater success in the remainder of the year. Finally, some good housekeeping – take an hour to update your CV, add in those accomplishments, add to your LinkedIn and other social profiles and update your profile picture. These are all small subtle reminders that keep you front of mind amongst your professional network.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten
If you’re reading this thinking “I didn’t have a goal I was just happy to have a job in uncertain times” – now is the time to take control. I think everyone is entitled to be happy and comfortable in their professional roles, time with your foot off the gas is not a bad thing if you are focussing time and energies elsewhere in your life. However if you need your income to pay the bills that keep the roof over your head, milk in your fridge and clothes on your back it would be foolish to not give your career due time and attention. Be professional and proactive about managing your career. It is no one else’s responsibility so if you’re not doing doing it, then here’s the reality check, your career isn’t being managed!