Anyone working in the world of careers will appreciate that September is the new January. For those based in an educational setting it is a clear cut new start, as students return and resume their studies. For those working outside this sector, September often heralds new clients and contracts as time for reflection over the summer break persuades many to start seeking career alternatives or improvements. So it is a busy time of year for us all. But a great time, nonetheless, to consider what this next 12 months will bring us and how we can really make the most of it.
As career professionals we are expert in guiding others to think things through and make positive changes. But how many times do we apply these same skills to ourselves? I’ll be the first to admit that this isn’t something I do as much as I should so perhaps this is a good time to start practicing what we preach?
As busy as things may be, it makes sense to take a step backwards before pressing forwards with new challenges. Be reflective. Think back over the year to things you have done well – how can you build on the successes? Conversely, think long and hard about what didn’t go so well and what needs to change? What practices do you need to add to your work and which do you just need to do differently? Remember – this doesn’t have to be about the bigger aims of your organisation, it can be simple shifts in working style to help you work smarter and present a better business model.
Plan your actions
Action planning is such a large part of our own working lives but how often do we apply the same rules to ourselves? We know that writing down actions, with a clear deadline against them, makes them so much more manageable than if we just leave them as thoughts in our head. So if we aren’t integrating this into our own work practices, then why not? Start small. Chunk things down into bite-sized actions, so that they are more realistically achievable. The sense of achievement you gain as you work your way through them will create the momentum for you to carry on.
I regularly advise clients to share their action plan with others – that extra level of accountability is an added incentive to work harder towards goals. And the same remains true with us. Commitment to actions are harder to ignore and escape from if someone else is in on them too. Be responsible for your own success – share your plans with someone else and prove to them that you are sticking to what you say you will do.
So, regardless of how busy things may feel at the moment, try and prioritise putting time aside to make your own plans for the next 12 months. Thinking into the future, where do you want to be this time next year? Identify what it is you need to do to get there, plan it and do it!