Remember the first day of school? It represented a fresh start: The academic year ahead was a blank slate, and anything was possible. As a business professional, fresh starts are rare – and they may not necessarily be on your terms. As the summer winds down and the kids head back to school why not clear your own slate and reboot your career?
This doesn't mean quitting your job and starting over. It means taking a deep breath, taking stock of what you want to accomplish by next summer, stocking up on supplies, establishing a routine, and measuring your progress along the way.
1. Take a deep breath – Before you do anything, take a deep breath and let the past go. Cranky about a policy at work that you don't particularly like? Hurt by a coworker's behavior? Mad that you were overlooked for a promotion? Turn on some quiet music and meditate. Let your grievances go because you are rebooting your work life starting now.
2. Take stock – What do you want to accomplish between now and the end of the school year? Write it down. Your children must learn a full year's curriculum and demonstrate proficiency in a myriad of subjects before they can move to the next grade, yet working professionals often just go with the flow without a clear plan. If you want a promotion, what will it take to earn it between now and the last day of school?
3. Stock up – Along with back-to-school time comes back-to-school shopping. Since you're rebooting your career, now is a great time to stock up on supplies, a planner, and other tools. Depending on your goals, you may need to invest in new software or a training manual to learn new skills. In addition, you may want to polish your professional image with a new wardrobe and hairstyle. As the saying goes, "dress for success."
4. Set your routine – Now that you have a fresh attitude, a plan, and any needed supplies, it's time to establish a routine. Just as you expect your children to do their homework, get a good night's sleep, and wake up with sufficient time to get ready for school, the same applies to you. Plan easy-to-prepare healthy meals in advance so there's less of a rush each night. Do your own homework when the kids do theirs. For example, if you've set a goal of increasing your typing speed to 70 words per minute, use your typing software and practice typing while the kids work on their homework.
5. Measure progress – Pop quizzes, weekly tests, mid-terms, and final exams are a fact of life for students, but how often are you tested on the job? While your boss may not spring a pop quiz on you, take the initiative to measure your own progress periodically. Schedule regular self-assessments and make sure that you stay on track.
Use the back-to-school season to give your career a fresh start. By letting go of the past, taking stock of the future, and taking action to define and achieve your goals, you'll be better equipped to make your career dreams come true.