At this time of year, many of us are dealing with back-to-school chaos or taking the last days of warm weather to go on vacation.
When spring rolls around, we may be filled with energy as we emerge from the cold, dark days of winter. But when the days grow shorter in autumn, we may sort of begin to draw in on ourselves. We huddle a little more deeply into our cubicle, and think more about what soup to order for lunch rather than how to energize our careers.
That's why I've put together an autumn checklist for your career. It's a way to keep things headed in the right direction even as summer comes to a close. You should:
1. Touch base with your network. It's a great time to say "I hope you've enjoyed your summer!" to some of your LinkedIn contacts and then just sort of catch up. "Is there anything you're working on that I can help you with?" There also are usually a lot of fall workshops and seminars in various industries -- make a commitment to attend at least one so you can expand your network or connect with those in your industry.
2. Read at least one career-focused book. Try to read a book that will make you think more deeply about a subject, whether it's how to develop your emotional intelligence or how to give a better PowerPoint. Ask for recommendations from your network.
3. Do a career temperature check. This will take some time and shouldn't be rushed in between emails and meetings. Find some quiet time (mute the phone, please) when you can just write down any random thoughts you have about your career. Happy? Unhappy? Bored? Stressed? Fulfilled? Then, be more specific about what makes you unhappy or bored or fulfilled. The purpose of this exercise is to always be honest with yourself about your career. Your job is where you spend most of your time -- to not truly understand how you feel about it could lead to a lot of problems one day. If you've got a handle on your career and how you feel about it, you'll make smarter decisions day-to-day.
Finally, let me wish all of you a happy Labor Day. You inspire me every day with your hard work in the face of everything that life throws at you.