By Erin Ewart
All the sudden it’s June, and we’re almost halfway through the year already.
As we navigate this time of so much transition, it’s especially important to take a step back at this point in the year and ask ourselves how we’re doing, and how things are going in our lives and careers.
So much has changed and shifted over the past year. For me, those shifts included moving to a part-time work schedule (and then back to full-time again) while taking care of two small kids, rethinking our business strategy in light of the changing job market and economic climate, and working to build a bigger focus on racial equity and anti-racism into my life and work.
As the world reopens, I know I need to consider how I’ll spend my time and energy over the rest of this year, so I don’t get swept away in the busyness of returning to “normal”. You may be feeling the same, and I hope you can use the framework below to review, reset, and reprioritize as we move into the second half of the year.
Before diving in, I want to say that I know you may be feeling overwhelmed just dealing with everything that’s on your plate right now (I know I have been), and that it may feel hard to create time and space for reflection.
But that actually makes it even more important to do this kind of exercise, so that you can identify where to focus and what to de-prioritize. This process doesn’t need to take hours and hours – what’s most important is that you dedicate a bit of time and space to it.
If your organization has a mid-year review process, the steps below can help you prepare for it. If you’re currently job searching or planning a career transition, they can help you hone in on where to focus and what changes or adjustments to make moving forward.
Here are three steps you can take to evaluate how the first half of the year has gone and prepare for the second half:
1. Reflect on and answer these questions about your year so far
We encourage our clients to do a career review each quarter focused around three key areas:
- People: How effectively have I been building and cultivating my professional relationships and network? What else do I want to do this year to strengthen them? Other people are critical to our success, and we need relationships and support now more than ever as we navigate the ups and downs of this year.
- Plan: How am I doing so far on the personal and professional goals I set for this year? What do I want to accomplish in the remainder of this year? This is not about beating yourself up if you aren’t on track with the goals you set in January, or if you didn’t set any at all (we all get a pass on that this year!). It’s about understanding what you have done, what has changed, and what you want to focus on next.
- Proof: What have been my proudest accomplishments so far this year? These don’t have to be huge projects and they don’t have to be work-related; what matters is that they were important to you. Once you have your list, look at themes across them and be sure to take a minute to celebrate what you have accomplished.
Given the volatility of this year, I’ll add a fourth “P” to the mix:
- Priorities: How have my priorities shifted since the beginning of this year? What implications does that have for my life and career? Things in your life may look a lot different than pre-pandemic: a different employment situation, new responsibilities at home, or more clarity about what’s important to you. Make sure you do some thinking about these shifts and how they will impact your plans moving forward.
Set aside some time this weekend or in the next few weeks to reflect and do some free writing on these questions. There are no right or wrong answers here – this is a chance for you to do some deeper thinking on how the year has gone, celebrate your successes (so important!), and get directional clarity on what you want to prioritize for the rest of this year.
2. Create a plan for the second half of the year
Planning is especially hard in the midst of uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean we get to ignore it.
Building from your reflections above, pick no more than three main goals to focus on for the rest of the year. We suggest making at least one of those a personal goal, to ensure you’re prioritizing self-care.
Once you have your three big goals, review them to make sure they’re SMART, and identify up to three smaller action steps you want to take to move forward on each one. Commit to a deadline for each, and note what you’ll need to make each one happen – is there information you need to research? Support you’ll need? Identify any roadblocks or barriers that might get in the way, so that you can proactively solve for them.
Finally, as you’re setting goals and creating make sure to focus on things that are within your control. So for example “find a new job by September” sounds great, but ultimately the timing of when you’ll land a new job depends on a lot of factors, some of which are external. Think about the actions you can control that will lead to that outcome, like the number of people you’ll reach out to for networking conversations, the applications you’ll submit, or the time you’ll dedicate to interview practice.
3. Update your career toolkit
This one is more tactical, but it’s important to do regularly. You are the owner and driver of your career, and taking a proactive approach is important to ensure you’re prepared for performance evaluation conversations or for a planned or unplanned career move.
You don’t have to spend a long time on this, but try to:
- Take the accomplishments you listed in the reflection section above and build a few of them out in the STAR format, capturing as many details as you can about what you did and the impact and results of your work. You will be grateful to have this information to support your request for a raise or promotion, or to share in your resume and interviews if you’re looking for a new role.
- Update your resume and LinkedIn profile to add any new accomplishments you outlined above and ensure they are current and up to date. Reference our posts on resumes and LinkedIn for specific tips to keep in mind as you make updates.
This process might feel daunting if you haven’t made updates in a while, so if that’s the case, set a timer and spend 30 minutes working on it. Once that time is up you may find you want to keep going, but if not give yourself a break, make some notes about other updates you want to make, and commit to another 30 minute block the next day. A few of these shorter working sessions should be sufficient to make your updates.
I hope that this combination of reflection and action steps helps you feel more prepared to tackle the rest of this year with clarity and purpose. While this year has shown us how much is ultimately out of our control, let’s remember that we can control how we choose to spend our time, energy, and talents.
Good luck, and please let us know what insights this process brings up for you!