By Erin Ewart
“How are you?” has become such a tricky question to answer this year. It’s hard to know how honest to be and what to share these days when someone asks you that question.
As we enter the second half of the year, it’s important for all of us to step back and ask ourselves how we’re doing, and how things are really going in our lives and careers.
That’s especially true this year, as we have all been navigating so much change and uncertainty. Many aspects of our lives and careers have shifted drastically in a short timeframe, and our plans need to change to reflect that.
For me, those shifts have included moving to a part-time work schedule while taking care of two small kids, rethinking our business strategy and how to best support our clients in light of the economic climate, and most importantly, working to build a bigger focus on racial equity and anti-racism into my life and work.
I have a lot to reflect on, and I know that I need to reprioritize where to spend my time and energy over the rest of this year. You may be feeling the same after navigating your own shifts this year, and I hope you can use the framework below to review, reset, and reprioritize as we move into the second half of the year.
If your organization has a mid-year review process, the steps below can help you prepare for it. If you’re currently job searching, it can help you hone in on how your search has been going and what changes or adjustments you may need to make moving forward.
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 certainly 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. Try to at least to get through the first section below with reflection questions, since that’s the most important. I’m going to take my own advice and make sure I do this too!
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 (we all get a bit of 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 when we started the year: 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 right now in the midst of so much ongoing uncertainty, but we can’t completely ignore it.
Building from your reflections above, create a high level plan for the rest of the year. Pick no more than three main goals to focus on, and try to make one of those around taking care of yourself, because we are definitely in a marathon here.
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 (1-2 hours max), but try to:
- Take the accomplishments you listed 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 initial 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!