Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Summer is synonymous with a less frantic pace of work for many of us. You can count on it being a good chance to shift your focus outside of the daily grind.
But you can also use the extra-time to plan ahead and take your career to the next level?
Whether you work on your own career path, focus on team cohesion or fine-tune your strategic skills, there are many things you can do that may well make a huge difference in a couple of months.
Here are 10 summer activities to take your career to the next level.
1. A life audit can take your career to the next level
The quality of your performance at work depends heavily on what’s going on in your wider life. As you reach mid-year, having a look at how you balance health, love, play and work is not an indulgent thing to do. It should be your #1 priority.
Have any of these categories been given more attention without you even noticing? Where are you lagging behind? Any impact on your performance? On your emotional state?
A leadership or life audit can help you gain a new perspective on yourself. It’s a fantastic tool to build a personal foundation on which you can take your career to the next level.
Want to know more about doing a life audit? Check how to start a self exploration routine.
2. Revisit your Personal Development Plan
I bet you started the year with development goals to take your career to the next level.
How far did you progress? How much of that is still relevant today? Mid-year is the perfect time to cross off the list what is now achieved and revisit your goals. What if you noticed you gained skills and experience in other areas? Areas where no specific goal was set in the first place?
Assess what you learned there, too. Because it could something to explore further in the next few months.
Personal development plans establish the principle that development is about doing things differently. If you explored a different area of your professional plan and got a lot from it, it’s not that you can’t follow through. It means you are flexible enough to prioritise according to the dynamics of your leadership situation.
Ready to step into your leadership potential? Grab my FREE e-book! Discover what you need to strengthen your inner game and become a confident leader.
3. Take your career to the next level through networking
Any successful leader will tell you relationships can help you stand out at work. Isn’t Summer a better time for that long-overdue lunch with your mentor? What about a drink with ex-colleagues?
An innocent coffee is not only a great way to check in with someone you hold in high esteem. It can help you to stay top of people’s minds if any opportunity arises. (Yes, a casual catch up is a real way to land a dream job. And take your career to the next level!)
But as anything, in relationships, it’s a two-way street. How do you feel about sharing your experience, too? Fancy doing a bit of mentoring? You definitely have advice and expertise there that could help others. Why not offer a mini-training on what you’re known to do best?
4. Team time!
Because they have been working hard, too.
One of my best memories as a team member was one sunny day when, quite unexpectedly, our boss took us out for lunch on a nice rooftop in London. We spent the afternoon chatting and then got to go home early.
It was a simple way to say thanks for the hard work done over the past weeks. But as you can see, it stuck.
What simple thing could you do to delight your team and say thanks in a meaningful way?
5. Bring coaching back on the menu
As a leader, others’ growth is your job. All year long.
Summer is the perfect time to go deep into one specific point of coaching. Why not have a dedicated session with each team member to take their career to the next level? Ask about the one thing they think is getting in the way of their growth. Explore the specifics they want to work on.
Then, choose one together and craft a small coaching plan to action over the next few weeks. Not only will you help with a concrete skills upload, you’ll reinforce your relationship, too.
6. Work on team culture
Another great thing to do is to plan a couple of hours to discuss team culture.
Work is often about achieving goals and setting tasks, assuming all will work as one. But what are the values that make the core of the team? What works? What needs to change? What makes everyone feel part of a special unit?
Being aligned, from a culture and values standpoint, is a great asset for a team: that’s the baseline everyone can always go back to. That’s the best way to describe your team spirit to newcomers, too.
But from a career development perspective, the trademark of a seasoned leader is her ability to create a team DNA. Committed to take your career to the next level? Then it’s time to work on your team dynamics!
7. Spot your bias
Did you develop unhealthy habits? (Be honest, we all do!)
You had good resolutions at the beginning of the year… and life got in the way. Suddenly, there is less exercise, less sleep, less quality food… because there is only so much you can do and at the end of the day, no one’s perfect. We all cope the best we can.
But why not spend time thinking of where those habits come from? What are the triggers for the patterns you just observed? How can you set some simple rules to be able to circumvent effects instead of falling back into old habits?
When you reset your habits and resolutions, you acknowledge your boundaries. All successful leaders have clear boundaries and work hard at protecting them. Why? Because they guarantee an effective and productive leadership.
8. Read a few good books
From cognitive simulation to stress reduction, there’s more to the knowledge you gain by reading. If you have a long list of books waiting for you, could be a great time to look into it. Personally, I tend to choose 3 books: one for self-development; one leadership-oriented (or a bio); and a good novel.
If you’re not a big reader, worry not! Try audiobooks. Or choose a theme and dive into podcasts (check this list for leaders to switch on innovative thinking), or TED Talks (you’ll find my special selection of TED Talks to nurture inspiration here).
9. Think of how you want to go through the rest of the year
Because you’re rested, you’ll have a clear mind and know where you want to go…
And you’re in the best position to set a healthy direction of travel that will take your career to the next level.
See, those times of focus are essential to clarify your intentions, decide your first step, and state what you hope to achieve in the long run.
And then yes, life will happen and you’ll need to adjust. But if you started with your True North in mind, there’s a good chance you’ll stay on track for the final push of the year.
10. Go slow
Why not leave the office on time for a change? Spend more time on hobbies? Take your kids to the zoo as they’ve been asking you for ages? Or go on a date with your loved one?
Love and endorphins balance your hormones and help to greatly reduce stress. So as a summer break is on the way, make it a special moment for the people who share your life.
Because that bad day you had on the office, yes, it impacts them too!
What is it you do to advance your career when the pace of work slows down a little? Tell us in the comments!