While most people wait until January to create new habits and make resolutions, the fall is a much more natural time to plot and plan your next career step.
According to Kathryn Lively, a sociology professor and dean of Dartmouth College, it’s intrinsic to associate the fall with a new, and likely more exciting, beginning in your life. The change of season from summer to fall triggers a conditioned response toward anticipation, based on early memories of starting each school year with new teachers and school supplies, as well as an exciting opportunity to rebrand your style in new clothes and grow your social circle.
The crisp cool air, changing of the leaves and even the magical arrival of all-things-pumpkin, have come to be associated with new possibilities.
You can further capitalize on this feeling by choosing to evaluate your career options annually during the fall. Here are a few additional reasons why the fall is the best time to reflect on what is working well in your career, what you may have outgrown, where you want to go next and how to get there.
The fall will pressure-test your work-life harmony
Work-life balance may be a fallacy, but finding a way to get all parts of your life to work in harmony remains a necessity and a key predictor of career satisfaction.
This is never more challenging to do than in the fall when new demands may be placed on your home life at the same time that workplace obligations dramatically ramp up. You may find yourself looking at your calendar filled with things like strategic planning meetings, your family’s back-to-school activities, business travel and even fun social events, and worry that you can’t possibly fit everything in.
Each fall, you are forced to establish a new rhythm in your life. This makes it the perfect time to assess what worked well the previous year, but it’s also a time to get real about the strains and drains in your life that sent you into last year’s holiday season already too depleted to fully enjoy it.
How will you avoid that this year? Are there any time commitments you can afford to cut out? Is your job and the culture of your company helping you achieve the life you want to be living? And if not, is this the year you need to make a change? Make sure you are asking yourself these work-life questions and paying close attention to the answers.
You need to start planning for your review
“I just love working on my performance review,” said nobody ever.
Unfortunately, most performance review seasons start in the fall. Before you know it, you will be tasked with drawing up a list of the things you’ve accomplished this year. And while it’s tedious and can even feel like a waste of your time at some companies, you can use the review as a tool to help you measure if you are making progress on the things that matter most to you.
Your company wants to know what you accomplished for them, but you need to know how much you care about what you worked on. Are you addressing the problems you want to impact? Are you learning things that are meaningful to you? Are you using your talents fully? Who are you helping with your work and does that align with your values?
Take the time to capture a well-rounded view of what you accomplished this year. Don’t hesitate to include activities outside of work that you can always drop from the official review form later. But for now, reflect on this year and note what you are most proud of and where you have regrets, if any.
Goal-setting season is just around the corner
If you remain aware and anchor your fall in reflection and soul-searching, you will enter the goal-setting season with a fresh perspective.
The winter, January in particular, is the most popular time for launching new goals. But in the past, you may have been too distracted during the fall to effectively evaluate what you really want next. Don’t let that happen this year. Don’t find yourself in December wondering how you can shake things up and then choosing some arbitrary goal in January.
It takes time to observe your life and it takes time to let ideas grow. Commit to spending the fall in assessment mode and you will naturally attract inspiration about where to direct your talents next.
Originally posted by Kourtney Whitehead
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