Ah, summertime! The days are longer and hopefully a little less hectic. Summer is a great time to catch reflections of your many facets. You might see your smiling face reflected in a storefront window as you stroll through a quaint tourist town. Maybe you catch a glimpse of your “silly self” reflected in a sparkling pool as you cannonball into the deep end. It might be your serene self staring back from the smooth-as-glass lake as you watch the sunset on a beautiful evening. We’ve all seen our critical reflection judging harshly from a fitting room mirror as we try on new summer clothes! You may see your proud self reflected in the shiny surface of the car you spent the day washing and waxing.
The slower pace of the summer months is also an excellent time to reflect on your professional self. This type of reflection is the mental process of thinking through your experiences, looking back on them, thinking critically about them, and learning from them.
Here are four steps to get you started:
- Look back over professional experiences from the last 6 to 12 months. Make a list (written or mental) of successes you’ve had, new skills you have mastered, classes or degrees you have completed, challenges you have overcome. What are the highs (or the lows) of the past year? Have you been recognized for your accomplishments, received awards or certifications, or received great feedback on a project? What did you enjoy most, and least, about your job or classes?
- Now that you have your list, think about each entry. What are the areas in which you’ve improved? Where do you still have work to do? What makes you proud or showcases your talents? Are there things on your list that you want to expand on or become better at, and are there some things that are no longer as important to you?
- You’ve made your list; you’ve reflected on each entry; now it’s time to process and set some goals. If you graduated, have a new job, or honed some new skills, your goal could be to update your resume to reflect these changes. After looking back you might feel there are some areas where improvement is needed. You could set a goal to attend Toastmasters to improve your communication skills, or become a better leader. If you have some great success stories your goal could be to record them for future use in an interview or performance review. After reflection, you may find that you aren’t satisfied with your current job and set a goal to find a more fulfilling position.
- Great! You’ve thought, reflected, and processed; what comes next? How are you going to turn the goals you have set in to reality? Taking action is the next step-- create an action plan. Here’s how:
- Determine what specific action will occur.
- Each step should be clear and actionable. Make a “to-do” list with a date to begin and to complete each task.
- Break large tasks into smaller manageable tasks.
- Be sure to budget in any costs associated with actions. Have a plan to cover costs.
An action plan is key to career progression. For more help with creating an action plan visit http://www.proactivehrm.com/JobSearch/Action_Plan.html.
Enjoy your summer and happy reflecting!