It’s September, the summer is drawing to close and it’s back to work for most of us. This isn’t always the most inspiring of times, for many of us the return to work can be disheartening. We wonder how we ended up in the jobs we have, we have no clear sense of how we got here or where we are going. But although these feelings are understandable, they do not have to be overwhelming. Rather than feeling disappointed because we are returning to work, it can be far more beneficial to consider the end of summer as an opportunity to review our careers, and to make decisions as where we want it to go.
The most important thing to bear in mind is that we need to control our careers, and not have it control us. Rather than our career taking us somewhere, it’s far better to ask where we want to take it. This isn’t always easy to work out. But it is worth giving it some thought.
The basic idea is to set yourself career goals, assess how far you are from achieving them and then devise a strategy for getting there. If you get the first step right, the next two stages should follow on quite easily.
Your career goals should be quantifiable and measurable. This is so you can set yourself targets and milestones along the way. In other words, if you decide that your goal is to be happy at work, which is a quality that is not easy to measure, you will find it difficult to devise a strategy which allows you to track your progress. On the other hand, if you ask yourself what you need, in order to be happy at work, you should be able to set yourself achievable targets.
So break down your goals into categories. What sort of salary do you want to earn, what level of promotion? What does your work need to contain, in order that you find it interesting? How about your relationships at work, how could they be improved? Are you reaching your potential and if not what else do you need to be doing?
We are all different and we will all have different questions to ask of ourselves. But there needn’t be a rush. You should find that the very process of asking yourself the questions and setting yourself goals is positive in itself. Goal setting isn’t the answer; that lies in implementing the strategies you eventually devise. But goal setting does allow you to feel you are doing something about your dissatisfaction. And it should make your return to work that little bit more tolerable.
So, when you go back to work and that first flush of despondency comes over you, don’t give into it. Tell yourself that your control is within your control, and not the other way round. Resolve to do something about and start to sketch out the questions you need to ask yourself in order to achieve your goals. You should find it an empowering process. And if you decide you need a little assistance, there is plenty of professional help out there.