The summer is finally here and whether or not you have the opportunity to get away this season, you may likely experience a slowdown in your workload and schedules. Last year we spoke about ways to relax and let go, but this season I want to share ideas about how to get strategic, professionally and personally, and in doing so, optimize your “come-back” in September.
When the pace of our work life slows down, we finally have the time and space to reflect on our progress, revise our priorities, and open our perspectives all around. This can be a fantastic time to check-in with yourself, your people, and your vision for where you want to go and who you want to be.
But what does it mean to be “strategic”?
Our strategy is our “higher map” for fulfilling our vision, personally and/or professionally. It is guided by our objectives and in turn, feeds the plans and tasks we construct towards completing them.
Being “strategic” is a way of thinking and acting that reflects a continuous mindfulness of what is most important, allowing us to focus our best efforts towards actions that will yield the most effective results. It includes the following:
- Having and maintaining a clear vision and detailed objectives about whatever it is that you are trying to achieve. Example:
- Vision: I want a job that makes me happy.
- Objectives: This job will be (1) challenging, (2) well-paid, (3) allow me to learn and grow in the company, (4) work in a positive, open environment, (5) have a respectful boss that will be a good mentor and (6) a decent work-life balance.
- Continually revising, adjusting, and refining your vision, strategy, objectives, plans, and efforts to accommodate necessary changes and optimize your chances for success. Example:
- First you think you want a job in HR -> later you realize that what you really want is to work with people regardless of the industry -> you decide that your best option are management roles -> in Australia where you surprisingly get a new opportunity!
- Prioritizing your work, time, and energy towards accomplishing the most impactful steps that have the highest potential of advancing your goals. Example:
- Beginning your day/week/quarter organizing your work.
- Instead of endlessly pounding away at busywork (standard email) or “fire drill” emergencies (dramatic but low-level trouble-shooting) you focus your best energy on “big win” projects (like writing that valuable dossier that will allow you to reach a higher-quality client base).
- Proactively searching for, connecting with, and cultivating contacts and resources that can help you progress. Example:
- You run a series of intelligent searches of Contacts, Groups, and Companies in LinkedIn reflecting your Target Clients or Ideal Employer and begin developing a relationship with them.
- Understanding your preferences and habits and listening to your body to help you be optimally productive, creative, and effective, while taking care of your well-being. Example:
- You recognize that your focus and motivation are low so instead of forcing your work, you take a nice break and come back later to finish what you need in half the time.
How to be Strategic this summer?
But being strategic is not always about intentionally controlling your focus and efforts. Sometimes it’s about allowing for open opportunities that may bring you the kind of inspiration and leads that you could not have anticipated. So if you find yourself with extra time this season, here are some ways to use it to your advantage (other than some fabulous vacationing, of course…):
- Create space for the spontaneous
- Instead of launching into your usual routines and “to-do’s”, release yourself to open moments of “nothingness” – which is to say moments without an objective that allow you to simply absorb the present, your surroundings, and whatever may come as a result.
- Explore + play + explode your creativity
- Take some time to freely search for, navigate, read, and experiment with your interests, personally and professionally, as well as any resources that can help develop your ideas and next steps.
- Try new ways of doing things with full permission to view the results with curiosity instead of judgment.
- New scenery + new activities + new friends
- “New” breaks us out of the “old”, which is to say our usual habits of thought and the emotions that they create. When you first change these basics you open up the floodgates for inspiration. So go to new places, meet new people, and engage in new activities.
- Reflect on what’s important
- Ask yourself the right questions
- How do I feel lately – in general and about specific things?
- Where and how am I struggling to be truly “ME”?
- How are things progressing in my life?
- What is making me happy these days?
- What is causing me frustration, pain, discomfort, anxiety, etc.?
- Where and how can I get help and support in what I need and want to do?
- What am I not saying or asking myself and others?
- What’s the one thing that if I changed, would create the most positive impact for me?
- Talk out loud – to yourself and others
- Voicing your thoughts can greatly help organize them and clarify your emotions.
- Write without censure and/or draw
- Carry a notebook and insist on capturing anything that comes to you.
- Make lists of your priorities, key opportunities, strategic next steps, crazy ideas…anything!
- What do I want to get out of this summer?
- What do I want to have ready for September?
- Revise your “game plan”
- Analyze and evaluate the way you have been going about things – a job, a project, a situation, a relationship, etc. – and keeping in mind the previous points, openly explore who you really want to be and how to be most effective, within them.
- Do the work that needs your full attention
- Our usual routines may not give us enough concentrated time to complete certain valuable tasks. So this is a great moment to design professional material (presentations, programs, campaigns, products, etc.) and advance certain initiatives.
- Recharge your batteries
- Now is the season to give yourself a break. To listen to your mind, body, heart, and spirit and get the rest, relaxation and adventure that you have been craving. This will be one of the best ways to ensure that when you return to the full force demands in September, along with everyone else, you will be fully refreshed to give your absolute best.
Please share with us your thoughts! We always love to hear from you.
And go out and have a fabulous summer!