The summer slump is in full swing. Whether you’re going on vacation or just have a vacation state of mind, productivity often takes a dip during the warmer months. Just because you’re not crushing it at work doesn’t mean you can’t take steps forward. Impact coach Katie Sandler says summertime is the best time of year to focus on your career development.
“People tend to lose motivation and energy during this time of year,” says Sandler. “Often, it’s because they’re not taking enough time for themselves. The past 10 or 12 years, more companies are helping by being more flexible about summer schedules, encouraging employees to take time away so they’ll be rejuvenated and productive when they return.”
Going on vacation is one way to hit the reset button, but Sandler says there are several other things you can do to recharge your career. Here are four to consider putting on your summer schedule.
Broaden your short-term thinking
Think about your long-term goals and create an action list you can apply now or later in the year, says Sandler.
“You need to know where you’re going if you want to get there,” she says. “Get clear on your goals, wants, and needs for the future. Do they feel genuine? If they do, break them down into smaller steps and then focus on short-term goals that will get you there.”
For example, if you want to become a leader at work, determine what you need to do first. Maybe you need to build your skills or network. Create a foundation and build from there. Sometimes you have to use trial and error, says Sandler.
“There is no one-size-fits-all here,” says Sandler. “Try things on and see what works for you. Don’t get discouraged when something doesn’t; you’re one step closer to what does.”
Sandler says people can get derailed from long-term goals if they give in to distractions—and there is never a shortage. “What happens is, you’re living your life and staying focused on your immediate needs, but not always on what you need to do to get where you want to go,” she says. “If you break it down and understand why you have that goal, that can make the steps flow. This isn’t just about goals. This is your life.”
Reinforce your skills
Summer’s slower pace is a good time to sign up for classes and training sessions or even book a retreat for personal and professional transformation.
“This time of year is a great opportunity to hone a skill or learn a new one,” says Sandler. “Getting training under your belt can spark new ways of thinking that inspire you to get more involved in the workplace. People always leave retreats saying that they can’t wait to return because they feel replenished.”
Another easy way to grow your skill set is to pick up a book. “It doesn’t have to be in the self-help or career arena,” says Sandler. “A good novel can make your brain active in different manners and could help motivate you in new ways.”
Grow your network
Summer is also a good time to make new connections or strengthen existing ones. “Networking during the summer feels more relaxed,” says Sandler. “Reach out to mentors, or seek out a friend you admire and meet for a drink to discuss how they’ve developed their career.” The idea, she says, is to get outside of your own head and connect with others so you can expand your horizons.
Working long hours can take a toll on your health. Use the summer to take care of yourself. Do something different or something you don’t normally make time to do. For example, take a staycation, go to a concert, or try a different exercise class, and push yourself out of your comfort zone.
“These things can spark great creativity and output in the workplace as well,” says Sandler.
Self-care can also include addressing areas in your work and personal lives that aren’t working. Sandler suggests taking time to examine your life. If you think things are going smoothly, ask others what you could improve upon.
“Is your work output where you want it to be?” she asks. “What about relationships and your social life? Maybe there’s something you need to address?”
Summer is the perfect time to regain your focus, reenergize your attitude, and get clear on where you’re headed in the future.