Can you believe that it’s already the end of August?
It feels like just a couple of weeks ago that we were doing your mid-year review, and now it’s almost Labor Day weekend and the unofficial end of summer.
We hope you had an amazing summer! Maybe you accomplished some smaller goals with your lighter work schedule, or maybe you challenged yourself to get out of your comfort zone and try activities like hiking or making art.
But now you’re probably sensing that things are shifting back to the normal routine — in fact, your company may be ramping up for a big end-of-year push or holiday retail sales.
So how can you transition from the relaxing, slow pace of summer and hit the ground running as work gets up to speed for fall? You don’t want to fall behind and end up playing catchup through the end of the year.
How amazing would it feel to wow everyone and get a big win right away this fall?
Read on for our best tips to help you restart your momentum to be a superstar for the rest of the year.
Review your personal and team goals for the year
The best way to make a big impact is to work on the things that matter most.
So what is most important for you to accomplish this year? Look back at your Yearly Theme and the goals that you wanted to accomplish. Where have you made progress so far? What remains to be done?
It’s important, too, to check in with your goals at work to make sure you are still on track with where your team is heading.
It is very possible that your team’s goals may have shifted or evolved over the summer months. If you don’t already do a weekly check-in with your manager, make a point to get something on the books for the next week or two.
In your meeting, ask them what they think it is most important for you to be working on and accomplishing. You can ask things like:
- What are the biggest goals for our team for the rest of the year?
- What tasks are most important for me to work on first?
- Are there any goals that have changed or pushed to the back burner?
- Are there important deadlines coming up that I should be aware of?
- Are there places where you need to hear status updates from me more often? How often? What is the best way to communicate those to you?
Some people resist asking these kinds of questions because they are afraid it makes them look like they don’t know what they should be doing.
However, any good manager will appreciate that you are interested in contributing in the most impactful way possible. After all, that is what you are there to do. The chance to outline exactly how you can help THEM be most successful by helping them team be more successful is something that any manager would be happy to have!
Of course, you don’t want to show up clueless. If you’re afraid that asking open-ended questions about goals might not work for you or your boss, you can try phrasing things differently:
- Instead of asking “What is most important to work on?”
- Ask: “Based on my notes from our last meetings, the most important goals for our team for the rest of the year are ___, ___, and ___. Is this still accurate? Have things changed? Should I adjust my priorities?”
Reflect on areas where you often struggle to succeed & make a plan
For most of us, the things that hold us back at work are really consistent. Maybe it’s always doing things at the last minute or becoming frustrated and cranky when things get busy.
It’s unlikely you’ve developed a brand new bad habit. Instead, the things that you will struggle with this fall are the probably same things you struggled with last fall.
Take some time to reflect on what has been going well for you and where things don’t feel so good. Write them down in your planner (this can be a journal entry or just a simple list) so that you have a record of these ideas — writing also helps to you lock in your ideas so that they really stick with you.
Once you know where you consistently struggle, start brainstorming solutions now before the problems start.
For example, if you consistently procrastinate and end up doing things at the last minute, think about how you can make it harder for yourself to put things off and more rewarding to do things early. You might list:
- Communicate openly about deadlines with your team to create accountability
- Break down big projects as they are assigned, so you can clearly see the real number of steps it will take to accomplish
- Reward yourself for early project completion
- Stop working at night so that you have to better utilize your daytime hours
As you create steps to help yourself avoid problems, record these in your planner too so that you can refer back in the moment. (Creating new habits is usually easier in theory than in practice, so reminding yourself often is key!)
Plan your days more effectively
If you’ve been enjoying lazy summer Fridays and early departures from the office, then it can be hard to snap back into gear for the fall.
Instead of simply trying to force the change back into serious work mode, this is a perfect opportunity to get really strategic about planning your days for the next few months.
If you don’t yet do a weekly ninja planning session, this is the time to start!
Every week (we love Sunday night for this, but you could do it Friday afternoon or Monday morning), set aside some time to look at your biggest priorities for the week. What is the most important thing for you to accomplish? What meetings/calls are on your schedule?
Now, look at your days. How will you structure days that make you successful?
Break down your biggest priorities for the week and spread them across the days. Be careful to UNDER-estimate how much you can do every day. It is easy to find things to fill extra time if you have it — it’s much harder to catch up if you fall behind.
Think about where your energy goes every day, too. Most people are their best productive selves at some point in the morning; in the afternoon, energy dips. Take this into account as you plan your days.
Block off big chunks of time for your high energy, creative work on your biggest priorities. When you have less energy, plan to do a few of the admin tasks that have to get done but that don’t take all of your bandwidth to do.
Look for opportunities where you will shine
It’s awesome to hit the ground running; it’s even better to take this opportunity to level yourself up as a superstar on your team.
- Do people think of you as a leader?
- Are you someone who your boss would consider indispensable?
- Do you have a place where you shine brighter than anyone else?
Now is your opportunity to make the answer to those questions into a YES.
We know so many people who are amazing at what they do, but who don’t get credit for the long hours they put in or extra attention to detail they provide.
So what is the deal? Why do some people stand out, while other people — many of whom work just as hard or harder — can’t seem to get attention?
It is all about understanding what matters, and then making sure the influencers on your team see you as a person adding tons of value to those things that matter most.
So how can you make a plan to stand out and shine? Here are a few ideas.
- Become an idea person. For most people, it actually takes a lot of practice to get good at having good ideas. Try training yourself to get better at brainstorming. In your normal life, start coming up with 5-10 possible solutions for simple problems like a clogged drain. By forcing your brain to practice looking at problems from different angles in order to create this many solutions, you’ll get better at doing this in higher stakes situations like meetings at work. When you are the person contributing great ideas, or helping other people’s ideas get to the next level, then you are more likely to get ownership over those solutions so that you can make a visible impact by implementing your ideas.
- Take a visible role in meetings. Note: this does not mean to start talking more just to hear your own voice! Instead, focus on things like being extra prepared to contribute in one part of each meeting. Or, if you aren’t sure how to contribute, try being the person who records notes on the whiteboard or who asks smart questions that keep the conversation on track. These are subtle moves that actually have a big impact because you add concrete value to the leader and the whole group.
- Invest in the people around you. Being liked by the people you work with is about more than being popular; it can make you much more successful too. Think about it: wouldn’t you be more likely to support someone you consider a friend than someone you don’t really know? The more allies you have, the more power your ideas have. Plus, investing in relationships — especially with the people you admire on your team — will help you be smarter and more successful in the long run. By having regular conversations with smart people who are going places, you’ll learn how they think. Make it your mission to truly connect with the superstars on your team this September, by taking them to coffee/lunch/whatever and learning more about who they are.
How will you become the superstar you want to be?
We are so excited for you to kick off the last few months of this year and make a huge impact as your most amazing self. What goals do you want to accomplish? How will you get there?