San Diego Union Tribune

Fall is the Time to Spring Clean Your Career

Fall is here, the air is cooling down and the days are getting shorter. It’s time to shift gears and ‘spring clean’ your career for the season.

This year instead of waiting for the New Year Resolutions, get busy now, ahead of your competition to position yourself for the best opportunities that may be coming your way.

Remember, you are your own career coach.

Make an action plan: Believe it or not, fall is a great time to evaluate your career goals and you don’t need to wait until Jan.1. Get ahead of the game. Write down the top five things you want to accomplish between now and the end of this year. Now, make your 90-day action plan. Take a hard look at the steps you need to take to assure you reach those goals. Writing a well-thought-out action plan will help keep you organized for what, who and when action is needed. At the end of each 30-day period, re-evaluate where you are and make adjustments accordingly.

Get moving: Just because your days are getting shorter, it doesn’t mean you can beg off your exercise routine. We all know that people who work out are healthier, more energetic, more productive and happier. There are so many reasons to keep up with a healthy lifestyle. Eating well and exercising will improve your stress levels, endurance and enhance your self-confidence. So think outside the box. Fall is a great time to take on a new exercise routine. Maybe instead of jogging, what about taking up yoga, fitness classes or mastering the jump rope … take the stairs instead of the elevator… and park a little further away from the door.

Update your look: You need to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. You might have toned down business casual a little too much because of warm temperatures this summer. This is the time to focus on yourself as marketing a product. You are the product. Stand out from your co-workers. It is the first thing management sees when they greet you each day. It will give you a competitive edge and improve your self-confidence in the workplace.

Professionalize your workspace: My staff is tired hearing my “An organized desk is an organized mind.” Just because your office looks like a hurricane hit it doesn’t necessarily mean you are disorganized. But it gives that impression. You may know where every paper is in each pile, but it doesn’t show well. When you clean up your workspace, your mind will not feel as bogged down as when you start your day in a mess. Take the time to organize and freshen up your space. You just might find a smile on your face when you sit down.

Network: Holiday parties and events will be upon us before you know it. This is the ideal time to make sure you attend the events that people on your action list will be attending. Yes, networking can be awkward at times, but networking is the No. 1 way to find new opportunities and meet influential people that can make a difference in your career. It is essential. Get on business associates calendars now, before the holidays make it hard. Meet the folks in accounting, marketing and sales. Reach out to a mentor you haven’t spoken to recently or tee up an additional mentor. Make it a priority to put yourself out there. And be willing to pay it forward with others too.

Fall is a good time to commit to your professional growth.

These may all be ways to help you feel better about the value you offer to your company and yourself. They are important steps to provide you with a competitive advantage toward furthering your career. They will also help you feel fresh, rejuvenated and ready to take on anything your career has in store for the rest of the year.