Each year, I look forward to September as an opportunity to hit my “work-life reset button.” School is back in session, summer vacations are over, and, at Lucas Group, we’re wrapping up our fiscal year. It’s the perfect moment to take stock of where I stand personally and professionally, consider what things I want to change, and identify new growth opportunities.
For many of us, this September feels different as we continue navigating work-from-home and remote learning realities. Now, more than ever, pausing for a reset is crucial to our professional success and personal well-being. Here’s how I’m approaching mine:
Back to basics: are my daily choices helping me achieve long-term goals?
Part of my professional reset each year is reviewing my annual goal list against my performance. Did my actions each day move me closer to these goals? Where did I fall short?
One common challenge I’ve found is the temptation to focus on short-term, urgent tasks over long-term projects. The task that’s making the most “noise” gets our attention, rather than what’s most important in the long run– and we can miss the mark with our long-term goals.
Time blocking is a strategy that can help ensure there’s time in your day for both these short-term, urgent tasks and our long-term work. I set aside an hour every day to work on my “most important thing,” which corresponds with a component of a long-term goal. I hold myself accountable with a weekly and monthly check-in: are my current processes keeping me on track? If not, what needs to change?
Hitting peak productivity won’t happen every day – especially given our current remote work challenges – and that’s okay. What’s important is a willingness to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t, and make changes accordingly. As the last six months have shown us, flexibility and perseverance is essential for success.
Leveraging the right tools for success: how can I build stronger ties with my coworkers?
Tools like Zoom, Teams and Slack are now second nature for many of us, but these apps aren’t a silver bullet for solving communication and connection challenges. How we use these tools matters. This month, I’m reflecting on the importance of keeping close ties with my coworkers across the country and setting communication boundaries for a healthy work-life balance.
For example, my monthly call Accounting & Finance managers across our offices transitioned to a video call earlier this year. Seeing each other “in person” – and swapping best practices – has helped us all feel more connected than ever before. With video calls the new norm, we all have an opportunity to choose to be in direct contact with anyone no matter where they are based, and it’s on us to use this to form closer ties.
Working remotely, however, has blended the boundaries between work and life. It’s easy to wake up and immediately jump on email or continue replying to messages late into the evening. We’re falling into these habits not because there’s a work emergency, but because there is no longer a clear “start” or “end” to the workday. Healthy communication habits also require the ability to know when to log off and shift our focus back to personal needs.
How can I bring the mindset of a ‘new learner’ to my daily life?
Remember each school year when you got to try out a new class or elective? There’s a special thrill that comes with exploring a completely new activity or subject for the first time. Reawakening this passion for learning, and even bringing a “beginner’s mindset” to everyday activities, can help us think more creatively in our lives.
Not sure where to begin? Check with your manager or HR team to learn about existing opportunities for continuing education or leadership training that are available through your company. If your company does not have a formal training program, they may reimburse you for taking classes in your field.
Consider brushing up on skills that may be just outside your job description but would bring added value to a client or customer. For example, I place Accounting professionals, but I do not have a formal accounting background. Each year, I set a new goal to learn more about the latest technology and tools accountants use.
Think about what would challenge or nurture you personally. Perhaps it’s a Master Class series in photography or cooking, maybe it’s trying a new Zoom exercise class, or it could be as simple as finally making progress on your list of “must-read” books. The trick is to approach whatever you do with a beginner’s mindset: be open to learning something new and see where the experience takes you.
Are you hitting the “reset button” this fall? I invite you to share more about your approach in the comments below.