The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and there is a new freshness in the air. These facts can only mean one thing – spring is here! The seasons are changing, and but chances are that’s not the only thing changing in your life or mine.
The beginning of a new job, the expansion of a business, the birth of a baby, all of these are the start of a new season. And, similar to the changes in weather, changes in life’s seasons bring a plethora of emotions – sadness, excitement, fear, and hope. Having endured many career changes in the past several years, I’ve found two tips to be particularly helpful in navigating the change curve more quickly.
#1 – Take Time to Reflect:
Write it out.
For me, this is one of the best ways to reflect on the past. Writing helps keep your thoughts focused and allows you to process more effectively. Sometimes intentionally taking the time to write out your reflections allows you to recognize and identify parts of the experience you might not have noticed otherwise. It’s a great tool to help with processing.
Recently, I wrote a blog post highlighting lessons I learned through internships. As I wrote about each experience, I was surprised by all I learned. I had never really taken the time to think back on what I gained from those work experiences, and by taking the time to reflect now, I realized how much my internships have impacted me. Writing it out forced me to focus and see what I hadn’t taken the time to see before.
You don’t have to write a blog post or even a full journal entry, but even taking the time to list out a few things can help you moving forward.
Recognize where you excelled.
It can be really encouraging to look back at your previous experiences and see the many ways you’ve grown through them, but acknowledging where you excelled can be particularly insightful. Taking time to consider these strengths can give you confidence moving forward into the unknown and can make you aware of ways you can thrive in your new role. Understanding and leveraging your strengths can be a great positive focal point as you enter uncertainty.
Identify growth areas.
It’s important, though, to have a balanced approach and also consider your weaknesses. What are some areas in which you still need to grow? I have been given the advice that your weaknesses don’t have to become your strengths, but you do need to improve them enough that they aren’t hindrances to your progress.
Don’t let this list of weaknesses discourage you, rather, view each weakness as a challenge. Push yourself to grow in these areas and be aware that they are weaknesses. And, remember to think back to how you have grown. Perhaps something that was once a weakness is no longer a problem for you. Be encouraged by that!
#2 – Move Forward with a Plan:
Now that you have these insights about your previous season of life, it is time to use them. Make a plan. Consider how the lessons you have learned are going to benefit you in the future. Come up with a strategy to utilize your strengths in your new role. Or, if you’re still looking for a new job, consider what types of jobs are going to play to your strengths. Take the lessons you have learned and let them help guide you moving forward.
One of the hardest lessons for me lately has been learning its ok to turn an opportunity down. As I approach college graduation and entering the workforce, choosing to be selective has been a very important lesson for me. I am more aware that some jobs just aren’t the right fit. I am also putting into action what I have learned about myself, my strengths, and my weaknesses. The jobs I am considering require me to use my strengths, while not being as focused on my weaknesses. The insights you gain from your time of reflection can be some of your most powerful tools as you weather the new season ahead.
Mitigate the risks.
Knowing your weaknesses can help you understand some of your greatest risks to achieving your goals. Again, use your reflections to make a plan. How are you going to keep your weaknesses from slowing you down? Come up with some action steps that will help you grow your weaknesses so they won’t hold you back anymore.
Not very confident in your social media skills? Challenge yourself to post something on social media every week. Do you struggle with procrastination? Make a to-do list with due dates to keep yourself on track. Maybe your struggle is a lack of creativity. Plan to read a fiction book every night, or work on an art project. You probably won’t become Van Gough, but you can challenge yourself to think outside the box. Consider some ways to expand your comfort zone. Doing so can open up more opportunities for you to explore.
Looking forward to a new season can also be a good reminder to look back at the old. It can be a time of long overdue reflection that uncovers insights about yourself that help you in your new role. Beginning something new is challenging and exciting. Let it be chance to utilize your strengths and bolster your weaknesses. Take time to reflect and make a plan as you enter the unfamiliar.