How to Use This Summer Strategically to Put Your Career Back on Track?

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Every time new data comes in, we continue being surprised at the low number of women in top corporate, political, and societal leadership. When we look at the root cause of this problem, we usually point at gender bias, lack of societal validation for female ambition, lack of support structures for childcare and household management, and lack of opportunities in general. While the first issues are very real, the lack of opportunity is not so much a cause in itself as it is a symptom of something even deeper.

You see, to spot opportunity one needs strategic thinking.

And to develop and deploy strategic thinking one needs to stop being buried in operations, strive to gain the upper ground, rediscover vision, and then turn all resources in the direction of bringing that vision to life.

Particularly in Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe (CESE), career-making opportunities abounded after the fall of communism in 1989 up until 2008. On this market it was often enough to be a graduate of economics and speak a bit of English to get empowered to lead a new project – or a company. The often appalling lack of managerial skills could easily hide behind seamless company growth – at the end of the day, a strong wave lifts all boats.

But the market we entered in the third decade of the 21st century is dramatically different. In this market, which focuses more on emotional intelligence and accelerated technology innovation, trying to become a member of the C-Suite without strategic thinking is… simply not possible anymore.

So, how can women develop and deploy more strategic thinking, and use this summer for intentional career management and growth?

 

  1. STOP, REST, AND RECHARGE

The summer is all about becoming ripe under the intense sun. Even nature rests, allowing the juices and essences it captured during spring to come to maturity.

The same way you are encouraged to rest. May it be for a week or four, if you want to fall on your feet and start running at the beginning of autumn you need to carve meaningful and consistent time for yourself this summer to simply stop, rest, and recharge your batteries.

 

  1. SPEND TIME ALONE

For the majority of women, summer is about kids’ holidays, barbeques, and catching up with relatives.

No wonder women then come back from the summer break more tired than when it started. Even the thought of taking a week off for oneself seems outrageous for many busy women.

But strategic thinking and clarity of vision cannot emerge when your attention is pulled in all directions by your spouse, kids, relatives, friends, neighbors, pets, and God knows who else. Time with your loved ones does help and it can replenish emotional energy.

On the other hand, if you truly want to fall on your feet on September 1s and start running in your professional life, taking a few days off ONLY FOR YOU this summer should not be such a farfetched idea.

 

  1. CLARIFY YOUR LONG-TERM VISION

If you don’t know where you are heading, it doesn’t matter which road you take. Except for the fact that you will slowly drown in a sense of lingering and lack of purpose.

This is why it is vital to take a moment and envisage your career and life long-term – that is 15 or more years from now.

Where are you heading? How do you want to work and live 10-15-20 years down the line? Whom and what do you want to serve in your future? Where do you want to live? And how can you get there faster?

When I asked these questions to several women leaders who are clients in our NEVER WALK ALONE career coaching and mentoring program, their answers were:

  1. I want to become a Senator.
  2. I want to launch my own business.
  3. I want to start a philanthropy focused on mental health for youth.
  4. I want to create a mentoring network for young women with global career ambitions.

Purpose started to speak through my clients when they dared to tap into their long-term vision. Purpose also helped them to make the first step in the direction of their ultimate goals.

 

  1. DECONSTRUCT THE WAY TO YOUR VISION

Once you have your long-term vision, it’s time to think of your mid-term and short-term strategy and action plan.

What needs to happen 5 years down the line so you know you are on the right track for your long-term vision? What do you need to have learnt / achieved to make sure you are investing your time and resources in the right direction?

What can you do now or in the next 6 to 18 months to get closer to your long term vision? What’s your concrete action plan?

 

  1. MAKE A LIST OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE THERE WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. THEN GO MEET THEM

Once you have clarity on your long, mid, and short-term vision and action steps, make a list of the people who are already doing or living the vision you desire.

Do you want to become a senator?

Make a list of 5-10 senators, then book an appointment and talk to them about their work, schedule, communications, and lives in general.

Do you want to transition from corporate into entrepreneurship?

Talk to 5-10 women who succeeded and see what price they paid for the apparent sweet freedom of entrepreneurship.

Do you want to create your own foundation, non-governmental organization, or philanthropy?

Talk to someone already involved in  such initiatives, to make sure your vision is firmly anchored in reality.

 

  1. JOIN A COMMUNITY

Now that you know the strategic direction for your future, perhaps you want to explore even more the skills and capabilities you need in order to get there.

That’s where communities come into place. In our community, THE CEO ELEVATION CIRCLE, we talk constantly about female leadership and the way to grow into the C-Suite locally, regionally, and globally.

We have created a container for a sustainable transformation of our mindset through information, education, dialogue, and strategic contacts. We encourage our members to meet, talk to each other, build stronger connections, and elevate each other on their journeys. If you are a woman leader who wants to grow in her career, THE CEO ELEVATION CIRCLE is definitely the place for you.

 

  1. NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK

It’s not enough to be part of a network; now it’s time to leverage it.

Summer is a wonderful time for formal and informal friendly coffee talks. Network as much as you can, mindfully and intentionally. Leverage all your clubs, networks, and more, to make sure you get all the resources you need to land on your feet.

As you can see, all of the steps above require strategic thinking and critical action. Paradoxically, to be able to take informed action you first need to know where you stand. Therefore, do find time to stop, rest, and recharge this summer – then gather your energy and act on your vision, so you move your career and life consciously in a good direction.

 

If you need a strategic partner for your strategic reflections, we invite you to do two things:
  1. Join us this Thursday, June 29th, for STRATEGIC SUMMER – HOW TO USE THIS SUMMER TO STOP, REST, REFLECT, ENVISAGE, AND PUT YOUR CAREER BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK - a webinar on how to use summer strategically to recharge and put your career back on track;
  2. Apply now to check if you’re a great fit for our NEVER WALK ALONE career coaching and mentoring program. Right now we offer a 20% discount on the program – and an extra 10% if you pay for the entire program upfront. The offer is available until the end of June 2023. Drop me an email at Cristina.muntean@vornica.com in case you have any questions and let’s use this summer to set your career back on the right track.

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