With the school year finishing, and everyone disappearing off on holiday, you'll probably be thinking more about the long summer ahead than how you can get yourself back to work. However, our advice is not to wait until September to get started. There are a variety of simple ways in which you you can lay strong foundations now - while taking a much-needed break - so you'll be able to use your time more productively when the holidays end*:
Create a network mapEven if you aren't ready to start networking, it is never too early to start creating your network map. Divide your map into three distinct categories on which you list everyone you can think of from different phases of your life: people from your past (your school and university classmates as well as former employers, colleagues and employees); your present (fellow parents and people you meet through voluntary work, hobbies or neighbourhood); and future (networks and groups you have yet to join). This is the kind of activity you can do all summer long, adding names as you think of them. Even if you start by thinking that you don't have a network, you'll be surprised how your map grows.
Get clearer about what will fulfill you and what you might do next
Whether you have too many choices or too few, a useful way to think about what to do next is to think back to a work role, or part of a role, that you found fulfilling and reflect on what made it so (see this post for a process to uncover more about what gives you fulfillment). As these factors are related to your strengths and values, they will continue to be of great importance to you in the future. By working out what's important to you, you'll gain motivation to search for your next role. And you can identify clues about what you want to do next: you might want to get right back to your old field, there might be elements of a previous role that you can craft into a new one or you may get an idea for a business or it might highlight a desire to retrain in a new area.
Practise your story
If you are going away somewhere and meeting new people that you are unlikely to see again, this provides a low risk way to practice telling your story. You can test out and refine an answer to the dreaded question of ‘what do you do?’, including your past work experience and what you want to do in the future as well as what you're doing right now.
Prepare your family
If you're a parent, the summer is a great time to make changes to the family routines and responsibilities away from the hectic schedule of the school year. If you're hoping to go back to work, you'll need to prepare your family for the changes that will be required of them. For younger children, this might be a new kind of after school care or route to school. For older children, you might want them to start taking responsibility for organising their sports kit, making their own packed lunches or doing laundry. You'll know best what adjustments you will need your family to make, to support your return to work, and the more preparation they have the easier it will be. Read our posts on combating guilt feelings if these get in the way of making the changes that will help you.
Have a great summer. We're taking a summer blogging break and will be back in a month's time.
* Ideas adapted from an earlier post by Katerina