Spring is a time of renewal and growth. Nature understands that seasons of rebirth are vital for continued development; however, many of us can get stuck in a rut. Working the same job in the same institution for years can dull our senses and our imagination. Longevity is a gift, but we must be careful to protect against its potential downsides. Join in the season of renewal by doing some professional spring cleaning. Take an hour or two of dedicated time of reflection on the last year. Put away your phone, avoid interruptions, and ask yourself these three questions:
1. What projects gave me the greatest satisfaction? Cleaning expert Marie Kondo has made a brand—and now a successful Netflix series—out of asking people to evaluate their possessions with one question: “does it bring you joy?” It is useful to identify what you find meaningful at work. While we can’t donate the tasks that we’ve outgrown to Goodwill, understanding how you function can inform even the less enjoyable parts of your job and shape the way you approach them.
2. Where were my shortcomings? It’s uncomfortable to dwell on our failures, but for us to progress beyond them it’s essential that we do. The distance that an annual reflection gives provides helpful perspective. Consider how different practices could change your outcomes. Seek out someone who is strong in the areas where you are weak and ask for advice.
3. What avenues do I want to explore? Professional goals do not exclusively mean things inside the scope of your job for your employer. Perhaps you want to write a journal article with a colleague. Maybe you’d benefit from joining a professional organization. Give yourself space to consider how you’d like to develop.