As we enter Q4, many of us will start to reflect on our careers -- whether because it’s annual performance review time or it’s time to goal-set for 2019.

What follows is a checklist from our book, FOCUS: Creating Career + Brand Clarity, 2nd Edition ( My co-author, @Debra Fehr Heindel, and I are sharing it because we believe that the world would be a better place if we were all happier in the work we do.

Do so by making a standing 30-minute appointment with yourself each month. (NOTE: If you move the appointment for convenience, make a note that you’ve changed it. If you move it more than 3-times, ask yourself: When am I going to make my own sustainable employability a top priority?) This checklist can be used at any point by starting with Month 1.

Month #1 - If starting a new role, pay attention to the keys to your success. If planning for the start of the new year, consider adapting these ideas to give yourself a fresh perspective on your position:
1) Learning the new role and being clear about expectations (keep up with the learning curve, listening instead of talking, operating from assumption that there is information you don’t have)
2) Gaining boss’ support (be clear about expectations and communication preferences)
3) Building strong internal coalitions (but being careful not to trust too fast until you learn the political landscape)
4) Go slow in order to go fast (be open to new ideas, owning what you don’t know in a new organization / landscape, recognizing that being new gives you latitude to ask questions no one else may be able to ask)

Month #2 - Ask yourself:
1) What are my expectations in this role? Do I have anticipated goals or milestones I’m targeting? Have projects / promotions been promised to me? Do I have a reminder in my calendar to check in about their status?
2) What’s at least one S-T-A-R-S** Story I can document this month that personifies my brand / shows where I add value?
3) Have I updated my personal webpage this month? If I’m using Twitter, is it linked? Am I tweeting quality content?

Month #3 - Be honest when you ask yourself:
1) What have I done for my own networking? Did I go to lunch with a colleague outside my work circle? Outside my function / industry? Remember, as career management expert Robin Greenspan said so eloquently, “It’s easier to network, than need-work.”
And, in a Time Magazine article by Michael Simmons, "according to multiple, peer-reviewed studies, simply being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success."
2) Have I updated LinkedIn this month? Have I posted any status updates or shared links with my contacts? Have I grown my network?

Month #4 - In terms of the time you’re committing to your career management efforts, have you:
1) Looked at any job leads lately? If you were suddenly unemployed tomorrow, are you a qualified and desirable candidate for any positions you’d be targeting? If there are gaps in your skills / expertise / training / certifications, the time to know that is now when you can actively fill that gap while you’re working.
2) Recorded at least one S-T-A-R-S Story you can document this month that personifies your personal brand / shows where you add value?

Month #5 - Managing your own sustainable employability means that you keep up with your professional development. Ask yourself:
1) What have I done for my professional development this month? What will I commit to completing by next month?
2) Have I updated my LinkedIn profile this month? Have I posted any status updates or shared links with my contacts?
3) Have I grown my network?

Month #6 - Taking into account the milestones you articulated in month #2, have you assessed your progress toward them? Ask yourself:
1) Am I on course? If yes, do I need to stretch myself further?
2) Have I met them? If so, what are new goals / objectives? If not, why have I not met them? What’s getting in the way? How can I remove those obstacles?

Month #7 - Reflecting should be a part of this process :
1) What’s the reality of the state of your role? Often times when a situation deteriorates, it happens gradually.
2) What are the market's In-Demand Skills so you can assess yourself against the market?
3) What articles or resources have you read about the state of your industry? How aware are you of the disruptors that are happening or impending?

Month #8 - Ask yourself:
1) What have I done for my own networking? Did I go to lunch with a colleague outside my work circle? Outside my function / industry?
2) What exposure have I gained in social media this month? Have I been active on LinkedIn? Are there other sites where I see other professionals in my field congregating? Have I Googled to see if there are any industry niche sites where I should have a presence?

Month #9 - Questions to ask yourself:
1) What’s one S-T-A-R-S Story I can document this month that personifies my personal branding statement?
2) Are there new emerging patterns in the S-T-A-R-S stories you have been recording? (See Chapter 6: Be a Better Storyteller).

Month #10 - Ask yourself:
1) Managing my own sustainable employability means that I keep up with my professional development. What have I done for my professional development this month? Are there any conference, trade shows, or professional networking events I can attend in person to get face-time with key industry decision makers?
2) Are there community efforts in which I could engage that would get me out and interacting with more / different people while giving something back to a cause or the community?

Month #11 - Check in with yourself:
1) What have I missed in prior months’ check-ups? Can I finish them or plan for them now?
2) What’s my pitch for networking, especially around the holidays or key life events? When someone says, “So tell me about yourself…” how will I answer? Will I respond with my title, selling the company for which I work, or will I respond with my brand to showcase who I am?

Month #12 - Conduct a year-end or cycle-end review:
1) Where did I do a good job managing my career? How do I make sure I build on that success next year?
2) How has my stress level changed this past year? Is it escalating? Where are there gaps? What will I do to close them?
3) Have I revisited the exercises in this book to either review my results or update them?

Here are some Networking Tips:
• When networking, look for people who are or can be your advocates -- in addition to your direct supervisor.
• Network outside the company / organization and outside your own industry. Expanding connections will help provide perspective and possible insight into other opportunities.
• Share best practices with contacts in similar roles in different organizations or industries as it helps to build your personal brand and demonstrates your value as a professional.

** For more on STARS Stories or for a "How to brand yourself" guide, please check out our book on