Summer is a great time to slow down, relax, and dream up new ideas for your business. But all good things must come to an end. As we wind up our vacations and head toward Labor Day, many of my clients are asking: How do I keep that calm, thoughtful energy alive when I get back to work?

Of course, I also have clients who don’t feel so energized by their summer vacations. They’ve gotten used to the laid-back pace and now they’re dreading their return to work and the tighter schedules of fall.

Are you more like this second type of person? If so, read on to find out what might be the problem – and how to get back in the groove when fall arrives.

My clients and I work with the PaperRoom System™, in which we figure out your values and needs and how best to nourish them. When you don’t pay attention to your values, challenges can turn into problems. It’s easy to lose your excitement, energy, and enthusiasm for work.

Take Patricia, one of my clients. Patricia is a finance manager in a local biotech company. She recently came to her coaching session frustrated and upset.She was struggling with a huge project that had begun at the beginning of the summer and was scheduled to be completed early in the new year. But the project was a mess, and her regular tasks were suffering, too. It felt like everything was going wrong.

Patricia’s words tumbled over each other as she explained what was happening, while her breathing became shallower and shallower.

Before we went any further, I had Patricia take a few deep breaths. Then I asked her to review her top six values.

In a calmer, more relaxed manner, Patricia listed her values (which we’d previously identified through a PaperRoom exercise, so she was able to recite them off the top of her head). Among those values were connection, learning,and accomplishment.

I knew Patricia needed to take continual action in alignment with these values in order to keep a strong sense of self and feel good about her job.

“So, what are you doing at work to take care of your values?” I asked.

Oh, right, Patricia said. And then she smiled – because at that moment she realized how her nightmare project might actually be the perfect opportunity to honor her values.

* The project involved a cross-functional team of people she didn’t ordinarily work with. Patricia could work on connection by building relationships with these people.

* She’d never worked on a project of this magnitude and scope. By looking at it through the lens of learning, her enthusiasm for working on the project increased.

* Accomplishment was tougher for her to wrap her arms around. The project wouldn’t be done for another five or six months. But after thinking about it for a few minutes, Patricia decided to create a list of milestones revolving around the project. That way, she didn’t have to wait until the end to feel a sense of accomplishment. Instead, she broke the project into meaningful steps and timelines for herself, which enabled her to recognize her achievements along the way.

Not looking forward to your return to work? Here’s an exercise you can try.

1. Write down your top six values. Examples might be honesty, creativity, contribution, teaching, mastery and adventure.

2. Beside each value, write down what you do on a regular basis to attend to that value.

3. If you aren’t presently doing anything to take care of a given value, what could you do?

4. Go do it!

5. Schedule time periodically to check in with your values and give them some TLC.

Have a wonderful rest of the summer!

Author's Bio: 

Andrea Novakowski is an executive coach who has been helping clients align their professional goals with their personal values since 1997. By tapping into Coach Andrea's knowledge, tools and skills, clients are able to meld career development and personal growth to reach higher productivity and deeper levels of job and personal satisfaction. Learn more at