By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

Your suitcase is packed, sunscreen is purchased and your laptop has been turned off for vacation.

Summer has officially hit.

Wait right there…it might be tempting to completely check out from your career during the summer. But instead, use this time as a chance to advance your career not let it fall behind

I am not saying to unpack the suitcase, a much-needed break is likely in order. But it is possible to enjoy your free time while also reaching your goals. Here are three ways you can use a summer slow down season to get ahead in your career.  

1. Review your year and learn where you can grow.

Since you are officially halfway through the year, summer is the perfect time to check in and take stock of where you stand with your goals.

Have a personal goal setting review the next time you sit down to relax at the beach or a sunny park. Think back on your accomplishments, struggles, and lessons learned from the year to date. Take the time to hand write your goals onto paper. I know it sounds old fashioned, but science shows handwriting helps improve your long term memory and retention as opposed to typing. You don’t want to forget your goals.

Successful people set specific and measurable goals, so take the time to craft targets that meet both your long term and short term vision in an achievable way. Research found that by following this method of goal setting you are 90% more likely to reach your goals.

2. Use the summer social calendar to build connections.

The slow down in summer creates a great opportunity to up your social calendar. Attend all those networking events you wished you could go to, but couldn’t previously because you were swamped with work demands. Don’t beat yourself up about this, because 41% of people report wanting to network but feeling they don’t have enough time.

Many companies host happy hours or onsite events during the summer months to keep employees engaged. If you normally stay seated at your desk during this time, mix things up and go mingle with coworkers.

Build relationships now to improve your work environment and set yourself up for future career options. The overwelling majority of jobs are never posted, they are filled through known connections and networking.

If you manage a client list or are hoping to build your business, host a networking event of your own and show your appreciation for all your past and future clients. Nothing says thank you like a cold cocktail with an umbrella in it (non-alcoholic versions available as well) on a hot summer day!

3. Allow yourself to relax.

Once your goals are in check, and you have nurtured your community, take some time for yourself. It can be very difficult for a dedicated person to take time off, but if you want long term success you need to take rest and rejuvenation very seriously.

Chronic sleep deprivation and stress lead to long term neurological depletion and a reduction in clearing out toxins from the body. What this means is, if you want to be creative, healthy and successful, take time now to really rest and recover.

Book that trip with your friends or family or go on a solo vacation. Want to save money this summer? Then enjoy a staycation where you totally unplug from your working life. If even the thought of doing this causes stress, take steps ahead of time to so you can step away from work without guilt.  

Use the likely slow season of the summer to recharge yourself, connect and prepare for the rest of the year. Take a step back so you can take leaps forward!

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.