Most of us get our cars tuned-up every 30,000 miles or so -- or at least once a year. Yet many of us fail to tune-up our careers until they are stalled or worse! A good auto tune-up insures that your car continues to run smoothly, that it's getting good gas mileage and checks to prevent severe potential damage to the engine and other components.

So why not a Summer Life and Career Tune-Up -- it's about time! Don't wait until your career stalls or crashes! Be prepared for an unexpected emergency. And enjoy the ride more along the way to success.

People always say it's the journey, not the destination that matters! Well, I truly feel that most of us spend more time planning our summer vacations than we do our careers.

And that you probably would not get in your car to head off to trip to the Grand Canyon without a map or without consulting an online service for directions or asking a pal to diagram a route for your journey. Even if you have a new GPS system in your car, I bet you'll want a paper map also. A back-up plan is always valuable.

What can you do to Tune-Up Your Career? And who do you need to help you do so? Alas, there is no way to plug your career into an auto-check robotic system like they do with your car at the mechanic these days.

Nope, we're not robots -- at least not yet! But here are 4 steps you can follow to check up on your career and be tuned up and ready to go zooming ahead.

1) Make sure you have 3 months savings in the bank or at ready access that will cover your monthly expenditures. Even if you have disability insurance (which many people don't) you'll need to be prepared for any emergency. Summer is a great time to supplement that account with a little extra income. Consider having a yard sale.

Clean out the books on your shelves and sell them. Or check in your closets to see if there is outdated clothing or even in your living room and home office to see what you can sell on eBay!

Even a few extra hundreds of dollars will start that account growing again. Planning on using any extra money for vacation? Consider swapping houses or bartering for your vacation plans.

2) Recharge your batteries. Just like your car may need battery recharging -- or maybe even a new battery, you need to take some time off to play and have fun! Can't afford a vacation -- set up an outdoor beach at home. Bring in some sand from the local nursery, paint up an old swing set. Add a water-slide or an above-ground pool and a brightly colored beach umbrella. Most of this stuff goes on sale after July 4th so it's a good time to get stuff at 1/2price. Can't afford it. Check your local classifieds or register on one of the services that offers FREE STUFF online. Many people are using these services to recycle stuff they no longer want especially if they are moving or just bought new stuff. And surprisingly all they want is for you to haul their old stuff away!

3) Armchair travel to a new career. Always wondered what it would be like to pilot your own sailboat? Or what about becoming a mountain climber. The answers are as near as your public library which allow you to take out all kinds of adventure books, CDs and even audio books on these topics. Many libraries even circulate magazines on special interests if you can't afford the $5.95 to buy a new copy of SAILING magazine. Ahoy mate....your library card is your ticket to adventure

4) Test drive a new career. The start of each season, summer, fall, winter, spring is the perfect time to 'test-drive' a new career. More and more companies are giving employees Friday afternoons off and many teachers now take their summers off instead of teaching summer school. So if you're one of these fortunate people, you may be able to use your free time to test drive your new career. I've even had clients who have used their 2 weeks vacation to test-drive a new job. Temp jobs and freelance services like allow more flexibility for you to try out a new career or job without jeopardizing what you have.

5) Make a Career or Life Vision Board -- taking pictures from magazines or actually picturing yourself in a new environment. Show a picture of you hiking to encourage you to do it more or have someone photo you in a new convertible that you'd love to own -- even if they do it on the dealer's lot!

Joyce Schwarz is the author of six books on life, careers and the future. She is also the author of more than 200 articles on creating the lifestyle of your dreams. You can read more about her and her book THE VISION BOARD at

Author's Bio: 

Joyce Schwarz is a reknown Hollywood career strategist and new product and company launch advisor. She runs JCOM, an emerging media & technology firm in Marina Del Rey, CA. She is a paid public speaker and just returned from speaking in South and Latin America and is the keynote speaker at many of the Body Mind Spirit Expos including San Diego and Portland, orgon