The beginning of September is one of my favourite times of the year… and for me has always held a particular significance. Isn’t it something deep in our psyche about this time of year that makes us ready for a “new start”, a new term, perhaps a new harvest? There’s a keen sense of being back to a “normal” regime. This appears to ring true for many people I’ve spoken to recently.
Of course, throughout our lives this time of year represents such a new start – whether it’s the start of school at the age of 4 or 5, and subsequent restarts every academic year, or the start of college/ university, or even the start of new jobs and careers which often coincide with this time of year too.
The challenge, of course, is that the summer months can feel a disjointed period in business terms. And returning in September, once the holiday period is at an end, many people simply jump back in to ‘business as usual’ and before you know it, the sense of a restart, a new beginning, is lost.
It is important therefore, before jumping back headlong into the chaos, to capture the mood of the new term and use it to set a foundation for the rest of the year, and beyond.
A new term: getting back on form
So, how to make the most of this mood? There are 3 keys to getting back on form and creating the platform for an effective autumn term.
- Goals – revisit the long-term goals, the vision, and then make firm commitments to goals to achieve by the end of the calendar year. This is a logical, clearly identifiable, specific timescale embedded in our psyche… easy to set as a point for measuring and monitoring progress. It’s sufficient time to achieve something significant, and yet short enough to inject the urgency required to actually get cracking!
- Focus – Back after the summer break (and therefore refreshed), we are ready to return to business. Many businesses view this as harvest time; a time when they are particularly productive, and the market is buoyant. So it’s time to be focused to maximise the opportunity. Set some fresh groundrules around working practices and patterns, around performance expectations and standards. even if you’re a one-man-band, there’s merit in getting clarity around your work patterns and systems.
This is a good time to create that focus because it’s a clear run to Christmas, largely uncluttered by Monday holidays or any significant disruption to the pattern of life and business. Summer holidays are behind us, and Christmas is still far enough away that no one is yet thinking of it (I hope!). It feels like a solid period where we can be focused, build a new strong regime, be organised and go for those goals which remain for the rest of the year.
- Plan your regime –Since we are equating it to the start of a “new term”, why not draw up an outline timetable to ensure that these new, fresh goals and points of focus can be fitted into the week. Get organised to succeed. Don’t just let the feeling of new term wither on the vine and find you are back to the old drudgery within a couple of weeks.
And this is not just about business performance. On the personal front, it’s a chance to work off summer excesses! With it being still relatively calm, weather-wise, and with the evenings still light, I see people out and about on fitness kicks and so on. It’s a time for doing those night-classes, starting up hobbies, and generally filling life with all the great stuff.
All of this is underpinned by a freshening up of the Success Mindset, with renewed high spirit.
“Sorting out your pencil case”
…was the way one of my long-term clients described getting back to business in September. And, as we have seen, there’s more to it than simply getting organised.
The whole process of re-setting can take a full day (or even longer) and that’s what puts many people off, and they end up simply defaulting back to habit.
It’s also a very powerful stimulus for the business mindset to have such a transition day, to allow you to feel on top of the game again, have a clear view of what the coming weeks are going to be about, and where your priorities are set. In so doing, you might at first feel as if you are a day behind, but your effectiveness will increase and you’ll soon “overtake” those who simply jumped back into the chaos.