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… with acres of the golden wheatfields of opportunity set out before us? There’s always a keen sense of being back to a “normal” regime.

Of course, throughout our lives this time of year represents such a new start – whether it is 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 (which often coincide with this time of year).

And whilst this year it seems VERY different, the fundamentals of how we can approach this sense of a ‘fresh autumn term’ still hold true.

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:

Key 1. Goals.

Many people are telling me that over the past 18 months they have had a feeling of “creeping futility” – one of the effects of the pandemic on our outlook. The ‘threat mode’ that has become the norm prevents people looking at the long term, or even from setting goals beyond mere survival.

And yet, setting goals does create a feeling of positivity, of optimism.

Take this moment, of having a September restart, to revisit the long term, and then make firm commitments to the goals you wish 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!

Key 2. Focus.

Back after the summer break, or even longer ‘break’ for some this year (and therefore refreshed), I get the sense that so many people are ready to return to business. Many businesses view this as harvest time; a time when they are particularly productive. So it’s time to be focused to maximise the opportunity.

This is a good time to stay focused 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 build a new strong regime, be organised and go for those goals which remain for the rest of the year.

Key 3. 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.

“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.

Create a clear view of what the coming weeks are going to be about, and where your priorities are set. Regardless of the external turmoil, the best way to maximise your opportunities over the coming weeks or months is to focus on what you can control, create clarity around your goals, and develop a focused regime, a rhythm of life, that will enable you to have a great final ‘term’ of 2021.