To everything there is a season. We associate summer with warm weather, vacations, and a more relaxed work schedule. As September begins, we may be mourning the end of summer—but we can also embrace the opportunity that comes with a new season. We can use the approach of autumn to kick start the most productive stretch of the year.
Although the more leisurely rhythms of summer are part of its appeal, the downside is that we may find ourselves losing touch with the habits and routines that bring out the best in us. The end of summer is a chance to reconnect with our focus and with our purpose.
We need downtime to recharge and to remember that our work does not solely define us. However, there is no substitute for challenging experiences that test our ability and resolve. As we return to the longer workdays of September, we can cultivate a sense of gratitude for those challenges, and for the process of trying to find the best in ourselves and our employees.
Take the time to settle back into your routine. Appreciate the challenges and opportunities ahead. Pay attention to what fuels your energy and focus.
Back to school
As summer comes to an end, students return to school. Business leaders should be lifetime students—of the habits of success, of their specific industry, and themselves.
Fall is a perfect time to pick a goal that will help define the coming season and galvanize your energies. What leadership skill would you like to sharpen? In what way can you and your team step up and improve the culture of your organization?
Thinking of yourself as a student is an excellent way to cultivate beginner’s mindset—that state of mind where we let go of our preconceptions, challenge assumptions, and open ourselves to new possibilities.
Accountability keeps us on track
If you are having trouble getting back into the swing of things, do not be afraid to lean on someone for help. The odds are that your peers may be struggling with the transition from summer as well. Team up with one and share goals for the fall. Research shows that merely sharing a goal with another person make us 65% more likely to meet it—and ongoing meetings with an accountability partner increase those odds to 95%.
Now may also be an opportune time to work with a professional coach. Coaches can hold us accountable, serve as an independent sounding board, and work with us to develop new skills and habits.
Going back to our agricultural roots, fall has always been a time when we literally harvest the fruits of our labor. The new season is a perfect time to look back and assess the progress we have made on goals we set at the beginning of the year—and then strategize on how to make those goals a reality in the year’s closing months.
There is a good reason why Gretchen Rubin has suggested that September may be the new January. Reflection, renewal, and self-evaluation come naturally at this time of year.
Don’t forget summer fun
We should not be too quick to leave the fun of summer entirely in the rearview mirror. Hopefully your summer was a time to reconnect with family and friends, with nature, and with outdoor activities. Even as we as gear up for a return to a longer workweek, we have to continue to make time for activities that allow us to restore and recharge.
If you still have vacation time in the bank, make plans to use it. One survey found that only 28% of Americans plan to use all of their vacation time this year. That path leads to burnout and poor health.
Summer should be a time of renewal and play. We can bring the spirit of both into the new season, while at the same time also renewing our focus and purpose. Discipline, lightened up with the right amount of diversion, can take us into the home stretch of the year with new momentum and vitality.