Welcome to Your New Work Year
If you've grown up in the northern hemisphere, it's hard to avoid the overwhelming and somewhat nostalgic sense that early September means back to school. Summer is over, fun and freedom are packed away with the tent and it's time to get serious again. And if you have kids, well, it's really time to see if last year's uniform still fits after the summer growth spurt. The French even have a word for this special time of year 'la rentrée', perhaps as they tend to (smartly) take much of August off and go on holiday en masse.
Whenever you take your holidays, it's undeniable that September does represent something of a new work year. Nothing to do with calendar or tax years, it's different but no less key. After the holidays - where I hope you found some good time to idle about and do very little - we should all be feeling rested, recharged and ready to go again as out of offices are switched off and meeting room lights are turned on. It's a great time to reassess, reset and ramp up for the months ahead.
To do this, think again about your goals for the year. Make it easy and actionable, so just focus on the next three months. What will put a big smile on your face and create a sense of achievement by the next collective corporate taking-of-breathe AKA Christmas.
Early September is therefore a brilliant time to ask yourself some questions to either re-affirm or set out new goals for the final third of the year. But what questions to ask that will really stimulate some new thinking and allow you to be at your best as summer fades and we roll towards winter.
I take some inspiration here from a superb book that was the one and only business book I allowed myself to get distracted by in August - Be More Pirate by Simon Conniff Allende. More than a metaphor (but a brilliant one by the way), it's a roadmap to challenging the status quo around each of us and asks us all to make Good Trouble for global benefit.
Anyway, here are four good Back to Work questions for all of us to ask right now:
What's my purpose? Yep, why not start with the big one. What really gives me joy and energy and how can I match that up with making the difference I want to make?
What key projects and missions do I want to participate in? Knowing what really fires me up everyday, where am I going to put my energies now I'm fully recharged.
How can I best facilitate this? Which version of myself do I want to turn up at work (and home) everyday. What attitude and conviction can I take into all my interactions?
Who is in my network that can help me? There will be challenges and blockages along the way to any worthwhile goal. Asking for a little help or support to get great things done is the vulnerability we all need to show more of. And if I don't have that network right now, how can I go about building it?
Where to start with all of this? No time like the present. Use some of your commute time, or better still cancel that status meeting you tend to find little value in and re-deploy that hour to set out your back to work plan. And make it real - write it down, draw it, voice note it - whatever works for you. The key is to do it.
Good luck and enjoy your new reframed and energised focus for the rest of the year.