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We’ve been out of school for longer than we’d like to admit, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still see the end of the summer as a time to regroup and refocus, regardless of our non-student status. The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin aptly summarizes this feeling as follows: “January is the official start of the new year, and I always get a burst of renewed zeal at that time, but September also gives the same feeling of an empty calendar and a clean slate. The air seems charged with possibility and renewal.” While it’s hard to let go of summer’s more hedonistic vibe, the early weeks of fall can be an ideal time to look back on the intentions you set for the year way back in January and—after having a panic attack about how few of them have been realized—double down on making things happen the way you dreamed they would in a NYE-hangover haze. Here, seven ways to make September your second-chance January.
Though we're still knee-deep in 2017, we think it might be beneficial to have an idea of where you're going longer term before attacking the short-term future. If, for example, you want to be engaged in 2018, that realization may affect the goals you set for the rest of 2017. Doing this creative exercise first thing in September might help you narrow your focus for the rest of the year, providing you with some much-needed clarity before you dig into the next step on this list.
Oy. We accomplished exactly zero of the things we told ourselves we would back in January. There's still time, however, which is why September is the perfect opportunity to reevaluate those goals and your progress toward them. If you, like us, have made little or no headway, it may be wise to revise your resolutions to be more realistic. For example, if in January you resolved to work on the next great American novel five nights a week in 2017 and instead worked on it once in eight months, you might want to tell yourself that starting in September, you will aim instead to work on the book just one night per week for the rest of the year.
For best results, keep goals to a maximum of three and make sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely (SMART). If your goals are big—as with the book example—make sure to divide them into smaller, deadline-oriented bite-size chunks. You may also want to find yourself an accountability partner, someone who will check in to make sure you've done what you said you would, on a regular basis.
According to research, writing down your goals increases your chances of achieving them by 44 percent. That's huge! So, once you've determined which goals you want to achieve between September and the year's end, jot them into a journal, stick them onto the fridge or email them to a friend or family member. Crazy but true: Sharing your goals increases your chances of success at them by 78 percent.
It's hard to even think about Thanksgiving, New Year's Eve and other travel plans while you're still enjoying your summer vacation, but it's also the second most cost-efficient time to do so. According to Travel & Leisure, the week of September 12 is the optimal time to book your ticket for Thanksgiving unless you want to risk waiting to book until after October 31, at which point you'll hypothetically save even more money. Whichever course you choose, just note that you do not want to book in October.
When it comes to your December travel plans, the week of Thanksgiving is, according to Conde Nast Traveler, the best time to book. For the best New Year's deals, wait until the week of December 5 if you're feeling brave and/or spontaneous. Oh, and don't forget—you should use all of your vacation days! Every last one. Here, four science-backed reasons vacation is good for your health.
According to Prevention.com, September tends to be a relatively quiet time in doctors' offices, as kids have returned to school. You'll want to use up your benefits for the year and/or flex spending account, but if you wait too long into the fall you'll be competing for appointments with everyone else who did the same.
Though many of us just blew a bunch of money on summer vacations, the most expensive time of year is still to come. How will you afford to pay for the end-of-year vacations? Now is a good time to sit down and figure it out, especially as tickets will need to be booked soon. Now is also the perfect time to dig into our plan for saving $1,000 or more in just three months, so you can have some holiday spending money stashed away by December 1.
September and October are fertile months in nearly every business—people kick back into work mode, hard—but things start to die down in November and die out entirely in December. That is why now is the time to reach out to your contacts to touch base or set meetings, particularly if you think you might want to switch jobs in the new year. Come January, everyone will be busy, everyone will be trying to get meetings with the people you want to get meetings with, and it will take longer to make headway toward your career goals than it would if you had begun the networking process now. Think of this next month or two as a seed-planting period, which will grow into opportunity in early 2018 and enable you to start the year fielding endeavors rather than seeking them out.