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September is the New January—What are you waiting for?

My favorite aisle in Target is the school supply aisle.

It started as a little girl—every August we’d come in from the mugginess that was late Iowa summers through the cool woosh of that distinctly Target air-conditioning. The kiosk near the front would have colored sheets with each school, grade, and teacher’s specific supply requests. I’d walk into that aisle, dazzled by the sense of fresh possibility made tangible with each item.

Pristine-tipped colored pencils lined up awaiting my creativity. An array of folders ready to hold my homework assignments, (cats and Lisa Frank were preferable). Even the mundane items like erasers and notebooks felt exciting, their smell reminding me of the classrooms I was about to spend my days in.

Later, in the privacy of my bedroom, I’d carefully remove all the cellophane and tags, splaying out my new purchases on the floor. As I’d arrange and rearrange the supplies into my Space Saver, I’d feel a pang of loss for the long unhurried days of bare feet and backyards. At the same time—and I would never have admitted it out loud—something in me welcomed the end of summer. The routine and responsibility of the upcoming school year felt like a fresh start.

All these years later, September still brings that sense of new beginnings and creative possibility. Summer was glorious—don’t get me wrong. I relished the long days and camping trips and less hurried rhythm. But the other day, while running errands at Target, I was drawn to the back-to-school section, picking up planners and glancing through the pen selection for old times sake. And the sight of my neighbor’s tree tips starting to turn orange the other day filled me with giddy anticipation.

Fall is coming.

And with that, a renewed desire to begin again, to re-engage with the goals I had so earnestly set out to accomplish at the beginning of the year.

January is typically seen as the ideal time to start fresh with our goals and ambitions. And I’m all about that intentional reflection at the transition between one year and the next. In fact, I have a much-loved ritual around that liminal week between Christmas and the New Year.

But here’s the thing—September offers that same promise of newness, just without the gloom of winter or the post-exhaustion of the holidays. Many behavior psychologists and self-help gurus have identified the same clean-slate momentum of September. Some even argue it’s a better New Year than the early January season.

So what about you? Are you feeling that blank-slate energy this year too? Or—maybe you’re simply longing for it even more than usual, with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g going on in the world right now. If the signals of autumn have you wanting to recalibrate, here are some guiding questions to help you hit the reset button.

What’s working well right now?

Think back over the last few months. What habits, routines, activities, people, or revenue streams have been bringing you joy? What aspects of your days are life-giving? Which of your efforts feel most effective right now? Take stock of what elements of your life are working well, and brainstorm ways to double down on those things.

Where am I feeling drained?

I find that my body is the first to speak the truth. Certain habits, routines, activities, people, or revenue streams leave me feeling drained, exhausted, or ill at ease. I don’t mean the kind of tired that comes from hard work or striving for excellence. It’s more of a subtle shift in my mood or feeling in my gut. What interactions or activities do you walk away from feeling exhausted on a soul level? What habits are you turning to, even though they don’t actually help you live in line with your goals? Start by noticing how these things are impacting you, and consider how you can set boundaries to renegotiate how you approach the things that leave you feeling drained.

What do I still want to accomplish this year?

Think back to the beginning of 2021. What were your aspirations for this year? How’s that going? Don’t be too hard on yourself if you didn’t stick with that New Years Resolution. The wild ride that has been these last two years has made it exponentially more difficult to stay motivated and on track with personal or professional goals. And yet—it’s only September. This stretch of time between now and the holidays could be the ideal time to get back on track with the aspirations you had for this year. Imagine yourself on December 31, 2021—where do you want to be, and what do you want to say you accomplished by then?

What am I waiting for?

One of my goals at the beginning of the year was to grow my marketing consultancy into a marketing agency this year. I spent time throughout the spring outlining my strategy to bring on more employees, increase my marketing efforts, and scale. While I had been taking baby steps in this direction, I was mostly staying within my comfort zone, afraid to take the risky steps I knew I needed to take.

Then, on a backpacking trip this summer, away from the noise and distractions, this question echoed in my brain—what am I waiting for? Zero risk? Permission? For the world to stop falling apart? What would happen if I started taking the steps I knew I needed to take, risks and all? What if I started trusting my intuition more? What if I stopped waiting and started acting?

Sometimes this powerful question is a rhetorical way to shake us out of our comfort zones, the green light we didn’t know we were waiting for. Other times, this important question has tangible answers. We may need to wait for a difficult situation to pass first. We may need to save up some reserves of money, energy, or knowledge. We may need to be patient a little while longer.

Here’s the thing—I know September means your schedule is likely picking back up. Meetings are starting to crowd your calendar. Fall activities are beginning. Your workload isn’t getting any lighter.

But I’m inviting you to carve out some time in the next few weeks to sit with these questions.

Illuminated Actions

Step 1: Find an hour or two where you can escape with a journal and some quiet time, and block it off in your calendar. Fall-scented candles and cider are not required but highly encouraged.

Step 2: Download my Recalibrate Guide, a free resource that guides you through the process of reflecting on where you’re at and reconnects you to what matters most.

Step 3: Book a Goal Setting Session with me. Sometimes it’s really helpful to process where you’re at and brainstorm where you’d like to head with someone else! In this one-off coaching session, we’ll delve into a process that helps you connect with your intentions and walk away with tangible steps to take that help you realign with your goals.

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