Ahhhhh, the kids are back to school this morning and I can sit in my home office in peace and quiet for the first time in over two months. There is something about this time of year that makes it a perfect time for a fresh start. We have memories of our back to school days: new teachers, new friends, new clothes, etc. If you went to college it was a time of all sorts of life changing events.
As adults, autumn is still a time of anticipation; getting back to work after a great summer vacation, new networking opportunities, the Fall edition of Vogue so we can see the fashions for the coming season. Some take ‘adult education’ courses and are looking forward to when the new fall catalogue comes out to see what we can get into this year. If you are a parent, like me, you have the excitement of getting the kids back to school and looking forward to getting some routine back into your life and some time for yourself.
For many, the autumn buzz turns into disappointment nearly as quickly as the hope of New Year’s resolutions turn to a feeling of failure that you just couldn’t stick with it.
Last year I realized that I had a pattern of doing great things for myself over the summer: exercising, eating right, being organised so I could entertain large groups of people, etc; but when Autumn came, all of that fell to the wayside. Year after year I’d tell myself, I’d try harder to keep the good habits going straight through autumn and into winter and year after year I ran into roadblocks early into September.
A very wise woman then pointed out to me that I was trying to continue the summer pattern through the winter and that just isn’t natural and that I was setting myself up to feel like a failure. The days are shorter. The weather is different. Physically we have different needs. We feel different and need to adjust to the changes going on around us and within us.
This year I am going into autumn with a different state of mind. I am still hopefully and optimistic, but in a different way to previous years.
Milestones: changes of season, new starts, etc.; are a great time to set new goals and push toward reaching them; but unless you go with the natural flow and set your goals and plans according to the new season; you are setting yourself up to feel like a failure.
7 Ways to Ensure the Autumn “Back to Business” Buzz Doesn’t Turn to a Feeling of Failure
- Shift your schedule to suit the shorter days and time change. If you’ve been getting up early to get some work done before the kids get up, it may not be so easy now that the mornings are darker. The shorter days may mean that you just can’t get as much done, so you may need to drop some projects that aren’t key to your goals (whether business or personal goals) in order to get the relevant stuff done.
- Realign your goals to suit the shorter days and other responsibilities. Redefining your goals, even if lowering some targets, doesn’t mean that you are less successful. It means that you are being realistic and planning properly. You will feel more like a failure if you keep to the original goals and don’t meet them.
- Be right and true with your goals. Make sure that the goals you are setting are your goals and right for your business as you truly want it to be. If you are too focused on keeping up with others in your industry or people you are networking with or if you are chasing a dream that suited you years ago when your life was different; you are less likely to succeed (or be satisfied if you do) because your heart isn’t truly in the right place.
- Have realistic expectations. I’m not saying that you cannot achieve the highest possible goals; but you do need to be realistic, especially if you have limited time and resources. Don’t expect to write a blog post a day, if you really don’t have the time and have other priorities. You will just get frustrated that you aren’t achieving what you never could have done anyway. Set realistic short term goals, hit them, and then set the next set of goals that will lead you higher and higher.
- Keep in mind that some seasons are for preparation, rather than for harvest. After the late summer/early autumn harvest, it’s time to prepare the soil for the planting season next spring. You may feel frustrated that you are putting in a lot of work and not getting enough leads or sales, but you shouldn’t feel like a failure if you are making progress in the infrastructure of your business (setting up admin systems, adding content to your website, making networking contacts) that will bring more success in the future. This is especially the case in your first year of business.
- Listen to your body. If you need more sleep, don’t deprive your body of that. Different foods are in season and our bodies need more nourishment and perhaps this is the time of year that you will put on some weight. If you are fighting nature, you won’t be in the best frame of mind to focus on your work. As you get older your body may not adjust as well to the change of seasons as it has in the past and you may not realize it straight away. I’ve found the past couple of changes to and from ‘daylight savings time’ to be much more difficult to adjust to than in the past. Now that I realize I can plan accordingly.
- Keep positive. Note that the headline of this article is about a “feeling of failure” not “being a failure”. If you cannot achieve all that you thought you could, it won’t help if you fall into despair. You must keep positive and look clearly at whether the goals were realistic and what you could have done differently to reach your goals — and keep moving forward.
If you keep these 7 things in mind, you are sure to use the energy of that autumn “back to business” buzz to reach your business goals and go even further beyond them.
The 7 Day Challenge
- Start thinking now about how you feel about the upcoming change of season and how you’ve acted in the past.
- If you feel that you have not been ‘going with the flow’ of the new season, look at the 7 points above and see how you can adjust to ensure success and avoid feeling like a failure.
Do you have high expectations for the new season ahead?
Have you struggled in the past with the change of seasons?