When summer ends, we often dread what’s around the corner: Catching up at work and getting kids back to school. We need to leap back into routine. But fall’s crisp air also presents opportunities for personal growth. If we make space, September can be a time to set goals and rediscover our passions.
As a business consultant, Vancouver-based life coach George Phipps encourages businesses to use September for team building, with office banter and swapping of vacation stories a good way to start the exercise. He recommends directing the energy of summer towards setting goals. “When you’ve got a whole bunch of people back from summer, they’re energized,” he says.
Re-entering fall routines also stirs our thoughts towards personal goals and passions. Phipps learned the value of setting goals after losing a 12-year company position due to budget cuts. He flew to South Africa, where he once lived, and spent two months of personal reflection on the beach. Then he returned to Vancouver with his passions aligned and a plan to pursue them. He went back to school to become a life coach. “I look forward to going to work more than I ever did in the last decade,” he says.
The point is not that we require two months on a sandy beach to truly find ourselves, but we do need to allow time for reflection. “People are so overwhelmed with what’s going on in their lives that they don’t step outside and look in,” says Phipps.
Regardless of life’s chaos, growth lies in re-framing, questioning assumptions and setting new goals. Phipps re-framed his thinking by seizing the time available. He took a bird’s-eye view of his situation and discovered opportunity. “Realign yourself with your values and find a different approach to life,” he says.
Questioning assumptions allows us to identify perceived barriers that interfere with our goals and dreams. “When we get older, we get swept into a material world of mortgage and car,” he says. But we must question our assumptions. “You assume you can’t do something because you’ve got too many financial problems,” says Phipps. “But if it’s important enough to you, you’ll make it work.” Ensure your goals are SMART: specific, measured, achievable, realistic and time based. Then work towards them.
Still, lack of motivation can creep in — especially as the weather gets colder. “The worst season for me is winter,” says Phipps. “It’s gray and dull so it’s important to stay mentally alert.” To stay mentally and physically active, he suggests joining a gym or a yoga class, taking a course, volunteering, or pursuing a new hobby. He also reminds us to nurture our relationships. “When seasons change, our relationships also feel the swing and we can get on each other’s nerves,” he says. Find activities you can enjoy together. Phipps received a window of time to realign his goals and dreams. This fall, allow yourself to dream. Pursue your goals with the same effort you used in planning that special holiday. And enjoy the journey.