While January 1 has long been the popular time to set resolutions and goals, there may be another contender for best goal-setting season: September. As summer draws to a close and the school year gets into full swing, the ninth month of the year is full of promise.
“I sometimes find myself accidentally calling this time of year ‘the new year,’ because it has the sense of starting fresh and beginning again,” says motivational speaker Gabrielle Bernstein, best-selling author of May Cause Miracles: A Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Changes and Unlimited Happiness.
Here are six reasons why you might want to start planning your next big thing right now.
From the time you were little, early September signaled the start of a new year, says investor and “personal-disruption expert” Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work.
It was a time of rising up to the next grade level and meeting new challenges. Chances are you went shopping for new supplies and mentally prepped in the weeks before the year began—pretty much the same mind-set you need to set new goals effectively.
“We’re programmed from the time that we’re very, very young to think about September as the start of a new year, emotionally and psychologically,” says Johnson. “In August, you’re reviewing, ‘What do I want to get done this year in school? How do I want to do?’ So, September, in some ways, is really the start of the year for most people.”
The lazy days of summer are over, and September brings new energy as people begin to focus on what needs to get done before the end of the year, says Shauna Mackenzie, founder of Best Kept Self, an online self-care platform for entrepreneurs. September sees more business-focused goal setting than what typically happens in January, and it also gives the benefit of eight months of insight from the current year, she says.
“If we looked at September to proactively set goals with all this knowledge we bring to the table from the past eight months and use it as an opportunity to not react but instead create, we regain some of that power we psychologically feel we lose in the scramble of the fourth quarter,” she says.
At the same time that we have all this momentum and conditioning to set new goals, we’re not being bombarded by messages and societal pressure telling us what those goals and resolutions should be, Bernstein says. You can take time to focus on what you really need to get done—and not what others are telling you to do, she says.
Sometimes, you need advice and input to set resolutions and begin working towards them. You can try to find that in the weeks leading up to January 1, but it can be tough to get people to focus on giving you feedback on and making you accountable for your new goals when they’re focused on vacations and holiday parties, Johnson says. While you may be working around some late-summer vacations, chances are you’re going to have more access to the people you need this time of year.
Setting goals in September—especially financial goals—lets you make moves that can have true financial impact before the end of the calendar year. That could include making financial decisions about investing, tax planning, or other issues that need to be transacted before December 31 to count for the current calendar year.
Start working on your goals in September, and not only will you free yourself of the pressure to set resolutions at the new year, but you may even have some impressive results to show by then.
“You can think of December as a fresh start, and then slide into January ahead of the game,” Mackenzie says.