A thought for September

September already. Where did that summer go?  It seems to me that autumn is already here. The Met office says it starts on 1 September, but my garden has thought it for a while – leaves have died early, and the ground is covered in autumn debris. There is that lovely nip in the air first thing in the morning and the world feels fresh each day. A charity dared to mention the word Christmas to me and I have just bought my 2019 diary. 2018 is rushing headlong to its end!

This is the week when most of us change our routines. Have you a child going to a new school or into a new class, starting to work for exams or even off to university or college? If you have you may be acutely conscious of how things are changing. It is so much more than new shoes and new timetables. We watch our children change their objectives and their focus (whether they want to or not). Ambitions may become clearer and timescales certainly do. We try to support all this and add in our learnings and wisdom.

We may also be around those starting their first major job. Do you remember that day? I do – scary or what? Looking back, it was all about learning a new set of rules. A stranger in a new country we needed to find a map and ask the locals for help.

It seems to me that September has been the start point for many changes throughout our lives. The world around us has changed our focus whether we want it to or not. However, as we grow we decide when to make changes and move on. We may be prompted by the seasons but there are different rhythms in our working year. We know that September feeling (a beginning). Then there is the calendar year end looming (get it done before the UK shuts for a fortnight), then the tax year (get those expenses in) and sometimes we have a different financial year that drives our business decisions. All of these dates provide our business milestones.

How do you view yours? Are you stimulated by the up coming quarter? Seeing it as an opportunity, inspired to make it work for you, planning what you are going to do? I hope so. It seems to me that a 12-week quarter is a manageable chunk of time. One in which tasks can be achieved, not too daunting, which is why so many successful businesses run on a quarterly review process; look back, review, look forward, plan for what you want to achieve.

On the other hand are you still in second gear? Reluctantly trying to pull yourself together? A client said to me this morning “I need a kick up the backside, I am still on summer time, passing the days rather than using the days”. It happens to us all but if you have a business or work for someone else you are there to ensure the outcomes are right.

We watch our children as they make those fresh starts. We help them make the transitions. We support them as they approach the difficult times or when the road gets rough. Their development is a joint enterprise.

When we are an employee of a professional organisation we should get the same feeling . If you cannot feel it then maybe you are in the wrong place.

However, if you work for yourself where do you get this level of challenge and support? Who helps you to plan the next quarter? Who reviews it with you? Who helps you learn the lessons and improve? Who shares your successes and helps you stand up when you have fallen over?

I would suggest it could be your mentor (but then I am one); it could be someone else in your support group. The important thing is that you are accountable to someone.

So what am I suggesting as you face this new term and strap on your new school shoes? Thinking about these things could be helpful:

  • This is a fresh start so look forward and not back – the past is gone and the future beckons
  • This is all about you doing the best you can and is not competitive with anyone else
  • Lots can be achieved in the 15 weeks until the year end
  • Have you got the map that shows you where you are going?
  • Looking at that what are the priorities that you want to focus on?
  • How are you going to monitor what you do?
  • What advice and support do you need? And where will you find it?

None of this is original. We often think about others first and put ourselves last. Try thinking about how you would advise your younger self and how you would support that advice.

If this has been interesting, please share it. If you are thinking of working with a mentor, please chat with me about what you are hoping to achieve. I might be the right person for you or I can help you find someone who is. In the meantime, life is good; let’s live it to the full and be the best we can be.

Elizabeth Toogood – Your Critical Friend – www.toogoodcriticalfriend.co.uk – [email protected]