Planning for Change
Happy New Year! Happy changes!
Yes, it is only August, and I said, “Happy New Year!”
When I was teaching high school, I would greet my students on the first day of school in August with “Happy New Year!”
No, I have not lost my mind. However, I have not lost the back-to-school instincts that became imbedded in my soul after being a student for 17 years and teaching for 34 years. August has always been a month of reflecting on the past school year, a month of planning for the coming school year, and a month for re-establish goals in my personal life.
A new school year is coming. It’s right around the corner, and much sooner than later depending on where in the country you are living.
If you are entering another year of high school or college; if your life seems to be one long, continuous, never-ending highway; if you are retired from a life-long career and the days, weeks, and years loom endlessly ahead; you are capable of reflecting on the past 12 months and planning for the coming 12 months (or even one week or month at a time).
It’s something I have been saying and writing about during the month of August for at least the last 30 years.
“But what about January 1 being New Year’s Day?”
Sure, but when you set goals and resolutions on January 1, how long does it take for those goals and resolutions to fade off into the sunset?
A week? A couple of weeks? A month?
If you are like me and live in a climate where January can be dreary, it’s easy to push those goals off for a day, a week, or even a month or longer.
And, how many times have you been motivated to make changes in your life, but you decide to wait until January 1?
How did that work? If I’m guessing correctly, it didn’t work.
You see, we need to make goals, resolutions, and changes when it fits our motivation and our lives. Waiting until January 1 isn’t always in our best interest.
If you haven’t tried August as your personal new year, let me point a couple of things out.
#1. As a grandparent, I am actively aware that five of our seven grandchildren are returning to school sometime in August. Residing in three different states, each family’s school year calendar is slightly different.
#2. As a shopper, you can’t escape the displays of school supplies that have sprouted up in the front of the stores you frequent, nor can you escape the requests to purchase school supplies for children in need.
#3. If you sit down to watch any kind of television, you will find that there are more commercials now advertising clothing and back-to-school supplies.
Whether you are student, a parent of a school age child, or a teacher at this time, you were also once a student. We spend a minimum of 19 years dictated by the fact that the school year begins in August/September, and it was in preparation for the school year that we bought new clothes and school supplies. We bought a new assignment notebook with a calendar that spanned August through June. Our motivation was magnified. Our resolve set. “This year will be my best year yet.”
Why fight how society trained us?
It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For many people, as the summer winds down, they feel a renewed sense of goal setting.
Why not use the new school year to your advantage?
Or use the change of the seasons. Or the last “unofficial” holiday of the summer: Labor Day.
Even if you use the beginning of a week or a month, it’s time to set your sites on what you want to accomplish and where you want to be in a year, five years, or even ten years.
August, in fact, is not my only New Year. In fact, I celebrate four New Years: August/September (the start of the school year), my wedding anniversary (This year we will celebrate 18 years of marriage.), January (the start of the new calendar year), and March (my birthday month). I used to celebrate two others as well: January (the start of a new semester of the school year) and June (the beginning of summer vacation).
Sometimes, when life has been extremely difficult, I also find myself celebrating a new week or a new month as a time to begin again.
For some reason, it’s a comforting to realize that I can begin to plan goals for myself at any time – I don’t have to wait 365 days until the new calendar year.
Thanks for reading.