It’s September! The kids are starting school and there are only a few days left to linger on a terrace. Here in Montréal, we’re already pulling out our ‘tite laine for those chilly mornings and gearing up for the first days of fall.
Let me ask you: how are you doing with your goals?
September is a great month for new beginnings, for recommitting to goals you’d set earlier in the year or for readjusting goals that aren’t quite going the right way.
The summer months are important for taking time off to rest and recharge. With that said if we aren’t deliberate and intentional, we can easily find ourselves sliding into the holiday season without having accomplished anything meaningful. Seize the energy of the changing seasons and focus on taking action.
“I don’t have a goal”
If you don’t have any goals, now’s a great time to set one. We have a solid 3 months to go before the Christmas holidays, which is a good time frame to work with.
Think about your summer. Who did you spend time with? Who did you meet? Where did you go? What did you see? What experiences did you have? At some point this summer, I know that you said to yourself “You know what, I want this.” What was it that you wanted? Was it a material object? An accomplishment? A skill? An attitude? Whatever your “this” was, that’s the goal you need to get working on.
I’ll only caution against one thing: thinking about what goal to set in the future is not a goal you should work on. Why? You risk falling into analysis-paralysis then setting a massive, vague, “New Year’s resolution”-style goal, like losing 50 pounds or eradicating world hunger. The time for setting bigger goals will come, but it isn’t now. Now is the time for getting into the habit of having a goal and working towards it.
Let’s use a really simple example: say you went to the Maritimes or New England this summer and had an amazing crab cake. You thought to yourself, “Man, this crab cake! I gotta learn how to make these.” Use this as your staring point. Go, look up cooking classes and commit to learning how to make an awesome crab cake. Research techniques you’re struggling with or new ingredients that you can get creative with. Start up conversations about what you’re learning with the others in the class. Will this goal change your life? Probably not. But going to a class might encourage you to take other classes and build your skills. You’ll have something new to share with your entourage and you might inspire a loved one to try something they’ve always wanted to do. You might meet someone in your class who could refer you to your dream job or become more at ease talking to new people at networking events. You might even be inspired to teach a class yourself and enjoy the fulfillment of helping others learn as you give back to your community.
Goal-setting is a learned behaviour. Start with a small goal and accomplish it. I guarantee that this is the pathway for setting bigger, more audacious and more fulfilling goals.
“I’ve slacked off from my goal”
If you took some time off from your goal this summer, that’s perfectly fine. Consider this as your friendly reminder to get back to it.
Deciding to recommit and actually recommitting are two different things however, so it might be a good idea to set things up in a way that will ensure your success. The best way to go about doing this is to set an appointment with at least one other person.
Let’s say your goal was to find a new job. You took all the right steps: you updated your résumé and applied to jobs. You landed a couple of interviews and practiced until your interview skills were on point. Unfortunately, things didn’t pan out. Summer set in, and the job search fell by the wayside.
Your best bet now would be to call a friend, former boss or mentor – someone who inspires you and whom you really don’t want to let down – and set up a coffee meeting or a lunch date to catch up. Set the meeting up for a couple of weeks from now. Doing this will inevitably get you back in gear. The last thing you want to do is ask this person for their input on your job search then tell them that you haven’t taken action in several months.
Setting a specific date and time when you have to show someone you respect something concrete is a great way to nudge the recommitment process along and get you back on track.
“I’m not sure about my goal anymore”
Similarly as in the previous scenario, a few warm sunny days and barbecues with friends did some good, but now you’re reading these words and are uninspired about getting back to work on your goal.
My recommendation for you would be to first reexamine your why. Why did you set this goal in the first place? Remembering why you set your goal helps you to find back the excitement of an earlier time.
Once you’ve reignited your why, take a look at your how. It could be that you’re still fully engaged with the outcome you want, but it’s the process that has you cooling your jets. Could you accomplish your goal in a different way? Is there a more enjoyable way of accomplishing your goal? Is there any part of your goal that you could outsource or are there any tools or apps that could help you out?
Another possibility is that you’re stuck. You know what you want and you’re excited about it, but you just aren’t sure about what to do next. In this case, it helps to get out there and network with people who have the strengths you lack. Believe it or not, successful people want to see others succeed, especially when they see that the person has made some headway on their own. When asking for advice, it’s important to be coachable. If someone has achieved something that you want and suggests a course of action, listen and act. Implement what they suggest.
Goals make you a better version of yourself. To become better and to become more, you have no choice but to step out of your comfort zone. It’s like the old saying goes: if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.