January 1st is typically the day of the year that most us make resolutions – but sticking to these new goals during the long winter months can be challenging, in fact so challenging that almost 80% of resolutions are broken within just a few months of being created. But perhaps it’s not the act of making resolutions that is doomed to failure, but simply the time of year we choose to make them… Experts are increasingly advising us that September is a much better time of year to make those positive changes. After all, September bears many similarities to January:
– Both come after times where we may have over indulged on holidays and our minds begin to turn to making more positive choices
– The turn of the season into autumn can make us think of a fresh start in the same way that a new year can. The lazy days of summer are over and it’s time to refocus our energy in the workplace.
– Unlike the start of January, everybody is likely to be available in the workplace to put things into action straight away
– There’s much less pressure than at new year and people are more likely to have time to help you stick to your goals rather than pursuing their own
– The start of September is built into our minds as the start of a new school year – a fresh beginning, often in a new environment. This pre-conditioning can be turned to your advantage when it comes to goal setting.
So how can you grasp the opportunity to start the academic year with a new positive mind set? Some examples of goals to consider that fit perfectly alongside a new academic year:
1. Teaching goals
A new intake of students presents opportunities to create new teaching goals for the year. Whether you have been teaching for many years or are just starting out in the profession, there is always room to develop your technique and bring in a new approach. Discuss teaching ideas with colleagues and try to set yourself goals to inspire your students (even more!) this year.
2. Career Goals
If you’ve been considering trying for promotion, a new academic year represents a great opportunity to show you are ready for more responsibility. This could be the perfect time to put yourself forward – could you volunteer for academic committees or approach senior faculty staff to ask for a mentor? Can you suggest a new research project? Propose a paper for a conference?
3. Expand your network
Setting a goal to make new connections can be a great way to create career opportunities and a new academic year can be the perfect opportunity to meet new people – accept invitations to conferences or volunteer to sit on committees.
4. Build in mindfulness
The start of a new term can be incredibly busy, and it is easy to become bogged down in the day to day challenges without leaving room for your own goals. Try to find a few minutes each day to simply focus on what you hoped to achieve in the year. Even a five minute break can be sufficient to help reframe your focus – if you use it wisely.
5. Create a positive working environment
Creating a fresh working environment can help you to gain a new sense of focus – take the opportunity to declutter from last year. In the famous words of William Morris: “Have nothing… that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
Make the most of this annual opportunity to refocus and start your new academic year with a fresh and optimistic approach – who knows where you’ll be by January 1st?