I’ve been chasing the back-to-school high for over twenty years. I have yet to recapture the intensity of the magical feeling of having a fresh clean slate combined with reset button. When I was in school, each September I felt an absolute certainty that this year I would develop flawless habits and be on top of all of my studying and  assignments in every class. In fact, why stop there, I could do assignments ahead of time, and study earlier than the night before a test. No more waiting until the last minute, no more procrastinating. The beginning of the year was an opportunity to redefine myself however I wanted to, and also, I had new school supplies and a new homework book*.

The Clean Slate

As adults we never really get to start with such a clean fresh state. There’s the whole New Years thing, but I’m going to call that a cheap knock-off because when you go back to work in January, you still have the carry-over to-do list  from December. Also, a school year is something with a clear beginning and end, and technically it comes with measurable results**

The Reset Button

Not only do adults not get a full clean slate, but we don’t get a reset each year where suddenly everything changes and begins again with new schedules, people, and goals. Again, New Years isn’t a real reset because you don’t actually have to do anything new if you don’t want to. As adults, it’s possible to keep chugging along, get really comfortable, and only make changes on an as-needed basis, or when we are in the mood. We aren’t necessarily forced into new situations.

So What?

It’s so easy to go along with the current, and it’s even easier to lose track of time. It’s easy to become a creature of habit, but as a result it can take years for someone to realize that they aren’t actually on the trajectory that they want to be on, or living a life that they are actually into. I’ve witnessed adults suddenly come to the realization that they are completely bored with themselves.

The Back to School Feeling for Adults

I’ve been searching for the magic formula of how to capture the September feeling without the impracticality of ditching life and responsibility to go back to school, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it hinges on two things in particular:

  1. Introducing something NEW in your life (something outside your comfort zone, don’t just phone it in)
  2. Having an interesting GOAL (one again, for something outside your comfort zone, not something that you know you could do with just a little more effort or discipline)
If the two things above don’t result in crossing paths with new people or some changes in your routine, you aren’t taking it far enough. Bonus points for extra intentional routine changes.
I’m going to be doing a few new things in the fall to make the season feel fresh (other than the big one, starting my coaching groups for women). Here are some of them:
  1. Launching a Podcast with a friend (more to come on this soon) 
  2. Weekly band rehearsal – with goal of show with new band members in December
  3. New fitness goal related to the speed of running a 5K
  4. Changing up my morning routine… and bedtime habits
  5. Quitting Diet Coke. For real this time.

Am I crazy to get so excited about the fall? Who else sees it as the season of infinite possibility?
*Those of you who were my age – did you have a homework book?

**Measurable with grades, that said, in hindsight I don’t believe that grades based on memorized knowlege make the best measure of success. And how many of us would pass our high school math and science exams if they were given to us this second?