Yes, I know it’s only September. But September is when I start my year. No, I’m not on some sort of corporate fiscal calendar. I still celebrate the New Year on January 1. But there are lots of reasons I’ve been starting my productivity year in September for all of my adult life.
💡 My Genesis of September New Year
September New Year is pretty common these days, but I got started on this habit back in school. Back in my day school started in September. Even college. Planning my year meant my year went from School Starting to School Ending. A few years later I started touring as a stagehand. The tour “season” was typically Labor Day to Memorial Day. Now that I’m a parent, my son is in school. Same school season. Planning my year from September to September has always just worked for me.
🍂 Fall Is Awesome
September is also around the time fall begins. Now that I’m in California, there’s less of a season change than there was in Brooklyn, but it’s still a mood change. Kids are back in school, people change wardrobes, we start going out more now that the heat is subsiding.
🏖️ The Summer Slump
Labor day is the last holiday of summer. We all get a little lazy over the summer - maybe taking off a few hours early on Fridays or skipping a workout here or there because “it’s just too hot” or “the UV index is too high to go outside”. We go on vacations and need recovery days to get over jet lag or beach exhaustion. All of that is over now. Time to get back to it! (In a healthy, responsible way, of course. You are not your job.)
💸 Financial Wellness
OK, I’m bad at this one, as many of us are. But doing the “big” financial planning in September sets you up for success. You’ve just spent a bunch of money on summer vacations, and now is the time to plan for holiday travel. For me, planning travel in September after the bank accounts have been beaten to a bloody pulp over the summer keeps me in check. This is also a good time to start working on your gift-giving plans and setting aside some cash now.
💪 Physical Wellness
Now is the time to look back at the last few months and see what all the food trucks and margaritas have done to your body and mind. It’s also a great time to set goals for the next year. I find setting these goals in September allows me to plan for the inevitable parties and family get-togethers over the holidays without getting totally off the rails. In the years I haven’t done my September planning I pretty much just give up in December and put all the pressure on January to get me back on track. By planning in September and - this is the important part - giving yourself some holiday leeway, you can still have fun and enjoy the holidays without feeling like shit come January 2nd.
If you’re just starting a new fitness regimen, January is the worst time to do it. If you want to be summer-body ready when the beaches open in April, giving yourself only 3-4 months to get there is unrealistic. Starting in September gives you a full half a year to get your beach body on!
🎉 Goal Setting
In most corporate-y jobs (including the one I have now as a Senior Product Manager for Disney), September is the time of year where you do performance reviews (but don’t call them performance reviews!) and set individual goals and product roadmaps for the upcoming Fiscal Year that begins in October.
Setting my personal goals in the same couple weeks as my work goals allows me to not only be in the mood for goal-setting, but also to align my personal and professional goals as much as possible, perhaps allowing me to learn a programming language or a new design software suite “for work” while also learning something I can use in real life.
For me, considering September my New Year is normal and has become a habit. In the odd years when I avoid doing my yearly plan, I always regret it around February or March.