Why Successful People Set Goals in September, Not January

The summer is over. School is back in session. Business is picking up again.

If you feel a renewed sense of motivation right now, you’re not alone. There’s mounting evidence that “September is the new January” when it comes to setting goals.

In fact, studies find that enrollment in weight loss programs rises in the Fall, along with online searches about career development.

It’s clear change is the air, but why?

The Psychology of New Beginnings

September is a popular time for reinvention and renewed motivation because of something behavioral economists have dubbed the “fresh start effect“. Put simply, this principle suggests that it’s easiest to adopt to habits at natural transition points. A new beginning may be signaled by an occasion like a birthday or a temporal landmark like the first of the month. Changing seasons can also provide a clean slate.

We use the start of a new week, month, or year as a marker to put past behavior behind us. These transition points gives us “freedom to become a new, better version of ourselves”, notes Inc. columnist Jessica Stillman.

Taking Advantage of the ‘Fresh Start Effect’

So instead of waiting for the New Year to set goals, why not make progress now?

Start by taking time for self-reflection. Ask yourself:

  • What’s working best in my life/career/business right now?
  • What key actions or projects do I want to focus on in the next quarter?
  • What do I still want to achieve this year that I haven’t started?

For my clients who feel overwhelmed as the busy Fall season begins, I have them schedule a “power hour” to make progress on all the little tasks you’ve been putting off. Essentially all it involves is blocking out time on your calendar for an uninterrupted productivity blitz.

You’ll be surprise at how much calmer and focused you feel once dozens of nagging to-do’s are out of your brain. Not to mention, you can build upon that momentum to tackle even more ambitious endeavors.

Now that September has started, what do you plan to accomplish?

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