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My theory is that September should be the new January, a time of fresh beginnings and goal setting. Basically, I love the new energy of school being back in session and the feeling of being able to hit the reset button on everything.

Think about it. The calendar we use —the Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 — seems to lack a rhythm with nature or a seasonal flow. Fall, with its fallow fields following a harvest, seems to be a much better choice for a new beginning than the dead of winter. As are the turn of the season and the shifting angle of the sun. There are good reasons that the Jewish (Rosh Hashanah) and Islamic new years are late September or early October.

Need more convincing? May I present the following five reasons to make September the new January, a month for goal setting:

(1) Your mental infrastructure is in place.

September has long been the beginning of the school year. That’s when kids get all the new stuff for school — new shoes, pencils, pens, a shiny lunchbox. Preparation for going back to the classroom probably began a couple of weeks before the first day of school. And guess what? That mind-set is still with you. May as well put it to good use with some goal setting.

(2) There’s plenty of energy.

Summer is coming to a close, vacations are over, and cooler temperatures are on their way (well, not really in Santa Barbara). Talk about feeling recharged! What a perfect time to reflect on the past eight months and decide what you’d like to see happen before 2018 comes to an end. Compare that to the financial and emotional hangover that many experience in the first month of the year after the glut of the holiday season, i.e., in January.  

(3) You can go at your own pace.

You’ll be able to work on those goals without any pressure from mass media or family and friends. January brings an assault of nonstop commercials and badgering to join a gym, stop smoking, raise sales numbers, get organized, and so on. September allows you to concentrate on what you think is important.

(4) The timing is right.

This is particularly true for financial goals. Actions you take in the last months of the year can have a big effect on the family pocketbook. Act on those tax savings tips, sell that underperforming stock, and use those flexible-spending dollars in your health plan.

(5) The tools are handy.

Ever try to get a parking space at the gym in January? Not easy, is it? (Not to mention there’s usually a line for the elliptical trainer.) How about those wait times on the brokerage house’s 800 number? Scheduling an appointment with your accountant is no easy task, either. September is the off-season for these kinds of chores. Take advantage of the relative quiet in schedules. Come January, you’ll be glad you did.

Here’s an idea to try now: Take September to commit to something new and different. It need not be something grand or with a lot of fanfare, and the commitment only has to last through December 31. Start and finish the book that’s been on your bedside table for months. Brown-bag it once a week. Get your email inbox cleaned up and keep it that way, or hit the gym at least two times a week.

Come January 1, you may find that your 2019 is already off to a smooth start.

Sara Caputo transforms how individuals, teams, and small businesses navigate workflow and increase productivity. Her work has been featured in Working Women, Success, and Forbes, as well as other national and regional publications. She can be reached at


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