COVID Can’t Take September Away

September Is Still the New January

Credit: Courtesy

Anyone who knows me knows that we are immersed in my favorite time of the year right now — September. I have always felt that September is “the new January.” However, this year, it once again feels vastly different than past Septembers. Last September, the pandemic pushed all of us off our routines and internal clocks. In 2020, with school starting online, gyms closed, and the world feeling very shut down, it was a very different-feeling September.

My theory is that September should be the new January: the start of a new year with fresh beginnings and goal-setting. 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. The fallow fields of fall following a harvest seem 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 and Islamic new years are late September or early October.

Here are three reasons that September will always be my favorite time for a fresh start: 

1) Your mental infrastructure is in place.  Since childhood, we’ve known September as the beginning of the school year. I’m guessing you got some new stuff for school, too. New shoes, pencils or pens, or a shiny lunchbox. Preparation for going back to the classroom probably began a couple of weeks before the first day of school. What a perfect mindset to realize goals. And guess what? That mindset is still with you. May as well put it to good use with some goal-setting. 

Credit: Courtesy

2) There’s plenty of energy.  Summer is coming to a close, vacations are over, and cooler temperatures are on their way (well, perhaps not in Santa Barbara). What a perfect time to reflect on the past eight months and decide what you’d like to see happen before 2021 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. 

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 “shoulds”: nonstop commercials badgering you to join a gym, stop smoking, get organized, and so on. September allows you to concentrate on what you think is valuable, not what others consider important. 

One idea to try now:  Look ahead into the fourth quarter of this year and reflect on five things you’ve accomplished and five things you want to push hard to get done by year’s end. See? September is the perfect time to look ahead and start fresh! 

We have learned a lot during COVID, mostly to be flexible, prepare for the unexpected, and go with the flow. Here’s to looking ahead, putting some structure in place, and using our COVID lessons to get through the end of the year!

Sara Caputo transforms how individuals, teams, and small businesses navigate workflow and increase workplace efficiency. 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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