Today is a special day.
Parents will be proudly posting photos of their children wearing new shoes and accompanied by updates like, “First day of Grade 4. Where does the time go???!!!” The cynical will just re-post the Staples (or was it Office Depot?) ad with parents singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!”
For parents and students, it IS a special day.
But it’s a special day for all us worker bees, too. Back to School is also Back to Work.
After years of getting a new haircut, a new wardrobe, new pencil case, and new duo-tangs (are they still a thing?), we’ve all been conditioned that our organization’s fiscal year-end or the calendar year-end are irrelevant. The end of summer also signals the return to our work routines. Everyone’s in the office, planning has been completed, and it’s time to get back to business.
You can either be lulled back into doing things the way you always did them or you can embrace the new year ahead with all the excitement of your first day of high school. For inspiration, just do what you did then:
Meet New People
It’s tough to grow if you surround yourself with the same people who are doing the same thing. While I hate the term, “networking”, I’m the first to admit that we all have a network. Grow it. Meet new people, read new people, partner with new people. Like befriending the new kid in Grade 6 who didn’t know anyone, you might gain more than they will.
Take New Subjects
I remember the first time I took Economics. It was Mr. Norman. I had never seen the world through that lens and almost instantly, I could solve all the world’s problems through the simple law of Supply and Demand. You can go deeper on the subjects you’ve already taken but you can also see the world from a completely different view by consciously exploring new and interesting subjects. You don’t have to agree with it and you don’t have to be an expert in it. Just see it. Don’t take a spare.
It’s pretty easy to be connected to our office and our clients 24/7 and sometimes, it’s critical. But in the long run, you’re not doing yourself any favours if all you do is work on your work. True inspiration doesn’t come from sitting at your desk. It comes from seeing how other people do stuff in the rest of the world. The great part about recess was that it was scheduled. The bell rang, you went outside, and did something different. Don't forget to schedule yours.
Do Your Homework
This may seem contradictory to Recess, but it’s not. The real extraordinary growth in your skills won’t come between the hours of 9-5. It’ll come after 6 when you invest in yourself, not your company. Be responsible for your own career by learning and reading and trying and playing after you’ve come home. It’s not work, it’s personal development. When you don’t get the promotion want because you don’t have the skills, “My dog ate my homework” won’t cut it.
Do the Announcements.
Am I the only extravert who’s broadcast training started by doing the announcements over the PA? Hell, I may have reached my peak as a speaker reading where to buy dance tickets, who won the basketball game, and what was happening at lunch. Still, there’s an incredible sense of order in reflecting on yesterday, planning for tomorrow, and reminding yourself what was required today. Why not start your own day like that? And if you want to start off with the national anthem and a little Lord’s Prayer, have at it.
Be proud of your new shoes. Show off your haircut. Commit to the year ahead.
Today IS the start of something new. Embrace it.
It’s Back to Work and if you do it right, it can be the most wonderful time of the year.