September rivals January as the year's biggest caffeine high. All that energy to get back on track, and make new commitments. A switch goes off and suddenly out comes the planner, diet tracker, gym membership, resume.
In the Northeast where I live, it's often accompanied by the first crisp day of fall. There is nothing quite like it.
September is also a month of extremes. I almost called this post, The Stages of September, because if you're not careful you can go from the buzz of activity to the overwhelm of how to get it all done.
Here's how to stay focused and driven at a balanced pace.
1) Know the warning signs of a September slide
I'm not a coffee drinker, but the same happens with tea or chocolate. Just the right amount, and you plow through your to-do list. One too many, and you get the jitters.
The best way to maintain balance is to know what the extremes look like for you.
Helpful Energy: A happy buzz that propels you out of bed in the morning. The confidence and clarity to start a project you've been thinking about for a while. A voice inside that says, "You can do it!"
Hurtful Energy: When the buzz lasts too long, and anxiousness sets in. A voice inside that says, "How will I get this all done?"
You have likely felt both of these before, and you will again.
Our goal isn't to rid you of them. It's to help you be more aware of what's happening so that you can use it to your advantage.
So, pay attention. When "I can do that, and that, and that!" starts to happen, you'll know your September buzz is a bit too high and it's time to take it down a notch. [See #3 for how to do that.]
2) Keep a running tally
Not every idea is a good one.
By the way, that makes a decent September mantra if you need one.
The ideas that flood your brain in early September will seem like they are the best ever, and like they have a time limit. "These are so good, I should do all of them as soon as possible!"
It's just not true. It's just September talking.
Rather than have an argument in your head and not get anything accomplished, keep a notebook handy, or create a second page of your Today list. As soon as a new idea comes to you, write it down.
Next, go back to the original thing you were working on.
Don't do anything about your new idea for at least one hour, and up to a day or even a week. That includes the email that you think you should send right now because the words just came to you in a moment of genius. Write it all down, and sit on it for a while.
Forcing yourself to take time now is how balance happens. When it's too late you'll be desperate for it, so think of this as doing your future self a favor.
3) When anxiety strikes
It happens. The cappuccino was so good you had to have a second. People responded so well to your presentation, you had to accept two more immediate requests. Yesterday, I had five people contact me about meeting, and I wanted to schedule all of them for this week.
It's a good problem, right?
Only after do you realize what you have done to yourself. Your heart is racing, your palms sweating, and you have no idea what to do.
That's why the first step was to recognize what your version of overwhelm looks and feels like, and why the second step was to build in time buffers so you don't commit to more than you can reasonably accomplish.
Doing those channels your newfound energy into brainstorming big ideas (write them down!) and finishing what's already on your plate while you determine what is really worth your time to pursue. Slow and steady, slow and steady.
When you notice you're saying yes to every opportunity in front of you, matters need to be taken immediately in order to prevent the full slide.
Try this [preferably all of them]:
- Stand up.
- Deeply inhale and exhale five times.
- Take a walk.
- Drink a glass of water.
- Take a nap.
Add in others that help slow you down. Play with your dog. Buy yourself flowers. Look up at the clouds. Sing a song in your car. Window shop. Clean your bathroom (surprisingly cathartic). Turn Off Your Phone.
How do you tame your September buzz? I'd love to hear your ideas!
Wishing you the perfect combination of energy & balance. You can do it!