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Your 5-Step September Action Plan

A friend recently told me that to her, Labor Day feels more like New Year’s Eve than December 31st does. I must agree. It seems we never really outgrow the “back-to-school” mentality. It’s about a fresh start. It’s about learning new things. It’s about possibility.

This is why I absolutely love September.

Or as Tom Hanks says as Joe in You’ve Got Mail, the fall “… makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”

Yes, I would.

That said, as much as I love new beginnings, I often find it difficult to rouse myself out of my lazy summer stupor. Inertia sets in. Resistance sets in. Fear sets in. And before I know it, all that possibility goes to waste.

So, a few years ago, I took to creating a September plan of action to help me achieve everything I want to by the end of each year.

Here’s how to create your plan for the last four months of 2022.

Step 1: What do you want to achieve by the end of the year?

If you’re anything like me, you want to achieve all kinds of things by the end of the year. Too many things.

Pick three. Just three meaty, important things. Things that will take you to a new level or sphere.

Be specific about what you want. If your goals are too vague, they’re more likely to fade from your consciousness, especially when things get busy. Clarify exactly what it is you want. But, be realistic. Again, if your goals are too far out of reach, they’re more likely to fade.

Put each on in the form of a question.

How can I… ?

Step 2: What are the challenges and obstacles you will face?

What are you predicting will keep you from achieving your goals? Consider challenges that are internal to you, such as fear, a lack of time or a knowledge/expertise gap as well as external challenges such as staffing issues, work environment, or a budget shortfall.

List them all.

I know, we’ve just let the air out of your happy balloon. Don’t worry, we’ll get it back in there.

Step 3: What has to happen for you to achieve your goals?

Knock each challenge and obstacle down. And to do so, use the phrase,

I can, if…

This methodology comes from the book A Beautiful Constraint by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden.

What makes it so powerful is the way if focusses you on solutions. It keeps you optimistic and empowered. You’re not ignoring the obstacles, as so many of us do. You’re looking them right in the eye and addressing them one at a time.

Step 4: Ask yourself, What must grow? and What must go?

Now that you know what has to happen, it’s time to think about how you’re going to support yourself as you take action.

Think habits, mindsets, ideas, commitments. What must you do more of? What must you let go of?

Step 5: Systemize

This is critical. Even the most determined people can get thrown off track when things get busy or don’t go to plan. The best way to avoid that is to create a practice that will systematically advance you toward achieving your goal.

What are 3 to 5 things you need to do every day to ensure you are constantly working toward your goals?

How can you support your physical health? How can you support your mental health? How can you support your relationships? How will you spend your time? How will you show up as your best self, each and every day?

Your system will make or break you. Create it from a place of self-understanding and self-compassion.

One last thing…

Be sure to take your time developing your plan. It should be not only something you can adhere to, but that you actually want to adhere to.

And when you’re ready… go get’em.

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