This is a strange time of year. The onset of September comes with a host of seasonal and societal cues, punctuated by Labor Day — the unofficial “end of summer.”
And with Summer’s end, also comes the end of vacation season, beach season, sleeping in, barbecues and poolside drinks, long days, short pants, and otherwise taking it easy. Autumn is back — it’s time to wake up!
Back-to-School time reveals our “deep habits”, those behaviors that we can’t seem to shake no matter how old we get. Brushing your teeth is a good example of a deep habit — it’s not just something you read about last year, but rather something that’s become nearly automatic from a lifetime of repetition. I have a deep habit regarding my keys — I always hang them on the back of the door knob after I enter my apartment. This one has followed me since I was a teenager at least, and no matter where I live, I still hang my keys on the doorknob.
The seasons show our collective habits. Those of Summer mostly concern recreation and relaxation — the reward for surviving the winter and enduring the spring. An old boss of mine put it succinctly when he remarked that “no matter how old I get, I still don’t want to do any work in the summer.” I admit, I share a similar deep habit.
A more productive deep habit of summer is the desire to spend time with friends. As school kids, we went to summer camp or bummed around town with pals. As college students we took road trips and rented beach houses. And now that we’re grown-ass people, we meet for brunch at local cafes or drinks on rooftops.
This latter example shows that deep habits can be helpful! That week at the beach can also be the time to catch up on reading. Seeing friends can mean a chance to plan and scheme a new project with your closest collaborators.
Autumn too brings with it some productive deep habits. The “Back-to-School” season often means Back-to-Work; when everyone in the office wraps up their family trips and buckles down for the new season. This is the time for new initiatives and new hiring, as well as re-focusing on goals and efforts pushed aside for summer. This is the season when networking events and lectures resume in earnest (perhaps tied to the academic calendar) and when big companies map out their holiday sales season.
Whether you work in a large company or just by yourself, now is the time to make something happen! Make those calls, revisit those wacky ideas, track your progress on lingering projects.
But unfortunately, another deep habit is right around the corner — winter holidays. We’ve got 10 weeks before Thanksgiving (in the US), when we slip back into Christmas mode, and the host of rituals and cues that go with that. So don’t waste your autumn. Make reinvention a new habit.
What are your deep habits?
Do you have a summer ritual that feels natural? Do you find your work changes at this time of year for the better? Or maybe for the not-so-better?
Leave a comment below to share your own habits. I’m always impressed and amazed at the variety of your responses, as well as the patterns that emerge.