back-to-school
Image: Robert S. Donovan via Flickr

 

For all the griping about the end of summer and then dread of a new classroom and a new teacher, back-to-school is also a time of excitement for a lot of kids (and even adults). Fresh challenges, new educational opportunities — and, in a lot of cases, a chance to start over.

And though the year is already nearly halfway over, it’s not too late to revisit those New Years resolutions, or mid-year life changes, or spur-of-the-moment decisions based on sudden inspiration. Instead of coasting until the holiday season, why not borrow some of the excitement and optimism of a new school year, whether you’re enrolled or not?

Go supply-wild. One of the very best parts about a new school year was always back-to-school shopping. New pens! Gluesticks! Clean, empty notebooks! Capture some of that excitement with new supplies for whatever your craft is. Extra storage space in your Dropbox? Sure. New wire-cutters for your jewelry-making business? Absolutely. Whatever your discipline, start the “new” year out with new tools to reinvigorate yourself. You don’t need to spend a lot — just get yourself something to get excited again.

Set goals. In college, going back to school meant picking classes and decided what you wanted to invest your time in. Do the same this fall, by prioritizing what you want to have accomplished by the end of the “quarter.” A better website? A better relationship with social media? Send yourself to Whatever It Is 101 this fall and really commit.

Make a calendar. The school calendar is based on holidays, long weekends, and other extra days off — at least, for kids who can’t wait until Thanksgiving for those sweet, sweet four days off. And so, too, can your next few months. Look ahead (way ahead!) just the way you did when you were a kid, and work toward those small goals, whether it’s a weekend getaway or a visit with old friends. When you plan your months out around fun things and tiny, achievable goals, the whole year looks a lot less daunting.

Pack a lunch. Remember how your mom used to put all your favorite stuff in your lunch? And you felt like a super-hero when you unpacked that perfect, crustless sandwich? Or maybe all you wanted was to be one of those kids with hot lunch. Either way, now that you’re an adult, you can eat whatever you want. Stock your home or office (or home office) with healthy, hearty snacks that delight you, and make it a point to bring smart, nutritious meals with you to work. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also be more productive.

Make friends. Hands down, one of the most fun and terrifying things about a new school year was all the new faces. For adults, new friends are a little harder to make — you’re not just relegated to whoever has the closest name to yours alphabetically — but with the miracle of social media, it’s actually not that rough. Consider asking someone you only know on Twitter out to coffee. Or, finally make it a point to get to know that really cool person in your office who you never actually work with, but have noticed around. You may never be besties, but forging new connections is always a good thing.

Take a photo. School photos are supposed to mark your growth throughout the years, but your back-to-school pictures don’t have to be of you. They just have to be of whatever if is you’re committing to this fall. Organizing your workspace? Do a before and after photo series. Working on filling out your online store? Take a screen-shot of how it used to look so when you hit the end of this year, you’ve got a way to commemorate how much work you’ve put in.

Learn something. Education is not just for kids (which you probably know, or you wouldn’t be lurking on the CreativeLive blog, but it bears repeating). Whether it’s a class at the community center, a new book, or a free online broadcast of something you’ve been meaning to get a handle on, ongoing, lifelong education is not only great for your brain, it can also help you stay on top of your game, regardless of your industry.

Get excited! For adults, September is just another month — which is a real drag. Instead, treat it like an exciting fresh start. Commit to something. Resolve to do something. By the time winter break rolls around, you’ll be feeling accomplished and exhilarated, rather than unfulfilled and exhausted.