Most of us spent at least 13 of the first 18+ years of our lives going back to school this time of year. Many of us went back to school in August or September even more years than that – through college, even grad school or medical school… And for some of us, like me, who chose teaching as a career, there were that many more years…. (In fact, I went back to school for 27 of the first 33 years of my life.)
Then of course, our kids went back to school even when we didn’t… so add another 13 or more years to that…
So is it any wonder that when late August and September roll around, that we aren’t feeling like… hmmm…. isn’t there SOMETHING I’m supposed to be doing to get ready to go back? Only now the question is, “Go back to…. what?”
It’s beyond nostalgic. It’s momentum. It seems to be almost a biological trigger that makes us yearn for the old days of “going back.”
However, I actually think the nostalgia born of momentum has almost nothing to do with going back to school itself. It’s more about three favorite things:
- the anticipation of a new experience and a clean slate
- reconnecting with friends we haven’t seen in awhile
- and buying new stuff – school supplies, new clothes and shoes and bags.
Fun fun fun! Until the first week of school, and perhaps some homework… when reality again set in.
Oh. Yeah. School. (How far away is summer vacation?)
So it struck me that those of us who now work in advocacy, who don’t actually “go back” to anything we haven’t already been doing this time of year, might like the opportunity to enjoy all the FUN aspects of preparing to return to school. It can be a celebration that we don’t have to actually go back (!) combined with some preparation that will make for a far more successful Fall season as advocates.
Anticipation: Just like we counted down the days until school began again, choose a date when you’ll “go back,” representing the date you’ll jump into some large project or learning opportunity that you’re ready to commit to. It might be that marketing project you’ve been putting off (blogging anyone?) or making arrangements to do some public speaking, or taking a class or attending a workshop. Commit to the date. Put it on your calendar. Then count down those days until your go-back date – and get it done! (And yes, it will generate probably some homework. It should!)
Reconnecting: Between now and your go-back date – begin to reconnect with former clients, or people who didn’t hire you who might need you now. Remind them of your services, provide them with a little tidbit of information that helps them remember how you can help them, ask their permission to add them to your email newsletter list. Reconnect, too, with other advocates whose skills are complimentary to yours. You might discuss some co-marketing ideas or finding others who compliment the skills you both have – you can develop an entire team of professionals.
Buying Stuff: This may be less about actually spending money and more about organization and a new approach to time management. Is it time to clean up your work space? What hardware or software application would make your work more efficient or effective? Do you need a more ergonomic chair? Or maybe one of those walking desks so you can get a little exercise? Maybe you’ll even want to freshen up your space; make it more conducive to working, or more fun to work in. Or it might be time to think about rearranging your furniture to create a more efficient or comfortable space, getting a larger office, or relocating it to make it more central to your clientele.
Of course, the real purpose of school is education and learning. The need (and for many of us, desire) to learn new things is the one thing that didn’t stop when “going back” did. As independent advocates and care professionals, I cannot encourage you strongly enough to continue your learning about advocacy – the business of running a smart practice, and the service details needed to serve your clients. In that way, we need to “go back” continually…
You can always find new learning opportunities through the many courses, programs, events, and memberships offered by dozens of organizations that want to support advocacy and, of course, patients.
How will you “go back”?