If you find it hard to transition between the summer vacation season and then back to school or work, you’re not alone. Such a drastic change in pace throws many people off, as it’s always a bit of a struggle to toggle off and on between “work/school mode” and “vacation mode.”
Part of the confusion during this time stems from the name itself. We label this period “Back to School/Work,” which sounds simple enough. But in reality, it’s a huge transition in vibe and energy, almost on par with the New Year.
During the New Year, we have traditions that keep us grounded and intentional as we move forward and transition back into work after the winter holidays. Why not do the same thing for summer? Creating traditions for the transition back to school and work makes just as much sense, if not moreso.
Traditions help us gain clarity not just about what we’re doing or going to do, but the why behind it all. They can also help you reflect on upcoming goals and intentions, and create a smoother transition back to school or work.
Here are a few ways traditions can help keep you motivated and focused, and relieve the overwhelm that comes during the infamous back to school or work transition.
Using Traditions to Set Your Goals & Intentions
As you head back to school or work, traditions offer a way to check in with yourself about what you want to get out of the coming months. They help you self-reflect and ensure you’re living intentionally and by your own internal scorecard, rather than at the whim of outside circumstances.
So, what kind of traditions can you use to set your goals and intentions? There’s no one right answer, and the possibilities really are endless. These traditions can look totally different based on what kind of person you are, and what you genuinely enjoy doing.
That said, here are a few ideas:
- Go for a long hike and plan and envision your goals in your head along the way.
- Clear your schedule and go to your favorite coffee shop all morning, and journal about what your ideal next half of the year looks like for you.
- Meet with the same friend for a meal out, and bounce ideas off of each other for your upcoming goals and intentions.
There are lots of ways to go about this. The important thing is that your tradition creates enough time and space for you to introspect about what you want your transition back to work or school to look like, and why.
What Kind of Goals Should You Prioritize?
Keep in mind during your reflection and goal setting that oftentimes your initial goals may be very outcome-focused. Reaching a certain weight, looking a certain way, making a specific amount of money… these are all “outcome goals.” And while it’s fine to set goals like these, it’s also important to recognize that we have less control over our outcomes than we do over our own behavior.
For example, if you set a goal to go for a 20 minute run once a week, you’re in full control of that goal because you either go for the run, or you don’t. It’s a very cut-and-dried, binary goal. Compare that to an outcome goal like “I want to look slimmer.” While a goal like that isn’t “wrong” by any means, it’s much harder to achieve and define than a goal of running 20 minutes once a week.
For one thing, we never have total control over how we look or how others perceive us. But also, how are you going to look slimmer? By doing certain activities every day? By eating a certain way? Outcome goals tend to be either very vague or require a detailed roadmap. The simplicity of a goal like a twenty-minute run once a week, where it’s either clearly accomplished or not, is more attractive because it’s clearly defined and more achievable for most people.
As another example, let’s say you set a goal of making $100,000 for the year. Again, a completely reasonable goal, but consider how much of it may not be in your control. You may have to ask your boss for a raise, and the goal then becomes heavily dependent on a single person who isn’t you. Maybe there’s a recession, with widescale layoffs or pay cuts. Such things are always possible, and they can affect your outcome-based goal.
What if, instead, you set a goal of reading one book in your industry every month, taking one person in your network out to lunch every month, or becoming a better communicator by writing or speaking a certain amount of times each month? You’re in full control over all of these things, and they will all help you become such a high-value person that making a higher income may just be the inevitable result.
So when reflecting on your goals and intentions for the year, you might want to err on the side of pursuing goals that you are in full control of.
Parent & Kid Traditions for Back to School
Traditions, goals, and intentions don’t just have to be for adults! That’s why we want to close with a few ideas for traditions that you can do with your kids to help them transition back to school.
Gift a Book
Gift-giving is a great tradition, and a great way to start the school year off. On the first day of school, you can give your child some kind of gift that helps them think about their goals for the upcoming school year. Books are great for this, but you can also do journals, arts and crafts, or even a meal out where you just talk about what you’re each excited about for the next few months. For more gift ideas, check out our full list of back to school and work gift suggestions.
After the first day of school, you can do a show-and-tell dinner with your kids where they share what they learned in school, who they met, and what they’re looking forward to learning about.
Back to School Bucket List
Have your kids create a back to school bucket list, where they brainstorm their own goals for the school year. This can be learning an instrument, focusing on a certain subject, making new friends, trying a sport, etc.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed transitioning in and out of school and work. Using traditions can help make the transition easier and more fun. If you create traditions based on goal-setting, self-reflection, and living intentionally, you’ll be more likely to get the most out of the coming months by living in alignment with your goals.