From the time you were little, early September signaled the start of a new year, says investor and “personal-disruption expert” Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work.
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief
Culture and lifestyle magazines started informing us all of the trend that is “September is the new January …” or “September is for goal setting.”
As a parent, I tend to agree.
“I sometimes find myself accidentally calling this time of year ‘the new year,’ because it has the sense of starting fresh and beginning again,” says motivational speaker Gabrielle Bernstein, best-selling author of May Cause Miracles: A Guidebook of Subtle Shifts for Radical Changes and Unlimited Happiness.
These stories and this cultural line up of activity soon caught on in our communities around the U.S. With the start of the school year, summer coming to an end and the holidays fast approaching … September was indeed becoming the new January.
People started setting and tackling big goals each fall so they could finish the year better than they started and in a way, get a head start on other goals for the New Year.
“You can think of December as a fresh start, and then slide into January ahead of the game,” says Shauna Mackenzie, founder of Best Kept Self, an online self-care platform for entrepreneurs.
And we’re not the only ones talking about it and putting a name to it. Harper’s Bazaar noted in September of 2018 … While January is the traditional time for making goals or resolutions, we could be setting ourselves a far greater challenge in trying to kick-start positive change at this time of year. Commonly, after a Christmas of indulgence and with the worst of winter ahead of us, our energy levels are depleted and our mood might be low. “Many of us are happier in September. Sunshine, lighter days and potentially the effects of a summer holiday can result in our brains producing more serotonin, known as the ‘happiness hormone’,” says Plant. “It has been clinically proven that a positive frame of mind is more conducive to enhancing focus, concentration and our ability to challenge our Negative Automatic Thoughts (NATs), and so we are more likely to attain our goals and resolutions by starting them at this time of year.”
Furthermore, research both offline in the medical literature and online is proving this goal setting time frame to be catching on more and more. A new report from Pinterest revealed that goal-related searches are on the rise, with more people seeking inspiration around goal planning (up 128 percent), goal lists (up 101 percent), big family goals (up 86 percent) and life goals (up 81 percent).
Pinterest’s data comes as no surprise to Jenna Palumbo, a therapist at Evergreen Therapy in Illinois, who says she notices clients shifting their attention toward goal setting this time of year.
“In my experience with clients, I notice that there’s a bigger draw to making positive changes at this time of year than there is after the new year,” says Palumbo, who praises September as “a more realistic time to make changes and set up new routines than January, [which] is a really difficult time to make changes because we’re run down from all the holiday activities, our routines have shifted, we probably ate more sweets and less vegetables and, for most of us, the cold weather doesn’t have us functioning optimally.”
Doctors Can Help Patients Tackle Small Annoyances
Patients, like me, need gentle, constant reminders from the people we trust in our lives. Sometimes the hints are subtle. Often, we need more nudges and calendar reminders to get moving on goals.
But one way we believe Doctors can help their Patients is by helping Patients in this time frame (September of each year) by reminding them about small goals they may have put off. This could be in the form of checklist you give to patients on their way out the door … or a weekly email full of encouragement from the Doctor. Regardless of the delivery vehicle, the important part of doing this is that you help patients move forward.
FAST COMPANY: Six Reasons To Set New Year’s Resolutions In September
“Take a few minutes to think about some little things that regularly irritate you but aren’t big enough to get on your radar to fix,” says Cheryl Fulton, associate professor in the professional counseling program at Texas State University. “This can be things like a squeaky door, a pile of papers that need filing or a person that you need to say no to — anything that regularly gets a sigh or eye roll from you but doesn’t seem important to address right now. Pick one of these things to tackle once a month. Tackling these small annoyances can add up to less stress and greater peace of mind.”
Here’s Another Idea For Doctors.
Whether you are single, married, have children or not, everyone should prepare for their future to ensure it remains with your family.
Sadly, in our communities across the U.S. right now, more than 6/10 of the people [e.g. your Patients] probably have no clue where important documents are or have drafted updated healthcare POAs, living wills, or written a will at all.
As you Patients’ Doctor and trusted guide in all things healthcare, you can help your patients today, tomorrow and in the next year … by simply reminding them to put this on their “to-do list” the next time they walk in for a visit.
It’s that simple.
How To Set Up A Legacy Drawer
I know that if I got a friendly reminder on my Doctor’s letterhead wishing me well but also reminding me that I should have these documents updated or drafted and signed, I’d pay attention. We call it around here … a “Legacy Letter.”
And it’s as simple as this. If something happened to you tomorrow, how prepared is your loved one or spouse to cope and deal with the financial, banking, estate, insurance policies, etc., in the event of your untimely departure.
I know, no one wants to bring up these issues and talk about death. And, if you think that’s what you’re doing, you’re missing the point.
You’re not doing this for them. You’re job is to simply remind them that “Hey, if you want to sleep peacefully at night … check this ‘to-do item’ off your list. Your loved ones will thank you for it!”
And research is proving this to be true. Reuters Health said recently that only 37 percent of Americans have advanced directives for end-of-life care if they become seriously ill or unable to make health care decisions, according to a new analysis of recent research.
Caring.com states that While less than 25% of people surveyed have a will, 60% say that they think having a will is important. And while more than half of people recognize the importance of wills, our data shows that fewer people are thinking about estate planning than in 2019. They also cited these stats:
- The number of older and middle-aged adults with estate planning documents dropped by 20% and 25% since 2019, respectively.
- The number of adult Americans that have a will or another type of estate planning document decreased by nearly 25% since 2017.
The idea of a “Legacy Drawer” is not new.
However, as a trusted guide, healthcare navigator and local community Physician expert on all things health and wellness related … if you want to keep your Patients sleeping well at night and prepared for their future, simply reminding them each September or every January might be a good idea!
You might even find that when the Patient/person walks into your exam room at their next appointment … they’ll thank you for the helpful reminder.
And that is priceless!
How to Set Up Your Legacy Drawer
First things first: Make sure your legacy drawer is somewhere in your home. (It might even motivate you to clear out one of those pesky junk drawers you’ve been meaning to get to!)
What to Keep in Your Legacy Drawer
Once you have your legacy drawer cleaned out and ready for documents, grab a stack of file folders and labels. You’ll want to keep all your files organized and easy to add to and sort through. Here are the 11 documents we recommend you keep in your legacy drawer:
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