Happy New Year! (Or Why I Start My New Year On September 1st.)

Mike Vardy
Sep 3, 2016 · 5 min read

Back when I wrote The Front Nine, I explained that I started my new year in February. Actually, the specific date was February 2nd: Groundhog Day. Why? Because — as a nod to the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day — I didn’t want my new year to be a rehash of the previous year. I took January as a time to reflect and recharge, and then hit the ground running once February 2nd arrived.

But this year, I decided to make a change. Now I’m starting my new year on September 1st.

I’m not alone in this way of thinking. Gretchen Rubin has done this for years, as has comedian (who, like me, is originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) Martin Short.

Yet until this shift I’ve suggested that Groundhog Day would be the ideal to start the year. So why the change? How am I going to make it stick? What does that mean for February 2nd?

Let’s get into that.

Here are the primary reasons I’m starting my new year on Labour Day from here on out.

Starting on September 1st aligns with the school calendar.

Both of my kids are in school now and the school year starts in September. During the summer I’m home with the kids, so aligning my calendar with the aligning my calendar with the school year just makes sense to me.

I must confess that this summer I didn’t spend as much time with my kids during the week as I would have liked; the disruptions were much greater and I wasn’t able to get any focus work done until the evening. Since I’m a night owl, this shouldn’t have been a problem. But Productivityist has grown considerably in the past year. There simply aren’t enough time in the evening hours to accomplish everything I want to do. That bothered me — although not as much as not spending as much time with my family as I desired.

So I started to think about how my year was crafted.

I want to be more effective. I want to be more efficient. I want to be better than ever — in all of the areas of life that matter to me.

Summer is a slow time for productivity.

In the past, I have had both July and August as “unthemed” months. The summer was my midway mark for the year. These two months acted as a break, but because I’d been taking a week long sabbatical every 8 weeks (as inspired by Sean McCabe) they almost seemed to be disruptive instead. After giving it some thought, I realized that with this shift toward Labour Day as the kickoff toward the New Year, I can intentionally do these three things:

  1. Use the summer as a time to review, reflect, and recharge. Normally I have reserved this for the month of January. But shifting this to the summer gives me an entire season of recharging. As a result I know I will be much more refreshed and more prepared for the new year.
  2. Use the World Domination Summit to help jumpstart my new year. I regularly attend the World Domination Summit over the summer. I always come back from it inspired and teeming with ideas and a willingness to map things out. By moving the start of my year to Labour Day, going to WDS can be leveraged even more as a catalyst for change and action because I won’t be looking six months ahead to make these ideas happen.
  3. I’d get to spend more focused time with my family. This is the most important thing moving my new year to Labour Day would do. After all, the reason I take time to structure my year is to create freedom for me and my family. The way things were set up before I decided to start my year on Labour Day didn’t fit that reasoning at all.

It just feels right.

Besides the fact that starting my new year on Labour Day was wise for the above reasons, it ultimately just feels like the right thing to do.

I know that emotion plays a role in how we function as human beings. Our emotions can wreak havoc on logic, which is why we tend to try to cast it aside and dismiss what our feelings tell us. So it would have been easy to use the fact that I’d encouraged people for the past two years or so to start their new year on Groundhog Day. But this really would have been a way to stick with the status quo. After all, doing so might circumvent my status in my area of expertise.

In the end, I considered everything and the choice to move away from starting my new year on Groundhog Day wasn’t solely a logical decision — it was also an emotional decision. The cost of being stubborn and sticking with what had worked until this year (but no longer really did) wasn’t worth the price I was paying.

The decision to start my new year on Labour Day doesn’t just seem right…it feels right. So I’m doing it.

What about Groundhog Day?

Groundhog Day will still play an important part of my calendar, just not in the same way. Instead of it being the kickoff for my year, it’ll be the midway checkpoint.

It’ll be the day where I look at what I wanted to accomplish in the previous five months and see how far I’ve come. I’ll be able to correct course so that the remaining five months are all about doing what I set out to achieve. Groundhog Day fits in perfectly with the new way I’m structuring my calendar. Using the golf metaphor I employed in my book The Front Nine, this is how I’ll break up my year:

  • The Front Nine: September 1st to February 1st
  • The Back Nine: Groundhog Day to July 2nd
  • The 19th Hole: July 3rd (My Birthday) to August 31st

The Front Nine is a time where I’ll start the year strong, hopefully in a way that allows me to be ahead of the game going into the second half of the year — The Back Nine. The Back Nine will give me the opportunity to make up any ground to finish the year well. Then I will enjoy my time on The 19th Hole (the summer months) after the final round of the year has been played.

The biggest lesson to learn here isn’t just to align your calendar year with what works best for you and your family, but also to feel free to evolve how you look at your year. Avoid the temptation to stick with something that no longer works because it’s what others are doing or it’s what you have so vigorously promoted yourself.

Making a change to how you operate doesn’t mean you were wrong when you operated that way before. It just means that you’re no longer compatible with that way of operating anymore.

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