Dr. Kim Burns

I’ve just returned from vacation. A week at the beach is good for the soul. I know I’ve relaxed when I feel ready to jump back into home and work life. (It also helps that it is raining today so I’m not thinking of someone else taking my spot on the beach.)

I’m thankful to my pre-vacation self who kept meetings to a minimum on my re-entry day. I find it helpful to have unscheduled time to ease back into the workweek. My to do list that I had prepared for today, however, is ridiculous and will need to be tweaked.

Here in New England, we are in this liminal space that is late August. Schools and colleges aren’t yet holding classes, but they soon will be. Target’s back-to-school supply shelves are picked over. The malls and outlets are packed. Most K-12 systems will start next week and many colleges will start after Labor Day. The warm weather will continue for several more weeks, and beach bums like me will squeeze in a few more days at the ocean. I’m not ready to let go of summer, where schedules are less hectic and time outdoors is abundant. But, there is the lure of fall. A new academic year is a new beginning. It’s a time when we can start fresh with new goals, new routines, and new habits.

Liminal spaces are those occasions where we are between what was and what is next. They are times of growth and opportunity, even if they feel uncomfortable. The liminal space of late August is a great time to reflect and set goals for the new academic year. How do you want to take advantage of this fresh start?

Here are some reflective questions to help you begin. You can use these as journal prompts, talk them over with your work BFF, or use them as an opener at your next staff meeting.

  • In what ways do you want to show up at work differently so you are being your most authentic self?
  • What knowledge or skill do you want to develop this year? What professional development opportunities will help you?
  • How do you want to approach your morning and evening routines? What needs tweaking?
  • What habits do you want to develop or change?
  • What is one boundary you want to set that will allow for better integration of your work and your personal life?
  • What are three projects that you want to prioritize above everything else? How will you schedule focused time to work on them?
  • In what ways do you want to expand your professional network? Who do you want to get to know?
  • How will you celebrate your accomplishments?

As you reflect, identify a next action step. The investment in crafting a vision about how you want the semester to be will help you get through the trying moments that are sure to come. Identifying a next action step will help you intentionally create an academic year that just may be more manageable. (If all else fails, apple cider donuts and everything pumpkin spice will be here soon to distract you.)

It’s so great to be back after a content-creation hiatus. My next newsletter will be out soon and I have some exciting events planned for the fall (see below for one of them). More to come on those! I would love to hear from you and what you are thinking about as the new academic year begins. You can send me an email at drkimburns@gmail.com, connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. You can also sign up for my monthly newsletter.

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P.S. – If you are interested in structured planning while enjoying an autumn walk with other like-minded people, join us at the October 1 Goals Walk!

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