Do you have back-to-school Syndrome?

Back to school syndrome

You’re feeling a nervous, jittery anticipation of something – you just don’t know what…you have an urge to change something, your appearance, your job – just something. But hold fire – if you’re not careful you could be unwittingly about to make a very big, very expensive, mistake.

I’ve seen it – people completely switching careers, giving up their days jobs, eating into their life’s savings while they retrain for a completely different job, to discover that actually, it’s not for them (and yes, coaching is one of those jobs – I’ve worked with many a new coach who’s reached this point).

Why does this happen?

Throughout the most formative years of our lives, we spend the summers of our childhood and teenage years relaxing and then gearing ourselves up for the new school year and university year, ahead.

Over fourteen to seventeen years of going through this repeated cycle, your brain has been hard-wired to get ready for new beginnings, and new experiences in September. Because of this, it will do anything it can to repeat this cycle (good or bad) – hence this deep urge for change – at this time of year.

Studies show that 70% of us are more likely to make big life-changing decisions in September and October. I can certainly concur with that – these two months have consistently been my busiest months for the past twelve years – way ahead of the expected January and it’s ‘new year new beginnings’ connotations.

But it’s important to know this is happening, otherwise, you could unconsciously end up making a very big, expensive, rash decision during this time, rather than a wise, life-affirming one.

This is of course on top of the added pressures of the Covid situation, and the fact that many of us have had some very real, soul-searching learnings during lockdown with regards to what we do and don’t want for our lives and careers from now on.

How to not make the mistakes I’ve seen people make

The number one mistake I see people consistently making at this time of year is thinking that an external factor will scratch this ‘back to school itch’. Thinking exterior things (‘sticking plasters’ as I call them) will make you feel better or are the answer to any sense of dissatisfaction (at this time of year or any time of year) is a recipe for expensive mistakes.


Because the answer is ALWAYS within you, not outside of you.

Here are a few things clients have done before they came to me and started doing the real work – discovering what would make them truly happy and fulfilled.

What NOT to do:
  • Drastically change your appearance
  • Quit your job and decide to completely retrain
  • Move to a new town / city
  • End your relationship

Instead, here are my top tips on how to make the most of BTSS and make this autumn ‘term’ the best yet:

  1. Take a serious look at, and assess your life now, as it is, score the areas of your life out of ten for fulfillment: home / career / money / health wellness and fitness / friends and family / sig other / sense of purpose / fun and recreation. Which areas score worse than you would like? Have you been feeling like this for sometime, or is this a sudden, strong feeling? What can you practically do? (with research and due diligence)
  1. If there is one area that’s seriously lacking, visualise – what would it look like as a ten out of ten? Create a clear, compelling vision for a year’s time then revers engineer with a timeline and specific measurable goals top achieve along the way. For example if you are considering a role or career change what new skills do you need to learn and by when, what is your income tipping point before you jump ship?
  1. Identify the one fear that’s stopping you – where did this fear come from, whose is it, what facts is it based on?
  1. Do a values clarification exercise – ie. sit down with your clear vision and going through the details of it, ask yourself the questions: “what’s important about that to me?” and “what does that give me?” discover for example, whether learning is important for you, or autonomy gives you want you want.
  1. Consider this question:
This is your one life. Are you fully living it? If not, why, and what are you waiting for?

If you are currently feeling dissatisfied with where you are in your career (and have been feeling like this for sometime now), if you’re considering your next step, either in your current role or you want to explore external possibilities, you can get detailed versions of the above exercises by downloading Chapter 1 of my new book here:

Need help redesigning your life + career? There are a few ways I can do that
    • To get clear on what you do and don’t want in your life + career moving forward, get my book Change Your Life in 5 for free now (just pay P+P). Click here
    • Ready to get unstuck in just one hour – and moving forward into the next phase of your life? Book a power-hour Reset Session with me now click here
    • If you’re ready to do more in-depth or longer-term work on redesigning your life + career, I’ve opened up a few slots for working with me 1-1. Book your free Discovery Call with me by clicking here and find out how I can help.
    • If you are interested in Leadership (including remote leadership) + Executive Coaching for you or your team, find out more about my unique Conscious Leader programme by clicking here

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