That September Syndrome

The holiday period is over and we’re looking back wistfully to those feelings of freedom, the precious carefree days with no agenda, That September Syndromethe time to relax and catch up with friends and family and to put

the word ‘career’ to the back of the mind. Now that we are mostly back in a work routine, what does it look and feel like?

September is often the month to start a new contract or a promotion and clients have spoken to me in the past couple of weeks about their anxiety levels in the face of a new role or a new environment. Some equate September with being ‘back to school’ and the associated feelings of being judged, feeling vulnerable, and wishing to be accepted.

Anxiety may be experienced in a combination of the somatic:
Butterflies in the stomach
Sweaty palms
Tension headaches
Stomach lurching
The shakes

and the cognitive:

Why am I here?
Can I do the job?
What will they think about me?
I was doing well in my last role, but I haven’t a clue what I’m doing now
I need to impress them
I need to make my mark


For those who may not be making a change to their professional role, there may be welcome feelings of anticipation for the new season or academic year ahead filled with many possibilities for growth and challenges. On the other hand, some may be experiencing restlessness, inadequacy and frustration at the seeming lack of opportunities to realise their potential.
What can we do to support ourselves during this time and to achieve a sense of equilibrium?


Here are a few suggestions:

  • Monitor the chimp on your shoulder who is saying:
  • ‘you should’
  • ‘you must’
  • ‘you ought to..’
  • ‘try harder’

These are negative and unhelpful messages in my view.

  • When insecurity creeps in, keep your present achievements in mind and acknowledge what you have done well in the past by calling on experiences and successes of whatever type.
  • Take a holistic overview of your skills and attributes rather than measuring yourself solely by your present professional role. You have much to offer and that is why you have been appointed.
  • Do not be afraid of asking for advice or help from your professional network including present and also former colleagues; they will be pleased that you have made contact.
  • Consider seeking a professional coach to support you in peeling back the layers of that September Syndrome and gaining a perspective to aid your wellbeing, confidence and career motivation.