4 ways to find renewal this fall
Stuck in a rut? Try these four ideas to reenergize, refocus and reset your lifeBy Victoria Joanna Bailey
As the lazy, hazy days of summer come to an end, you may be torn between longing for a few more weeks of summer bliss yet also feeling excited about the start of September. There’s something about fall that’s particularly energizing. Perhaps it’s the cool fresh breeze in the air, or the anticipation of beautiful fall colours, the sweet smell of pumpkin and spices, or the exciting energy of “new beginnings.”
At this time of year, you may find yourself feeling like you’re in a bit of a rut. Believe it or not, many of us actually get off track with our goals during the summer. Although we often equate warm weather with more energy and assume we get more done, there are actually more distractions in the summer: barbecues, cottage weekends, summer parties and vacations. We tend to drink more, eat more and depart from our regular routine.
While fall may mean “back to school” and “back to work,” when it comes to getting back on track with our goals, many of us wait until January to make any significant changes or commitments. The idea of achieving any big goals at this stage in the year can be a bit overwhelming if you perceive the year to be drawing to a close. However, consider how much easier it is to start something new in the excitement and energy of September versus the cold, grey, post-holiday eating “hangover” of the New Year. September, on the other hand, is all about “new.” New school year, new fall clothes, new season and new goals.
This is actually the perfect time of year to recommit and refocus! If you are feeling stuck, unmotivated or uninspired, here are four ways you can use the energy of the season to your advantage.
1. Make a mental shift
Many of us naturally feel a sense of energy and vitality during this time of year, yet we may not make a conscious decision to approach the fall season with a heightened commitment to ourselves and to our goals.
Make a mental shift this year. Rather than waiting for January before you set goals and make changes, think of September as the official “new year.” When you shift your thinking you can approach your commitments with a new sense of possibility and inspiration. Don’t wait and put off the things you want to accomplish. By the time the new year comes around you will feel less overwhelmed and much happier about the progress you’ve already made.
2. Take inventory of your goals
You don’t necessarily have to create new goals right now. The fall season is also a great time to check in on your progress on the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Most people set New Year's resolutions and never think about them again until the following January, often to find that they didn’t accomplish what they set out to do. If you want to achieve results in any area of your life, it’s important to check in and evaluate your progress.
This is often easier said then done. Life gets in the way and we simply get busy and forget to look back on what we aimed for in January. That’s why it’s great to use September as a reminder. Create a ritual, perhaps during the last long weekend of the summer. Spend an hour looking back at your goals and take the time to consciously plan your action steps for the next four months. Ask yourself what you can accomplish between now and December 31 and then create a plan of smaller monthly goals to keep you motivated and on track.
3. Celebrate your accomplishments
We are often better at noticing what is missing in our lives than everything we have to be grateful for. We are particularly neglectful at recognizing our own accomplishments. Setting goals and wanting more for ourselves and our lives is a good thing—it keeps us from complacency and settling for “good enough." However, if we don’t balance it with focusing on what we have already accomplished, we can end up in a permanent state of dissatisfaction.
This time of year is also a great time to check in on your accomplishments. Consciously celebrate and acknowledge the areas in your life where you are doing well, where you’ve grown and made progress, where you’ve already achieved what you set out to do or taken steps in the direction of your goals. Be grateful for the many blessings in your life. If you don’t cultivate the practice of gratitude, you may fall into a pattern of always chasing the next goal and never being satisfied or happy with what you have or who you are. A healthy balance between striving for the future and enjoying the present moment will allow you to experience greater joy in your life.
4. Go back to school
Don’t worry! This isn’t about going back to get your Master's or PhD (though if you want to, that’s fantastic). Most people stop learning after they finish high school or college, yet learning is what keeps us young and alive. It feeds our curiosity and gives us focus and direction, especially if we are learning about something we love.
Perhaps you have always wanted to speak Spanish, learn to tango or cook like a professional chef. As the kids go back to school, consider doing the same thing. Sign up for a course in something you are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. By giving yourself a few hours a month to enjoy and explore your passions, you can reignite your excitement for life, and create a new sense of focus and anticipation that comes from stepping out of your comfort zone.
Find your motivation
Life is busy. Getting off track is going to happen and that’s okay. The key is to create checkpoints for yourself that help you to refocus and regain your motivation. The fall season is one of the best times to do this. Not only will this help you make more progress during the year but by the time January 1 rolls around, you will already be well on your way toward achieving your goals.
Victoria Joanna Bailey is a life coach and nutritionist, committed to helping people make lasting changes that lead them on the path to health, happiness and a fulfilling life.
Don't miss out! Sign up for our free weekly newsletters and get nutritious recipes, healthy weight-loss tips, easy ways to stay in shape and all the health news you need, delivered straight to your inbox.
Web exclusive, September 2010