Every year at this time many of us talk about how September feels like someone has pushed the restart button and given us just a few more months to reach those yearly goals.
Of course this is linked to our “back to school” years when everything did change drastically from one year to the next, but even if you’re not headed back to school, the fall — the literal season of change — is the perfect time to take even one small step toward whatever new habit, hobby, activity, or whatever you’d love to pursue.
You already know that I began a new venture last month while letting go of a long-standing job as well. I’ve also taken on a few different, new projects, and I have to say, it’s all very exciting. Lots of changes in the air, for sure, but I’m also reflecting on a minor but huge change I made last year at this time:
I stopped putting sugar in my cappuccino.
Even though I’ve always had a sweet tooth, I never used sugar in American coffee. I’m not sure why I started using it when I moved to Italy — I guess just because I saw everyone else doing it, and darn it, it does taste pretty good with that touch of sweet.
Then one morning, last year around this time, I decided no more sugar in the cappuccino, iced coffee, espresso, etc. Nothing. Yes, the first few sips were a shock to the system, but by the third day or so, I didn’t notice anymore. Now I don’t even think about it.
I was able to succeed with the sugar, and a funny thing has happened along the way. My sweet tooth? It’s kind of disappearing. I no longer crave sweet — unless it’s a banana or handful of grapes. Who knew that the key to craving less sugar was eating less sugar? Huh.
But that was it. Just like that:
Decision to stop (or start) doing something + follow-through = new daily habit.
OK, so the follow-through isn’t always going to be easy. You’re going to have to make that decision to go forward many times over, every day most likely. Over and over. Again and again. Even when you don’t really *want* to do (or not do) whatever it is you decided was worth doing. Especially then, in fact.
So when it comes to those moments, remember back to the excitement with which you started your project. All those awesome reasons you knew this was something you just *had* to do. Think about what you’re working toward, and how great it’s going to feel when you’ve achieved that goal.
And then do it. Just. Do. It.
Sorry to sound like a Nike ad, but I’m really starting to believe no truer words have ever been plastered on the side of a bus.
And autumn is the perfect time to begin with that first step toward achieving your goal, isn’t it? I love fall.
“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~ George EliotI’m an autumn baby, so I think that has something to do with my attraction to this season, but even though the cooler weather hasn’t exactly kicked in yet in southern Italy, I’m already looking forward to sweaters, the stufa going strong with a fire, vendemmia, cuddling up with P again, and heck, I’m going to put it out there right now — I’m doing NaNoWriMo once again this year. Gah!
For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is short for “National Novel Writing Month” and it’s kind of online support group in which participants strive to write a 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time — November. I’ve done this in the past and technically “won” by reaching the mark, but you may have noticed I haven’t plugged my own novel yet. Boo.
So this year, I’m doing things differently — I can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, right? So instead of going in with only a vague idea of the story I want to tell like I’ve done in the past, I’ve already been outlining and mapping things out and will continue to do so throughout October. Over the years, I have learned that I find it much easier to sit down and write if I already have at least a rough plan in front of me. Some writers love flying by the seat of their desk chairs, but I find that without some guidance, I can quickly write myself write into a big ole corner. And that’s gotta stop.
Making changes in your life is all about discovering what works for you and what doesn’t.
Sometimes it takes a while, years even, to find that groove, and what you discover may not be what works for anyone else in the entire world, but that’s not your concern. Your concern is you, and finding what keeps you motivated and moving in a positive direction. Heck, even finding your positive direction can be a huge challenge. Are you up for it?
Are you making any changes this fall?