Autumn has often been called the other January and the real New Year, as back-to-school season and the transition to fall beckons new routines.
According to a survey, 69% of British adults believe small improvements in September are easier to achieve than New Year’s resolutions. More than half of those surveyed (56%) said they want to make small, positive lifestyle changes before the Christmas season. So what’s so special about the fall?
Autumn offers a chance for a clean slate
In her book Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin identifies 21 strategies we can use to master new habits and one of them is the "Strategy of the Clean Slate." When we go through big transitions—like starting a new job or new school year— we’re presented with a clean slate. And these windows of time are ripe for shedding bad habits and replacing them with good habits with more ease, says Rubin.
If you’re among the 11% of Americans who’ve recently relocated, consider your slate even more primed for taking up new goals and habits. Rubin references a study that involves people trying to make a change — such as a change in career or education, relationships, addictive behaviors, health behaviors, and change in perspective. In this study, 36% of successful changes were associated with a move to a new location.
Tips for creating new habits
Whether you’ve recently moved or associate pumpkin spice season with the feeling that anything is possible, here are three ways to harness autumn’s clean slate to create new habits.
1. Get confident
Whether you’re looking to make a career change or spend more time cooking healthy dishes, self-doubt is ready to tell you to STOP before you even start. Build your defense against self-doubt with this confidence-boosting exercise from Susie Moore.
First, break up your life into thirds. If you’re 30 years old, that’s pretty easy. 0–10 is your first third, 11–20 is your second third, and 21–30 is your final third. On a piece of paper or in your Notes apps, think of three things that you’re really proud of from the first third.
Maybe your parents got divorced and you’re proud of how you adapted and recovered from that life change. Maybe you moved to a new town and are proud of the relationships you built, or you never missed a day of school. Whatever they are, write down your three things.
Now do the same thing for the second and final thirds. Identify experiences or accomplishments that occurred during each age range that you’re proud of. Then look at all of the personal and professional accomplishments you listed. You’re pretty awesome, huh?!
The next time personal development self-doubt creeps in, look at and reflect on the nine things you wrote down. You’re full of worth. You add value. You can do hard things.
2. Make a wish
In Yale’s The Science of Well-being course, I learned about the WOOP method, “a science-based mental strategy that people can use to find and fulfill their wishes, set preferences, and change their habits.”
Over 20 years of research shows that using the WOOP method—which stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan—can reduce stress, increase work engagement, improve time management, and promote physical health. The process of making a wish using WOOP takes about five minutes and can be used for any goal. Make your first WOOP here and once you’re hooked you can download the app on iOS or Android.
3. Put a stop to energy-draining habits
Feeling fatigued? In addition to boosting your energy with healthy practices like eating the rainbow and moving your body, be mindful of any habits that might be sucking your energy, such as binge-watching emotionally charged TV. Understandably, it can be difficult to stay consistent.
Trait identification—imagining yourself experiencing the same feelings and events as a specific character—can lead to emotional exhaustion. And sustained high-intensity emotions from watching shows that make you feel anxious/sad/scared can leave you in a state of overstimulation. This mental fatigue makes it difficult for you to focus and leads to poor energy levels, according to Tyson Lippe, a psychiatrist.
Lippe says we often underestimate what can drain our stamina. Look out for these mindless habits that may be draining your energy:
- Waiting too long between meals
- Working at a cluttered desk
- Planning too far in advance
- Having too many open tabs
- Answering every phone call
- Shallow breathing
- Letting tiny tasks pile up
The Haven community is embracing the fresh start that comes with the autumn equinox. We welcome all of the new faces entering our space and invite new and old members to join in on one of our weekly walking groups. Visit the front desk to get connected.