Your “back to school” days may be in the past, but most of us continue to see the fall as some kind of a new or fresh start. Let’s face it. The fall does seem like the start of a “New Year”. Many businesses plan fall retreats and there’s a general feeling in the air that it’s time to get new supplies for the fall. (I even bought a package of brand new pens the other day). Some research even suggests that it is easier to try and start a new habit at the beginning of the school year than at the beginning of the calendar year.
So instead of waiting for January 1 (which seems a long way off!), take a moment this fall to look at areas of your life that may need attention and set a plan to make a change, or try something different.
There’s a few simple tips that help with this exercise (and make it a bit more fun!)
1. Small Steps Only – Don’t be afraid to make a small move or change; every step moves you toward a goal. If you want to cut back on sugar, for example, cut back by one soda or 1-2 desserts a week. You’re more likely to reach your goal and feel better about it.
2. Set Yourself up for Success – Success is a strong motivator. You can only do what is reasonable for you. A 20 minute walk may not be as impressive as running a mile, but 20 minutes may be more realistic for you. Over time, you can increase your commitment.
3. Pick 3, Not 10 – You may have a dozen habits you want to change, or goals to reach, but force yourself to focus on 2-3 (even one, if it’s an important one). At the end of the year, you’re going to asses your progress so don’t try to do too much at once. You can’t do it all. Perhaps this time it’s a health goal, or a social to get together with more friends.
4. Goals Versus Objectives – A goal is a stated end result. But objectives must be measurable (by dollars, pounds, hours, etc.) Once you set a goal, set a measurable objective. This keeps your goal reasonable and is a great way to know when you’ve achieved success. For example, if your goal is to get more sleep, set down an objective of 8 hours a night and keep track for 2 weeks.
5. Buddy Up – Consider getting a friend in on the plan. For example, if you want to add in some exercise, walking or running with a friend makes sure you don’t skip it. The same for a trip to the gym: buddy up so your “brain” won’t talk you out of the activity at the last minute!
6. Reward Yourself – Be kind to you. When you’ve had success, promise yourself a treat: perhaps a favourite drink, or a massage, or a new pair of running shoes – whatever you consider a “pat on the back”.