Autumn is my all-time favorite season. I love the smells (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, apples, fresh rain on the pavement, and pumpkin!) I love the colors of fallen leaves: deep reds, oranges and yellows. I especially love that autumn ushers in the start of the holiday season (Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving!)
As the weather cools and we sip our hot drinks, life can start to feel pretty dang cozy. Often fall can instill in us a desire to just hunker down, lay low, and count the days until Christmas and the New Year. Because of this feeling, sometimes Autumn can be a weird time to initiate change. Change is anything except comfortable, and when we’re starting to feel all warm and cozy, why start mixing things up?
However, there is no time like the present to introduce some bold new choices. And nothing symbolizes the boldness of change like the proverbial changing of the seasons!
Maybe there are some things in your life that have started to stale, things that have made you feel a bit complacent, or like you’ve found yourself in a rut. Perhaps you are in a job you don’t love, but feel too afraid to take the leap to something new, especially if you don’t have other work lined up just yet. Maybe you are in a relationship that has been difficult or has left you with more doubts than assurances, but you fear the idea of coping with a breakup during the holidays. Or maybe you’ve got some personal emotional baggage-y things you know you’ve been needing to work through, but there just never seems like a good time to open your heart and mind to dissect what’s wrong.
Unfortunately, there is never going to be a convenient time to make important changes in your life. And if you stick with that mentality, you will never know the joy of letting go of things not suited for you, and making room for things to come into your life that are perfectly suited to you.
Here are some important areas you can make changes this fall!
1. Change Your Attitude
Sometimes what we need isn’t a new job, relationship or haircut. Sometimes what we need is a new attitude. You are not always going to love your job, even if it is your “dream” job. Work is still work, and while you may have a passion for what you do, there will still be days you’d rather be at home in bed, or off on an adventure. Likewise, you are not always going to feel goo-goo-ga-ga feelings for the love of your life. You are going to have days of frustration and boredom because we’re all human. So occasionally we need a little re-up on our perspective and levels of positivity in our life. If you are a religious or spiritual person, an easy way to regain some perspective is to pray or meditate. We can get overwhelmed with our lives, which fosters exhaustion, frustration, and helplessness. Thus, if you have the ability to meditate for even just 15 minutes a day, or take moments to yourself to say some prayers, it can help to alleviate stress and loneliness. Prayer and meditation promote mindfulness. Often the best solution to our daily problems is to simply let go of them, and let God or the Universe or whomever take the reigns for a bit. Worrying is very un-productive.
Another way to gain better perspective is to help others who are in a less fortunate situation than yourself. If you are feeling very “woe is me” it is possible you’ve become a little self-obsessed. There’s no shame in that, everyone does from time-to-time! But our problems start to feel less giant when we take the focus off ourselves and put that focus into helping others. Whether that’s donating your morning to helping out at a food shelter, or if it’s calling your Mom to see how you can assist her for a change.
And always strive to live in an attitude of gratitude. Write down a list of all the things you are grateful for, and watch your attitude change instantly!
2. Change Your Wardrobe
It sounds very silly but changing your wardrobe or hair can be super affective in promoting change in your life. On occasion we might find ourselves really wanting to activate change in our lives, but struggling with where exactly to start. And while changing how you look on the outside will not change the stuff you have going on inside, it will physically represent a commitment to change which you are actively seeking. I find I don’t always feel motivated to do a thing until I am already doing it (ie: working out. I do not want to be working out until I am physically foot-to-pavement exercising and only then do I usually go “oh man I’m so glad I’m doing this!”) So when in doubt, go to a local thrift store, embrace some hand me downs, or use that money you put in savings to buy a new accoutrement that will make you feel fresh and re-invigorated. Get a new haircut or add some bold new color. You’ll be surprised what a new look can do for your attitude and how it might make you feel a little more brave in making those actually important changes in other areas of your life.
3. Change Your Circumstances
Unlike an attitude adjustment, sometimes what we truly need is to get the heck out of our current circumstances. That can be anything from a job we don’t like, a toxic romantic relationship, a harmful friendship, to physically living in an unsafe environment (ie: living with bad roommates, living in a home that has mold, living too far away from your job.) These are usually the hardest things to cut out of our lives. It is terrifying leaving a job if you don’t know where you will go next. But nature abhors a vacuum, and you have to trust that when you open up space for a new job, that a new job will arrive to fill that opening in your life. Relationships are probably the most difficult to change because our whole heart is tangled up in them. It is important to remember that any relationship worth keeping should more often than not be adding positively to your life. You should be currently surrounded by people who build you up, who make you feel strong and capable, and whose energy makes you feel happy. If you are surrounded by people who make you feel heavy, who make you feel exhausted or who make you feel incapable of achieving things, you need to politely say good-bye. Life is too short to have the wrong people in your life. But in order to invite new, healthy relationships in, you do have to fully remove the old ones. If you wanted to buy a new couch, you wouldn’t leave the old couch in the living room would you? That would be weird and crowded. Get rid of the old couch to make room for the new one.
Trust that when you release something that is causing you harm that the world will reward you for your bravery and advocacy of your own needs.
4. Change Your Surroundings
A little escape is good for the soul. Whether you live in suburbia, an urban jungle, or an actual jungle, you probably feel bogged down by a lot of ‘noise.’ I don’t just mean the kind of noise you physically hear, but rather the kind of societal noise that keeps your brain going-going all the time. Between social media, peer expectations, family expectations, self-expectations, it can be really difficult to just shut off and shut everything out. When you feel like you’re drowning a bit in the quagmire of life, I suggest signing off from social media/ internet presence for a month. And/or taking a few days to go be in nature. Sometimes the latter is not an option due to our commitments, but it is an easy enough thing to sign off from facebook or Instagram for a bit.
If you can physically escape your environment, go somewhere that will bring you peace, quiet and tranquility. The desert may not seem like the most inviting place to go, but you will never experience more pure, utter quiet than camping in the desert.
5. Change Your Mind
If you recently committed to something that you no longer wish to follow through with because it doesn’t feel right in your soul, give yourself permission to change your mind. 17 year-old you may have loved the idea of moving to New York and becoming a journalist, but if 27 year-old you no longer connects to that dream, embrace your change of heart.
Some commitments are not easy to simply say “hey, sorry, I changed my mind” to. For example, if you get married it is not as simple as “just changing your mind one day." But when you do find yourself in a spot where perhaps you once believed something, and now you know in your heart that you no longer do, it is okay. You need not punish yourself for a change in heart.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said "Speak what you think today in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it may contradict every thing you said today."
Granted, you don't want to be a person who flip-flops on everything, every single day. if you do, I venture to say no one will trust you anymore. The heart of the matter here, however, is that there are some moments in our lives where we wake up and have to be brutally honest about the change that has occurred in our hearts (whether it was a slow change over a span of years, or a fast over-night change that has overcome us). You have the right to change your mind. You have the right to wake up one morning unsatisfied, and demand a new life. You have the right to switch political parties, religions, careers, opinions, countries of residence, and so on and so on. You are going to be exposed to new circumstances and people that will radically change your world view (and view of yourself.) While it can be very uncomfortable to embrace new thoughts you didn't relate to previously, be gentle with yourself as you explore your new opinions and changes of heart.