How to Reset for a New SeasonOct 06, 2021
It’s that time of year again. It’s not technically the New Year, but to me, fall has always represented a fresh beginning.
As a child, September brought to life an obvious new start--- A new teacher, a different classroom, untarnished supplies, and fresh ink on a new planner. (Well, I’m actually a pencil kind of gal. But you get the idea.)
Now, as the mornings grow cooler and the trees more colorful, I feel myself filled with the same eagerness to start anew. But unlike in childhood school days, this fresh beginning is not marked by some orchestrated shift in environment. In fact, if not deliberately cultivated, opportunities for reflection and intention at the start of a new season can easily pass us by. And in my own experience, it is the years where I forget (or simply forgo) my seasonal reset, that I’m left feeling scattered and overwhelmed a few weeks in.
Therefore, at the start of each new season, I now conduct a quarterly reset. And regardless of what the season is for you, you can use this process any time that you’d like to create a new start.
After experimenting with a variety of “reset” activities over the years, here’s the system that I’ve found works for me. My resets contain three into three parts: Looking back, looking around, and looking ahead.
1. Looking back
Looking back is all about reflection-- An opportunity to take stock of how things have been going and how far you’ve come.
If journaling is your thing, you can free-style the answers to the questions below. Otherwise, you’re welcome to bullet point. Either way though, I recommend actually writing your answers. I’ve found (and science confirms) that putting pen to paper activates the mind in a way that merely mentally contemplating and/or typing cannot.
When you’re ready, consider the following prompts:
- Big wins: What wins have you experienced in the last quarter? Where have you succeeded? What goals have you accomplished? What do you feel good about? What’s going right?
This is your chance to ponder what is going well. Remember, while success sometimes takes the form of checking a big goal off your list, smaller and less “remarkable” successes are often meaningful. For example, learning how to set healthy boundaries or consistently engaging in a new daily practice can also be life-changing and noteworthy.
Big or small, note any meaningful “wins” you’ve experienced.
- Highlights: When you look back over the last quarter, what has been the most enjoyable? Which days, events, or occurrences stand out as particularly special? What have been your highlights?
Reminiscing on positive experiences can be a powerful practice unto itself. In fact, recalling pleasurable memories is believed to lower cortisol levels, and is correlated with lower stress and fewer negative self-appraisals in individuals at high risk for depression.
But beyond its feel-good properties, reminiscing on our “highlights” can help us learn more about ourselves (our likes, dislikes, etc.), and can guide us in planning upcoming months. More on this later in the “looking ahead” section of this reset.
- What’s not working?: Where in your life is there considerable friction? On a daily or weekly basis, what causes repeated frustration? Consider various areas of your home, relationships, work life, personal goals, productivity systems, and digital atmosphere. What is one area in which a simple change could make an impact?
Something may jump immediately to mind. But if not, pay careful attention to your emotions and thoughts over the next few days. Notice when you become agitated, and pay particular attention to instances where the locus of control lies with you.
For an example of how I shifted an ineffective system in my own life, check out my video on this topic.
2. Looking around
After you’ve delved into the past-- considering your wins, highlights, and frustrations-- it’s time to take a look at the space surrounding you at the present moment.
The “looking around” portion of this reset is all about cleaning and clearing your physical and digital environments. If you’re anything like, well, most people, you probably have a space in your life that could use a little love. Is your kitchen junk drawer overflowing? Is your car in desperate need of a wash? Does your closet need some attention?
When conducting a “reset,” it can be tempting to try to tackle everything at once; But I recommend narrowing your focus to 1-3 high-impact areas. Personally, this year I focused on deep cleaning my car, organizing my closet, and deleting a small percentage of my (highly overcrowded) iPhone photos.
Regardless of which spaces you select, cleansing your physical and digital spaces helps you capitalize on those ~fresh start vibes~, and removes the clutter that’s been distracting or weighing you down.
For inspiration to tackle some of these heavily-ignored problem areas, check out my Productive Day in the Life vlog, where I check off a plethora of little “life maintenance” tasks that I had long been procrastinating.
3. Looking ahead
Part 3 of the seasonal reset entails preparing for the months to come. Here are a handful of activities I’ve found useful in inspiring me at the start of a new season.
1. Create a visual collage that encapsulates the emotions you want to feel. Unlike a traditional “vision board,” this visual collage is not about “calling in” the specifics of the life you’re creating. Instead, the collage calls you to reflect on how you want to feel, which, in my experience, is vastly more impactful than conventional vision boarding. Consider the photos, colors, and symbols that spark that emotion inside of you. Browse Unsplash, Pixabay, or Canva for inspiration.
Place the collage somewhere you can refer to frequently for a boost of good feels. Personally, I arrange digital photos online using Canva, and then designate it as my laptop background for the season (to watch me do this, check my Fall Reset video) But props to you if you actually print your photos and arrange them by hand.
“Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. If your goals aren’t synced with the substance of your heart, then achieving them won’t matter much.” ~Danielle Laporte
2. Select a book that relates to a habit you want to build, a goal you want to achieve, or a feeling you want to experience. I’ve found that for most people, this looks like something from a non-fiction or personal-development-related genre, but it doesn’t have to be. I recommend looking up books relevant to whatever intention you’ve selected, and selecting one that you’ll read over the next season.
3. Finally, take out your calendar and schedule some FUN. It can be ridiculously easy to get caught in mundane routines, especially as our calendars fill up with mandatory work and social events.
This is your chance to ensure you don’t accidentally go the next three months without making time for what you actually enjoy. This is the perfect opportunity to look back at the list of highlights you made in Part 1 of this reset, and to schedule more of those in the future. When considering your past positive experiences, notice any similar threads. Do you tend to prefer solo or group events? Nights out or days lost in the woods? Active, adrenaline-pumping pastimes, or quiet, reflective moments? When in doubt, I’ve always found time in nature (regardless of the season!) to be a solid and satisfying experience.
There you have it. A three part reset to leave you feeling refreshed and energized for the season ahead. And again, regardless of what season it is for you right now, taking time to deliberately welcome the upcoming chapter is a powerful way to set your intentions and start this portion of your journey off on the right foot.
For additional information, or to watch me complete parts of this reset, check out my video “Fall Reset | My seasonal reset routine.”