I have this new theory that the beginning of fall is really the New Year for artsy, creative, left-brainy types — eternal student types, or really anyone with an itch to put something beautiful or useful into the world. I’ve said it before, but I’ve never understood why people put the New Year in the middle of a dark, cold season when all you want to do is get snuggly and warm in the coziest place possible. Fall — for me at least — has always meant back-to-school, classes starting, pencils sharpened and spandy-new notebooks waiting to be filled with new ideas, lists, projects and just the irresistible sense of endeavor and purpose. I set intentions for my New Year’s in January like tons of other people, but my real sense of drive, energy and directed effort really kicks in during the fall.
But I find the goals set in the autumn differ from the ones you set in January. January resolutions feel more hopeful, but also driven by a sense of “should” or, if we’re kinder to ourselves, “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” You have a whole stretch of a year to fill. Twelve months: anything is possible. It’s great to think pie-in-the-sky, big-picture, fireworks type of goals. You set the tempo and tenor of a year at New Year’s: celebrate the old, wrap a velvet bow on the year and then look forward to the new one. It’s a champagne feeling: buoyant, optimistic, sparkling.
But September resolutions have a different feel and texture to them — one that’s a bit more grounded in reality. There’s no denying there are just four months left in the year. You’ve probably racked up some regrets and wistfulness about what you’ve done and haven’t done. You have experiences, accomplishments, transitions, beginnings and endings — and you can take stock of them. You’re looking at the home stretch and perhaps thinking, “What is it you want this year to truly be known for? What do you really yearn to accomplish?” Or, if you’re really forward-looking, “Where do I want to be so that I begin the next year in the best possible position?”
So I’ve been revisiting my yearly planner that I filled out at the beginning of the year. What I love about that little workbook is that it’s both airy-fairy big picture and nitty-gritty specific — like, “Cultivate equanimity” as well as “read the next two novels in Emile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart cycle.” It’s both reassuring and eye-opening. I set a general intention to have a champagne-y feeling kind of year, really light and sparkling and luminous, and while a few months of the summer kicked my ass and felt anything but luminous, for the most part, the year has felt really lovely and light-filled, and I’m slowly getting back to that feeling. I wanted to get back into riding and I did that. I put out a book. I freshened up my website. I saved money. It’s been good in many ways.
But I’m far from other things: I wanted to travel and broaden my horizons a bit more, finish a whole other novel and a few other things. But now I have a better sense of where my heart truly lies, and I can release some goals and desires and really commit that energy to the things I really want to make happen. It’s a good feeling of clarity married with purpose, with a nice kickstart of purposeful harvest energy — a September feeling.
How about you? Are you setting any goals for yourself for the rest of the year? Are you reevaluating your earlier intentions and desires? What are you releasing or keeping?