8 Ways to Give Your Life A Fall Overhaul

Certain times of year are perfect for fresh starts like New Year’s resolutions or spring cleaning. For me, fall feels like the best time to make life changes. Maybe it’s the deeply ingrained ‘back-to-school’ vibe. Maybe the changing colors of the leaves are a metaphor for the changes in my life (okay, it’s not that).  Maybe, pre-holiday panic creeps in.  Whatever it is, if you’re feeling inspired to make some changes this fall, here are my back-to-school inspired suggestions.

1. Give yourself a report card.

If you’re the New Year’s resolution type, now is a great time to follow up on your resolutions. Be honest with yourself, but don’t beat yourself up, either. Evaluate what progress you’ve made (or not), and then decide if these are things you want to follow through on, or if what you thought was a good goal in January doesn’t make sense right now. This sort of evaluation also works if you (like me) had a summer ‘must-do’ list that wasn’t completed. Find one thing you think you can actually accomplish. Whether it’s actually flossing your teeth every day or finding time to go paddle boarding before summer ends, pick one thing from your list and make it happen. Then, give yourself an A for effort.

2. Go back to school shopping (even if you’re not going back to school).

New clothes were always one of the best parts of a new school year, and I don’t see why we should be denied this joy as adults. Of course, as a kid, you were literally outgrowing clothes, making new ones a necessity. As adults, we don’t have that built-in mechanism for swapping out our clothes, so take time to go through your closet and get rid of what you’ve metaphorically outgrown. Those sundresses in your closet that you literally never wore this summer? Maybe it’s finally time to let them go so you can make room for some new fall sweaters.

3. Take PE.

I loathed gym class as a kid. It was 45 minutes I dreaded everyday, but as an adult, I love working out. For someone with no hand eye coordination, having other kids throw balls in your direction will always be dreadful, but there are far more options for physical activity as an adult.  Even if you think you don’t like exercising, I bet you can find one activity you don’t totally hate and commit to it at least once a week. If you actually enjoyed gym class, kickball leagues abound, and if not, there are many options out there that won’t make you feel uncool for failing the President’s Challenge Physical Fitness Test.

4. Educate yourself.

Just because you’re not actually going back to school doesn’t mean you can’t be learning. Pick up a book on something that’s always peaked your curiosity. Finally sign up for that Spanish class at a community college. If you’re feeling exceptionally ambitious, maybe now’s the time to finally start looking into that graduate degree you’ve mentioned. Big or small, try something that broadens your intellectual horizons. You never know where it could lead.

5. Join a club.

Extracurricular activities were always one of my favorite parts of school. It’s no longer necessary to pad your college applications, but being part of a club is still worthwhile. It might not be as convenient as checking out booths at an activities fair, but do a Google search on groups in your area focused on hiking or knitting or volunteering or whatever is your activity of choice. Whether you’re looking to try something new or just meet more people who share your interests, it’s quite likely there’s a Meetup group for that.

6. Ask out your crush (or take another romantic risk).

High school crushes were pretty much the worst, at least for me. I mean sure, it was nice to have a reason to actually be excited about going to World History, but then if you told them you liked them and they didn’t feel the same way, history class could feel horrendously awkward for the rest of the school year. Fortunately, we don’t have that sort of forced proximity to most people we know as adults, so just ask your crush out already.

If you don’t have a crush, I still firmly believe fall is the time for romantic risk-taking if you’re not satisfied with your love life. If you haven’t met anyone in ages, try something new – go online if you’ve been reluctant, or download a new app. If you’ve been online shopping for a significant other without success, try going to a bar by yourself, or go speed dating (that’s still a thing, right?). If you’re coupled up but not sure you want to remain that way, I firmly believe that fall is the best time to break up. You’ve survived wedding season and don’t have to worry about showing up dateless, and if you wait until November, you’re faced with three solid months of “Well, I can’t dump someone right before Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hannukah/New Year’s/Valentine’s Day.” I’m not saying it’ll be fun, but chronologically, now is the time.

7. Find one rule to break.

In school, someone else dictates the rules, which means we’re more inclined to break them, because we didn’t make them. As adults, we frequently make our own rules, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be broken, particularly those made for good reasons at the time, but are no longer serving a good purpose. “I don’t go out on weeknights.”  “I don’t eat carbs.”  “I don’t date Republicans/Democrats/Libertarians/anarchists/whatever.” Pick a rule that may have been holding you back more than it’s been helping you out, and see what happens when you break it. Just make sure it’s one of your own rules, or perhaps a societal convention if you’re feeling daring. All of the ‘actual Federal law’ type rules, I recommend you follow.

8. Set a bedtime.

Remember how a school bedtime felt like the worst thing in the world? These days, I wish there was a responsible person around to make me go to bed at 8 o’clock, or that going to bed at 8 was even an option. Still, getting good sleep is key to making other changes stick, so for a week, try setting a realistic bedtime, stick to it, and see what happens. That episode of Orphan Black will still be there in the morning.

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