Holly Richardson: Autumn is the perfect time to set new goals

(Erin Alberty|The Salt Lake Tribune) Autumn leaves radiate color around the Cascade Springs Trail on Oct. 9, 2017 in Wasatch County.

A drop in temperature, snow on the mountain peaks and leaves changing color? Yes, please! This weekend’s weather change is most welcome, as it signals the end of energy-draining heat and the advent of my favorite season of the year.

In the beautiful but fading colors of fall, people often sees reminders to slow down, to reflect, to appreciate nature’s “grand finale” and appreciate the lessons of the trees on how healthy it can be to just “let go.”

But have you noticed the local nurseries have flats of pansies for sale? Those pansies can be planted in the fall, when they will begin to grow. Throughout the fall and the winter, they are busy putting down roots and growing stronger, so that when the snows melt, the pansies are lush and full.

Fall, for the pansies, is a season of growth! I love that.

I love that it’s still too early to stress out about Christmas (which, I know, is right around the corner). I love that the sweltering days are gone, leaving autumn as the season that is “just right.” Just right for planting bulbs, just right for a “fall cleaning” of the house, just right for resetting goals for the year’s final quarter.

I’m with F. Scott Fitzgerald when he said, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

A recent report from Pinterest shows that every year, “searches for organization, routine, positivity, and goal setting spike twice — once during the new year as resolutions are in full swing, and again right before fall.”

“Over the years, we’ve seen the end of summer become a distinct and significant moment on Pinterest when people want to make personal changes to refresh their routines, set goals, get organized and most importantly, stay positive,” says Enid Hwang, culture and community manager at Pinterest.

We’ve all heard the stats: The average New Year resolution setter makes it about mid-way through January before they’ve given up on the “resolutions.” Maybe the reason is those resolutions are the ones people feel they “should” make, not the ones they really want to make. One writer said, “January resolutions are about will; September resolutions are about authentic wants.”

Maybe it’s that the last quarter of the year goes by so quickly (one more month until Halloween, two until Thanksgiving and barely three until Christmas) that autumn goals are more realistic, most focused on small wins that can add up to big changes.

Vancouver-based educator Mehrnaz Bassiri said in her TEDx talk on starting small to achieve success, “Small wins have a transformational power. Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion to favor another small win and another small win until the combination of these small wins lead to larger and greater accomplishments.”

She has a few suggestions.

Judge realistically. Sometimes we see “miracle stories” and think that if we don’t match them (in weight loss, bank account size or academic accolades, for example) that we have somehow failed. Not so. Those small wins can really add up. I wish I could say I found a miracle diet that let me lose 45 pounds in 45 days. I didn’t. But I did find one that has helped me lose 45 pounds in three years.

Next, keep track of your wins. Journaling in all its varieties is a great way to see progress over time. And, she notes, find a small support group.

“Research shows that when we share our big and important goals with other people, as soon as we receive social acknowledgement and social recognition, our brains get tricked into thinking that we’ve already accomplished that goal,” she says, making it harder to actually achieve those goals.

Pick one or two people to share those goals with and who will cheer you on along the way and get going!

It’s the perfect time.

| Courtesy Holly Richardson, op-ed mug.

Holly Richardson, a regular contributor to The Salt Lake Tribune, has modest goals: plant daffodils, tulips and irises. Sew dolly sleeping bags. And gear up for the most stressful holiday of the year.