7 Ways To Refresh Your Goals In The Fall

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If you start to feel a little restless when the leaves start to turn and fall settles in, you're not alone. Even if you left school years ago, that feeling of fall often evokes the start of a new year or a new term — which can be a little odd if you don't actually have school to go back to. Luckily, that makes fall the perfect time to set new goals — or refresh your goals that you already have.

A lot of us find setting goals helpful and motivating, whether they're personal or professional. They're a great way to get a sense of direction, especially if you're feeling a little lackluster or listless about the current state of things.

"If you aren't happy with where you are, ask yourself what you want in your life and if you have it," Mitzi Brockman, a certified life coach, told Bustle. "If you don't know you can't get it. So figure out what it is and then [...] design a path to get it."

Of course, setting goals is often the easy part — it's sticking to them that can be really tricky. And all too often, if we don't work toward (or even think about) our goals for a while, we start to let them languish by the wayside. So if your goals need a little refresh, here's where to start.

1. Don't Wait Until The Perfect Moment

Have you ever put a goal off for months because it seems easier to start in January? I'm certainly guilty. But if you want to have a new approach to your goals, you can't wait for the perfect moment — start right now. And it's good to continually touch base with yourself to make sure your goals are still a good fit.

"It's great to check in with yourself monthly so you can make sure you are on track in your life for reaching your goals, whatever those may be," author and life coach Jaya Jaya Myra told Bustle. "Things can change quickly, for better or worse, so checking in helps to adjust where needed. To speed up or slow down, or even adjust course."

2. Run Toward, Not Away From

When we think about our goals, sometimes we focus too much on the negative — what we don't want to be anymore, rather than the person we're trying to turn into. But the mindset can hold you back. "Our minds are really powerful, and by focusing on what we don't want, we actually create more of it," Courtney M. Elmer, a stress expert and lifestyle strategist for women, told Bustle.

This fall, try to take a look and refresh your goals with a more optimistic mindset, by focusing on where you're heading.

3. Find A Partner In Crime

OK, this doesn't work for everyone — but I find that some of my goals are so much easier to achieve with friends. I wanted to run a marathon, so three of us started training and did it together. Do you want to read more? Try starting a book group. Sure, some people work better solo — and that's totally fine — but friends can be a great help when it comes to motivation and accountability. Don't be afraid to reach out, especially if you know someone else who's struggling to meet their goals. Find interests that overlap and see what you can tackle as a pair — or even as a group.

4. Have Small And Big Goals

Maybe you have big goals — do a triathlon, write a novel, travel to 15 new countries. And those are all great — but they're also daunting. Diana Fitts, an occupational therapist at The Sensory Toolbox, told Bustle that "goals are too large and too far in the distance" can be tough.

One way you can refresh your goals is "to have some smaller goals mixed in with your larger goals so that you are always feeling as though you are making progress in life," Fitts says. "Smaller goals also give you the fun benefit of celebrating achievements more often, which can be really motivating."

Make sure you're not setting yourself up for failure with big, intangible goals — break them down into smaller steps and see if that helps.

5. Delve Into The Moment

How much are you actually focusing on your goals? Many of us struggle to just break things down and focus on the moment — luckily, you can train yourself to be more present.

"Spend five minutes at the beginning or end of each day writing down what you are grateful for," clinical psychologist Dr. Joshua Klapow, PhD, told Bustle. "Forcing your brain to focus on good things in your life (good day at work, good weather, nice interaction with your partner) also forces you to be more present in your life and look more actively for those positive events.”

Maybe set your small goal of learning how to be more mindful and present this fall — and then see how it affects your other goals.

6. Level With Yourself

Do you have the same goals that have been sitting on your list for months or years — without ever making any progress? Well, it may be that they're just not the right goals for you. Take this fall as an opportunity to level with yourself. Do you really want to climb that mountain — or was it just something you said once that you now feel obligated to do? Do you really dream of med school — or is that just what your parents have been telling you you'd do for your entire life?

Sometimes our goals come from outside sources — or from ourselves, but a past version of ourselves that just doesn't fit anymore. So if you're struggling, take a look and make sure those goals are still authentic to who you are now.

7. Control Your Relationship With Your Phone

OK, a basic point but an important one — your ability to approach any goal, rethink who you are, or just get a single damn thing done can all be hampered by your phone. Not to sound like the anti-technology brigade, but you need to control your distractions. Maybe for you, it's something else — but for many of us it's our phone.

Turning off push notifications, especially on all social media apps, is essential to being productive,” Nicole Durosko, a broker at Warburg Realty, told Bustle. “This will minimize your distractions while checking your emails or getting done with those cold calls you’ve been putting on the back burner.”

The more you can control distractions, the more productive you'll be — and the more time you'll have to focus on those goals.

You may not be heading back to school this fall, but it's still the perfect time for a refresh. There's no point in waiting until January, use this time to take a look at your goals and reevaluate and refocus. There's no better time than right now.