Have You Updated Your OS Lately?

Have You Updated Your OS Lately?

Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Tips + Tools

“I think I’m an Apple person. Yep, I’ve decided it. I’m switching out everything.”

This was my husband, about a month ago.

My PC-using, iPhone-carrying husband, tired of multiple brands and multiple systems, decided that he would no longer be using anything that was more than one degree away from Steve Jobs. Everything needed to “match.” He sounded like a close relative of Justin Long in those commercials from the early 2000s.

 

Also my husband about a month ago:

“I’m think I’m a PC person. Yep, I’ve decided it. No Apple for me”

No, that’s not a typo. After going all-in on the Apple ecosystem, my MacBook-using, iPhone-carrying husband decided he was tired of learning new keyboard functions and computer basics after a lifetime of PC use. But, of course, everything needed to “match.”

Goodbye iPhone, hello Pixel.

Goodbye Justin Long, hello PC Man.

Confusing, I know (less so if you know he’s a Gemini, but that’s a whole other conversation). And, admittedly, a very privileged back-and-forth to even be having — one we definitely wouldn’t have been having years ago when we both worked for larger corporations and didn’t rely SO heavily on our own devices. We’re both pretty conservative with our spending, and cringe whenever we see the price tag on a new computer or phone (even the refurbished ones). Some people have to pay rent on office space to run their company, some people have to buy school supplies or specific outfits. Tech is our main business investment, and an investment worth making — especially now that so much of the work we used to do in-person is now virtual.

Jeremy is a brand + business strategist, which means he spends his days growing businesses by hland on who they are, what they stand for, and how that manifests out there in the world. This is both an asset and a roadblock. While it makes him hyper self-aware and inquisitive by nature, it can also lead him down roads he might not have traveled otherwise.

“What’s your favorite movie?” isn’t just a small-talk ice breaker — it’s a way to tell someone else exactly who you are and what you value.

“How do you want your hair cut?” isn’t just about what flatters your face shape or what feels practical/on-trend/whatever you’re going for — it’s about what you want to say before you even open your mouth.

In his quest to “streamline” his technology, Jeremy — my insightful, inquisitive Gemini husband — wasn’t just deciding on a computer or phone.

He was deciding on an identity.

(Or so he thought.)


The whole “your phone/computer/headphones/tablet/whatever is your identity” thing is the exact narrative those early Mac vs. PC Guy were capitalizing on. According to the commercials, if you were a Mac person, you were cool, laid back, young. PC Guy? All business. No fun. Awkward. (cue the dramatic music) Outdated.

Of course, this isn’t true at all. Or rather, the truth of it depends on YOU, the consumer, and your experience. But the idea of a defined and streamlined narrative is so alluring…so aspirational…a lot of us will go to great lengths to make it happen. So muchso, that we’ll even trade in what we love for the promise of a vague “better.”

~

Self-help culture has us obsessed with the big shifts and life overhauls. Do a quick internet search or bookstore browse of mainstream self-help hits and you’ll see phrases like find your calling, unlock your true purpose, and change your life.

All of which imply that you’ve got to leave one thing behind in order to access the other.

The better, brighter, other.

Is that sometimes true? Sure. Sometimes you do need to quit the job, leave the relationship, pack up the house, delete your social media.

But what about all of those other times? The times you actually love your job, are all-in on your relationship, feel so very at home, enjoy “Liking” your friends’ posts…and still, you feel like something is just off?

What about then?

Are you supposed to assume you can’t trust your contentment?

Should you assume that leaving, quitting, packing, deleting are the inevitable answers?

~

The answer, of course, is no. Just like Jeremy eventually realized, who you are isn’t just about what you do, it’s about how you do it.

He didn’t need the phone in his hand to be a full-on personality trait.

What he DID need, though, was an update to his OS: his operating systems.


The phone-person metaphors are aplenty.
I think one of the reasons we’re intrigued by personal computers and cell phones is that they hold so many of our memories. And not just the photos we took at lunch with the fam. We literally use them to help us remember stuff. I know that the second I find out a friend’s birthday, I program it into my calendar. Got an interesting recommendation for a book? Write it in the Notes app or on a desktop “Sticky.” Back everything up to “the cloud” and you’re good to go. If you’re reading this, you’re reading it on a device of some kind — which means that you too have what’s akin to a second brain.

It’s pretty amazing, and yet sometimes I’ve found myself longing for the days of the physical Day Planners and oversized desk calendars. I’ve tried both, multiple times, and while I got a sweet hit of nostalgia as I penciled in my appointments, I ultimately got overwhelmed and had to scrap the analog methods. At first, I left my digital ways behind — but then I realized I still needed to keep my digital calendar up-to-date, so I started to do both. In my quest to simplify, I ended up over-complicating things for myself. So muchso, in fact, that I ironically ended up forgetting things. For me, trying to be a “Day Planner” person actually hurt more than it helped.

 

Even though something new and shiny (or retro and nostalgic) might seem like the easy swap, it might not be the right decision for you.

What might be right, however, is to do an audit of your lifestyle and habits in the same way you’d look at a phone or computer.

 

Think of your own personal operating systems (OS). What’s automated? Do you benefit from those automations? Is your “cloud” backup — the mental and emotional resources you can pull from regularly — up-to-date? Do you find yourself crashing every time you perform a certain activity a certain way or at a certain time?

Inspired by Jeremy’s tech saga and a-ha, I’m currently in the middle of my own OS audit. For me, an “OS Update” primarily involves looking at the role “motivation” and “inspiration” play in my day-to-day decisions. I’ll often use these two things as reasons to do or not do certain tasks and activities, so I’ll spend an unnecessary amount of time trying to drum up inspiration. Not only is it inefficient, it’s actually super exhausting. And while I do love the feeling of motivation and inspiration, I’ve found that I love them most when there’s no larger agenda attached (go figure, that’s when all my best ideas come to me anyway). My OS Update involves building the habit of whatever I’d like to do — write, exercise, cook, read — and not waiting for the go-ahead from “motivation.”

I’ve also realized that when it comes to work, I automatically answer questions with responses I would’ve given a year or two ago. Whether it’s stating my rate or responding to a request, I’ve found myself perfunctorily saying things that don’t apply anymore.

I’ve changed. It’s time for my OS to change with me.

Life is like a computer or cell phone. Things break and glitch. Sometimes, you need something completely new. But sometimes, you just need to upgrade your operating system. Click To Tweet

So, to come back around to Jeremy: he eventually ended up how he began. A Microsoft computer, an Apple phone, and some kind of copycat brand of AirPod-lookalikes as headphones. (Thank goodness for return policies and trade-in programs.) After a record number of backs and forths, Jeremy got everything set up and synced, and now has it all running on the latest version of software — software he wasn’t using before. It all looks the same as it did at the start, but there’s actually a world of a difference.

Turns out, he just really, really needed everything to work as efficiently as possible.

He didn’t need to choose a whole new identity. He wasn’t Justin Long. He wasn’t PC Guy.

His identity was, and always has been, “efficiency guy.”

~

It’s easy to assume that if things aren’t working, then you need to scrap everything and start fresh. Whether it’s the movies you love, the way you cut your hair, the coffee you drink, or the phone you carry, there’s a whole world out there that would love for you to define yourself by your associations. It’s easy…too easy…to assume that if you change what’s on the outside, you’ll change, period.

But life doesn’t work like that.

Things break and glitch.

Sometimes, you need something completely new.

But sometimes, you just need to update your operating system.

 


WANT YOURSELF:

What might an “OS Update” look like for you? Are there areas in your life where you could use a system refresh/reboot? Share in the comments and let us know — or join us over in The WANT Community to discuss this and more on a weekly basis!


 

Transitions, Tests, and Upgrades: How To Move Forward Fearlessly When It’s Tempting *NOT* To.

Transitions, Tests, and Upgrades: How To Move Forward Fearlessly When It’s Tempting *NOT* To.

Community Love Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration Work

Welp, the NYC streets are packed again, the smells are back with a vengeance, and there are lines around the block for the new Harry Potter Store on 5th Avenue.

Yep. NYC is back in action. And all the signs are pointing to one thing:

IT’S TIME. The transitional moment is HERE.

Pivot or back-pedal.
Reimagine or regress.
Evolve or escape.

If you’re feeling particularly…um…tested lately (by people, by work, by life being life), welcome to the club.

*Because you, along with pretty much everyone else, are in the middle of a transition.*

*And transitions bring tests.*

Tests, in this context, are conversations, instances, or occurrences that give us opportunities to cement our choices in stone.

If you’ve ever put in your two weeks’ notice at a lackluster job and then all the sudden had a pretty great two weeks at work – congrats, you’ve experienced a “test.” 

How much DO you want it, really?
How committed ARE you, really?

Important side note here. Not *everything* is a “test.”

(Side note to the side note, I feel like I want to add this “not everything, because nuance and individuality” caveat to every other thing I write/say, because the internet seems to like to take one thing and make it true for eVeRyOnE. But hopefully, I don’t have to Side-Note my way around conversations with you, and you know this side note to be true.)

BUT, if you have something you’ve said you’re working toward… something you want badly… something you’ve committed to… or just something you know you don’t want in your life anymore, I’ll bet you’ve experienced something that’s made you wonder if you should just stay put and NOT make the thing — whatever it is — happen.

For me, tests have looked like:

  • Multiple work or social invites on the same day: I’ve said I don’t want to go back to overscheduling and overextending myself, so my test is that I’m gonna get multiple chances to overschedule and overextend myself. Do you care more about your mental health or fitting everyone else in? (mental health.)
  • More “meh” workouts than “yeah!!” ones: I’ve said I don’t want to define my badassery by my workouts, so my test is that those workouts that in the past have made me feel super badass are NOT happening. Do you care more about how you feel or about what you do? (how I feel.)
  • More delightful and/or urgent social media content, less “followers”: Ok, this is one I think I’ve written and rewritten about 8xs. I’ve said I want to only create content that lights us BOTH up — meaning, only creating content that either delights me/you AND OR content that lights a vital fire under me/you. After the massive year that was 2020, I got really discouraged by seeing so many people go back to old harmful habits, old negative self-talk loops, or just old un-joyful patterns that they SWORE they’d never visit again. Like, REALLY discouraged.And so I vowed to myself I would only post what brings joy or moves us forward (or both). This has been a non-negotiable for me, and my test has been that my “follower” count has gone down instead of up (and as someone working on a book, I’m also hyper aware of the relationship between publishers and platform numbers). So the question has been: Do you care more about the impact you make, or the numbers you see? (impact I make. every damn time.)

 

There have been more. I’ve been tested quite a lot 😂

Because I’m becoming a NEW version of myself.

Just How It Is and Just How I Am are no longer the same as they once were, and I don’t want them to be.

When it comes to moving forward when it’s easy NOT to, I’m actually HIGHLY motivated by regret.

Not in a fear-based way. But rather, a fired-up way.

Whenever I face a test, I stop to get perspective:

If today was the last day of your life, would you regret how you did things?

Is this a decision I’ll look back on one day as a “fork-in-the-road” moment…and regret not ever experiencing the fork-prong-not-traveled?

Or will I look back and be glad that, at the very least, I TRIED to go down the path I chose?

I bet you’ve been tested at least once this year, too.

AND THIS IS THE THING:

Your life will be a constant reevaluation.

It’s gonna change. You will change. It’s inevitable. Remember to constantly reevaluate.

Reevaluate what and who inspires you. Reevaluate your passions, your missions, the person you are out in the world. Reevaluate what truly matters most. It’s a tragedy to live life as an outdated version of yourself, hitting TEST after TEST after TEST and choosing not to move forward, all the while convincing yourself it’s “Just How It Is” and “Just How You Are.”

But Just How You Are can change whenever you want it to.

This is YOUR life. You get to decide where you go and what you do. Any choice can be the “right” choice, really, as long is it’s a choice you can wholeheartedly stand behind when you ask yourself:

If today was the last day of my life, would I regret how I did things?

You do not owe anyone a past version of yourself because that version is familiar.

Allow yourself the upgrade.

Reminder: Create A Normal That’s Actually New.

Reminder: Create A Normal That’s Actually New.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

“Monday morning, indoor group fitness opens back up in NYC!”

I saw the news headlines plastered all over my friends’ social media timelines, celebratory emojis abound. Not soon thereafter, the emails started rolling in.

As a group fitness instructor for the last almost-14 years, I’ve become intimate and familiar with the so-called “hustle.” The early morning, the late nights, the laughable pay (I once taught at a studio where one person showed up, and I got paid per head, so I made a whole $3 for that class), the long commutes. Teaching through sickness, through injury, through life crisis because you can’t find a sub. 

Not to say that’s all it’s been. Far from it. There are many reason why I’ve prioritized it over the years, and why I’ve stuck with it even when I wasn’t making enough to cover a gallon of gas: the community, the people, the way you’re able to make massive shift happen within a span of 45 minutes that lasts long after your heart rate has settled down.

Pre-2021, I probably would have been thrilled by all the emails rolling in talking about reopening. But this time, this year, in 2021, that was not the case. Anxiety hit. Hard.

I knew. And when I finally did get on that bike for my very first class back, my suspicions were confirmed.

I am not the same person as when I last got up on that bike.

~

This isn’t a post about group fitness at all, and it’s not about the safety logistics of “opening up.” This is about going Back To Normal. 

My experience teaching spin classes over the last two weeks since reopening has been great. Supportive managers, grateful class members, intimate classes of no more than 6. 

And. I am not the same. I can already tell that I lead differently. I facilitate a different experience. I imagine that when I go back to IRL speaking engagements, I’ll have a similar reaction. How ironic that it took the absence of pressure from weekly “stage time” — whether on a conference stage giving a keynote or a spin podium coaching through a breathless push — to feel as if I’ve finally found my voice all over again.

My experience has been one of a multitude of examples thus far in which I feel as if I’m going back in time and seeing my life through a sliding-doors lens, being given an opportunity to take one path instead of the other.

Maybe you feel it, too. Going places you haven’t been for a year and realizing you’ve changed but they haven’t. Being asked questions you would have answered with an emphatic YES or hard NO before, now bringing you hesitation and pause.

A transition has been brewing over the last year+ and can now FEEL everything starting to bubble to the surface. It’s incredible and terrifying at the same time. Because now, right now, in this moment, we get to choose our true New Normal.

Restrictions are lifting in more areas, vaccines are being rolled out in more places, and for some, life is beginning to look more “normal” than it has in 12 months.

My fear is that people will be so eager to “get back” to how things “once were” that they’ll forget all those moments over the last year that made them realize that “how-things-once-were” was, in a multitude of ways, NOT working.

I do not want to buy into the so-called “hustle.” I want to define my own success.
I do not want to say YES when I mean NO. I want to say YES when it means YES and NO when it means NO.
I do not want to distract myself into perpetuity anymore. I want to always be paying close attention.
I do not want trust without truth. I want truth, then trust.
I do not want an existence made of checked boxes. I want a life lived outside the lines that we’re told give it shape.
I want rest.
I want contemplation.
I want deeper conversations and holding someone to their word.
I want racial and gender equity.

I want evolution.
I want forward motion.

This past year has presented us with so many lessons to learn and unlearn. So many systems to dismantle and truths to face about our world, and about ourselves.

And here’s the kicker: they’re not new.

These aren’t new lessons and systems and truths. The difference is that this time, weren’t “too busy” or “too distracted.” We were sitting down and paying attention.

And I worry about our collective attention span dwindling and going back to the way things were.

Don’t let it happen.

Journal about it all (What’s Your Story? by Rebecca Walker and Lily Diamond is a great place to start. I truly will never ever stop recommending this book). Keep talking about what you’re learning. Keep evaluating and re-evaluating the systems and structures in your life.

Keep reading. Keep getting involved. Keep setting boundaries. Keep speaking up.

Identify the kind of life you want to live and the kind of person you want to be and make it happen.

Do not forget.
Do not stop doing the work.

Don’t go back to normal.
Create an entirely new one.
One that serves us all.

On Beating Overwhelm – Or, A Formal Apology To The Time Known As “Dawn”

On Beating Overwhelm – Or, A Formal Apology To The Time Known As “Dawn”

Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

It all just feels so much more complicated now than it has in the past, doesn’t it?

Or maybe it’s always felt this complicated, we’ve just been too distracted to notice…

The dictionary definition overwhelm – “to overpower in thought or feeling” – doesn’t hold a candle to Overwhelm In The Roaring (20)20s. I’ve written about what to do when it all feels like too much, I’ve written about being overwhelmed by the good things, I’ve written about Ghost Worries. But the nuances of overwhelm in what I’ve been calling the “For-Now Normal” are really something else.

This is an illuminating time we’re in. We’re learning new things and mourning new losses and reaching new milestones and sometimes all three at the same time, and we have very few places to go to recalibrate our system.

Maybe you’re one of the people privileged enough to own a spin bike so you can ride to nowhere, or maybe you have a large backyard or a multi-story house, or maybe you’re in a studio apartment. Maybe you live with other humans (and/or pets) to talk to in person, mask-free. Maybe you’ve moved in with family, or family’s moved in with you, or are Air BNB-ing it long-term for the time being.

But no matter what your situation, you’re being forced to make do with whatever’s in your immediate surroundings, repurposing them to create escapes and releases and comfort and coping mechanisms when all they’d usually be are the norm.

~

To be overwhelmed, I’ve learned, isn’t necessarily a numbers game. It’s not to feel as if there are too many things going on or too many boxes to check off your to-do list. My to-do lists have varied over the last year from page-turners to one simple box to check next to the words “make lunch.” If overwhelm was merely about the numbers, I promise you, I’d be spending way less of my days overwhelmed than I currently am.

No; overwhelm right now is maybe what overwhelm has actually been all along: when your thoughts and feelings not only *feel* overpowering, but they morph and shape-shift so often that you lose sight of where you end and your surroundings begin.

Overwhelm is the place you go when you feel like the world is playing a game of tug-of-war and your arms are the rope. Pull, pull, pull, back, forth, back, forth. It’s not the tug-of-war itself that’s the issue; it’s the way your head and heart are trying to compute what the hell is going on. Internal alarms and ticker-tape thoughts and flickering lights and total blackouts from an over-processed processing machine.

~

I’m up at 5am this morning writing this, every so often glancing over my right shoulder and out my window to see the silver-blue light of morning rising. I look down at the streets, snowy and snow-plowed; someone walks by maybe every five minutes, maybe. Because, pandemic and 5am and bone-ass cold.

I’m up at 5 because I was up at 4:30, because every single human I admire claims to wake up early for whatever reason they deem important. Writing, meditating, moving. But whatever they do, they all claim this is the time they feel they KNOW. The time the doubt and fears fade and they just do what they do.

In many cultures, 4-5am is the time “at which the boundaries that separate the physical realm from the spiritual realm are at their weakest” (quote from this article). “Witching Hour” is usually considered in the 3am or 4am hour, a time that folklore once associated with supernatural happenings. Many articles I read about this time have to do with some sort of spiritual awakening – literally, your spirit waking up – and talk about how many artists, writer, and poets abide by an early waking time.

I always thought it was because it’s the time they’re able to do what they do without being interrupted by the world – work, kids, tasks, partners, friends, colleagues, pets, traffic, the list goes on.

But maybe it’s because it’s the time they’re able to do what they do without being interrupted by themselves.

~

After listening to a few podcasts a few weeks back interviewing my favorite writers – all who said they were early-morning-people – I announced to my husband, Jeremy, that I was going to wake up at 4:30am the following morning.

He asked me why.

“Because I want to. That’s when the writers wake up, and I want to write when the writers write.” It had never occured to me that I could just make a choice like that and go with it.

It’s been a few weeks now. The first week, I stuck to every morning – now, it’s morphed into about 3 times a week, which is a rhythm I can get behind. The main thing I notice that at this time, at this moment, is that my brain just can’t. It won’t access the overwhelm that plagues most of my days – maybe because it’s tired, or maybe because it hasn’t “warmed up” yet. It’s New York City, for freakin’ crying out loud, a city not only built on overwhelm but thriving on the bet it will make you feel all the things at all the times. It’s 5am but I’m still in the middle of the human-made chaos. Still looking over the same avenue.

And yet…and YET. In this moment, all I feel is the silver-blue light and the soft inhale of the morning and I just KNOW.

To the time known as “dawn,” I apologize for judging and ignoring you. I’ve been so resistant to waking up at 4:30 or 5am unless absolutely necessary, like to catch a plane or teach an early class or finish a project by its deadline. Never did I think “because I want to” was “absolutely necessary.”

I wonder how many other things I don’t do because of what I’ve deemed them, or not – or deemed myself, or not.

I wonder how much knowing I’m missing out on because thinking gets to me first.

~

So the lesson here is: sometimes you don’t need to “muster up the courage” or “stop overthinking things.” Sometimes you just need to wake up so early that your brain doesn’t yet have the capacity for self-doubt.

And I wonder if that’s been the trick to overwhelm – good, bad, in-between – this whole time. Whether you wake up early or not.

Find a moment.

Just a pocket.

Sit in silence.

Stare out the window.

Make time to be.

Overwhelm yourself with knowing, before life overwhelms you with thinking, and beat it at its own game.

 

overwhelm waking up early

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How To Harness Positivity When Everything Feels Like A Dumpster Fire

How To Harness Positivity When Everything Feels Like A Dumpster Fire

Most Popular Posts Tips + Tools

(…and the dumpster was filled with rancid milk and rotting broccoli and dog poop bags.)

 

WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL, my theater teacher used to tell us that instead of saying we were nervous before a show, we should tell ourselves that we were actually excited. Both nervous and excited are “aroused emotions,” meaning they trigger a response in the body that prepares you for action. They’re two words for the same sensation.

But sometimes, there are no substitute feel-alike words for what you’re experiencing. Flipping the shittiness feels saccharine and silly at best, tone deaf and demeaning at worst. You might be feeling exhausted, defeated, enraged, lonely, confused, or some kind of special cocktail of all the above ingredients. “Positive self-talk” probably feels pretty empty, and pretty hokey.

It does to me, too.

Because the thing is that positive self-talk doesn’t always work.

 


THE NOT SO GREAT POWER OF POSITIVITY

Studies have shown that if you don’t believe what you’re telling yourself, and you don’t already have high self-esteem, your brain knows you’re telling yourself lies. The University of Waterloo published a study in the Journal of Psychological Science concluding that “repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most.” And what’s more, you start to feel ashamed of the fact that you AREN’T that person you’re trying to tell yourself you are.

What’s even more interesting to me is that the aforementioned study also said that when asked to list both negative and positive thoughts about themselves, the people who had lower self-esteem actually felt BETTER when they were allowed to say the negative thoughts about themselves. The so-called positive feelings that were being generated came directly from their so-called negativity. It’s no wonder we stay in negative self-talk loops – we stay where we believe we belong.

 

PROACTIVE, NOT REACTIVE.

Positive self-talk isn’t necessarily empty and it most certainly isn’t bad. But jumping straight to the “talk” part of “positive self-talk” is skipping the vital step of determining what it means to actually be positive in the first place.

If there is ONE message I hope you internalize about harnessing positivity during the toughest of times, it’s this:

Positivity isn’t inherently feel-good, happy, or rainbows in the sky.

Positivity is NOT about uplifting mantras and affirmations.

Positivity is about being proactive, not reactive.

Positivity is about being proactive, not reactive. Click To Tweet

Positivity is about recognizing the full spectrum of a situation – the highs, the lows, the lights, the darks, and everything in between – and making a proactive choice to move forward.

By this logic, positivity won’t always feel good. It might feel uncomfortable, you might feel angry, there might be sadness lingering in the background or dread pushing its way through to the front of the line. Your problems won’t disappear and you won’t be handed solutions on a silver platter. And so you might feel discouraged or like you’re doing things “wrong.”

But as long as you’re being proactive, not reactive, I can assure you – THAT is positivity in motion.

 

HOW CAN I BE PROACTIVE RIGHT NOW?

Some words are easily flipped. And while maybe you can’t flip the stinky dumpster fire of dog-shit and turn it into a babbling brook filled with glistening pebbles…maybe, just maybe, you can flip what positivity actually means to you.

Nervousness to excitement. Positive to proactive.

The words we choose to use hold so much weight. It’s vital we dissect what they mean to us before we decide what we do with them.

Instead of asking yourself, “How can I be positive right now?”, try asking yourself “How can I be proactive right now?”

Report back in the comments. I’d love to hear where your proactive choices take you.

 

 

Transitions, Turning Points, Seasons, and Google Cal.

Transitions, Turning Points, Seasons, and Google Cal.

Community Most Popular Posts Motivation + Inspiration

I’ve always loved transitions – especially the ones that happen in September. I’d turn another year older, my favorite TV shows would start back up (no more Summer reruns!), and school would finally, finally be in session again.

New grade!

New teachers!

New books!

New projects!

HOMEWORK!!!!


No? Just me? Wouldn’t be surprised.

Unlike most kids, I always looked forward to the first day of school. Maybe it was my naiveté, maybe it was my upbringing, maybe it was just my Type A- personality pumped for the structure. But there was something about backpack shopping, picking out my outfits, and pouring over the introductory paperwork all the students at my schools were sent pre- Day One that made my heart so very happy.

The impending challenges of a new grade – or in some cases, a new school altogether – never really entered my head. Back To School season was the BEST season of the year.

 

Back To The Grind

It doesn’t matter how old you are or how long it’s been since you held a No. 2 pencil in your hand: for most former-kids, September will forever be synonymous with “Back To School.” The seasonal shift from Summer to Pre-Autumn to full-on-FALL signals that something new’s afoot – new friends, new challenges, new tests, and new teachers. We prepare for a new start, hope for positive change, and cross our fingers that we’ll be able to handle what life dishes out in the coming months.

Without Summer vacations and required reading, though, it can be hard as an adult to draw the line between where Summer ends and Fall begins. Because although we’d love to have an endless summer…and although the first day of Autumn isn’t technically until September 22nd…we can all feel a shift happen the moment Labor Day weekend comes to a close. It’s “back to the grind” – even though most of us have been grinding all year long.

And of course, 2020 has been a whole transition and grind of its own. Thank god for the seasons, that know no pandemics or furloughs. Thank goodness for the trees below my apartment window, that layer on the leaves right on cue and shed their layers as we pile on ours. Seasons and Google Cal. My 2020  touchstones. They remind me not only of the actual date but remind me that time goes on…even if I’ve lost all sense of time, days, weeks, and months (the amount of times I’ve woken up not knowing what day it was has been sitcom-worthy, except without any laugh tracks or plot twists tied up in 30 minutes or less).

And so it can just seem like more of the same – like we lost track of time, and the Summer months so associated with taking a breather completely passed us by. Couple this with a built-in programming from childhood to register this time of year as transitional, and it’s easy to feel a little bummed out once September hits.

At this point in 2020, you might be ready to Rip-Van-Winkle it and nap your way into the future. Or at least 2021. But even though there’s been so many struggles, so much sadness, and so many Groundhogs Day-esque weeks and months, I urge you – please do not opt out of the challenge right before the change arrives.

 

The New January

While January usually gets all the attention when it comes to resolutions, I’d like to argue that September holds just as much promise as the 01/01 mark.

Pre-Autumn and Fall is the perfect time to evaluate where you’ve been, where you’re at, and where you’re going. It’s a time to bring back that childlike enthusiasm, relentless joy, and maybe even those first-day jitters you had as a kid (because all worthwhile and exciting changes in life bring up first-day jitters, really). And Fall 2020 just might just be the turning point you’ve been waiting for and working toward.

But you’ll never know if you don’t show up.

At this point in the year, you might be feeling defeated. I get it. Another new start and transition is exactly what I DON’T need right now. Has ‘normalcy’ ever felt like such a valuable commodity? Normal seasonal shifts feels like it would be such a luxury to experience. It’s tough to get excited for Fall or take advantage of the Dog Days Of Summer when you’re still mourning the loss of Spring.

This should feel easier, you might think. This should feel natural. If anything should feel normal, it should be the seasonal shift. A transition I’ve done so many times before.

Except not.

At all.

Starting anything - a new job, a new relationship, a new habit, a new season - is hard. The harder part, though, is to keep going and see what happens next.

 

It’s Not About Easy, It’s About Right

Starting anything – a new job, a new relationship, a new habit, a new season – is hard. It is really really hard. In 2020 or otherwise. No matter how exciting it reads or how major it feels or how much promise it holds or how many time you’ve ever started fresh. Hardness and newness will always be the best of friends.

The harder part, though, is to keep going and see what happens next. 

Because it doesn’t get easier, it just morphs along the way. And when you keep going, and keep committing yourself to being proactive and not reactive, you learn to let go of what you feel should be. You start to work intimately with what already is toward what can be.

Maybe you learn to like the tough of it – and even if you don’t like it, maybe you even learn to love it with that type of unconditional love that’s more about appreciation than approval – and you let go of what doesn’t serve you and you stick with the rest (which is hard to do, too). Or maybe it all morphs altogether, and you end up starting down a whole new tough path you never even intended on going down.

And the starting doesn’t stop and the hardness doesn’t stop, but you learn you can take it, you can handle it, and the toughest stuff is ultimately what becomes the fabric of who you are and why you’re here.

And then you maybe realize that all this time, it was never about easy or hard at all. It was just about what’s right. For you.

 

Your Own Personal Season

This month – and this Fall in general – I encourage you to look at what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what’s right for you. Evaluate what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, or what you’ve accomplished in 2020 so far, and how you want to feel by the time the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021. So much of what we learn, how we grow, what we accomplish, and how we want to feel depends on the decisions we make, not the places we go (or don’t) or things we buy (or don’t) or titles we hold (or don’t).

It’s called “Fall” for a reason: just like the leaves fall away from their branches so the tree can begin its process of renewal, nature encourages us to let our old energy-suckers fall off our backs to make way for this new season of growth.

We’ve got four whole months. A THIRD of the year left. You have so much time. It’s all about what you do with it.

There will be challenges in the coming months, of course, and the newness of Fall and Winter will bring all kinds of highs and lows we could never have predicted. But if we shift our perspective to refocus our minds, refresh our hearts, and renew our commitments, there’s no telling what kind of miracles the rest of this year has in store.

New people.

New books.

New projects.

New homework.

Pick out your outfit and grab your backpack.

Class is in session.

Don’t ditch this one.

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