This article was published in October 2021 on EddieBauer.com via their content series: The Elements of Adventure with Matt Walker – the original piece can be found here

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Autumn Reset

The days are becoming shorter. The air crisper. I feel a little lighter in the morning. I have a bit more energy. Maybe it’s the awareness that the seasons are shifting and that days like this are a finite resource.

Autumn is a time like no other. Cool mornings, warms days, leaves ablaze, school in session, the comfort of warm soup and fresh bread, dramatic storms, and it’s end-capped with Halloween.

It’s a dynamic time. Summer fades and Winter teases.

Autumn offers both energies – the playful, carefree, and timeless feel of summer and the slow, purposeful, and reflective pace of winter.

And while it may sound paradoxical, given our collective affinity for New Year’s resolutions, Autumn is the ideal time to reflect, reset, and set your direction for the coming year.

For this practice, take three days, set 30 minutes aside for each day, and give this a try. Bonus points if you do it with a friend or family member – you may be surprised to learn their perspective, plus, a little accountability never hurts!

Reflect

Grab a journal, a couple of pieces of paper, or whatever works as long as you go analog.

Create three pages: Gratitude / What Worked, Challenges / What I Wish Went Differently, and Memories. In whatever way you want, fill in these pages: stream of conscious writing, lists, bullet points, incomplete sentences – it’s your reflection and your practice. No hard and fast rules here.

Next: head outside for 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter where – a park, a favorite hike, the beach, your backyard, a balcony, just take in some fresh air. Widen your vision beyond a screen, unplug, and reflect.

Reset

No journaling or writing needed here. Just you in nature and in motion. Begin by looking over your lists from yesterday. Note what it feels like: hopeful, full of possibility, grateful, sad, heavy? Again, it’s your list, your experience, and your choice as to how to frame the past year.

After reading the list, take a moment, close your eyes, and breathe into the list…a series of full inhales and deep full exhales. Really feel the list – you don’t need to do anything more, no solution is needed, no tasking, nothing.

Head outside and move – on a bike, on foot, canoe or kayak, whatever brings you joy and, just as importantly, whatever brings you into a state without thought. This is why the practice is held outside. Find yourself in a space that engages all of your senses and brings you into your body and out of your head, no thinking, no ruminating on the past or the future, just present in the moment.

Set Your Direction

The final step in this practice is to clarify your direction. I hesitate to use the word: intention. This is a specific choice on my part – intentionality is only one part of the equation.

Here is the equation: an understanding of past patterns (reflection) + desired future outcome (goal setting / habit change) + intentionality (your values aligned with clarity and purpose).

With this equation available, let’s go back to your journal or blank pages and work with the unknown variables. What would you like to create? Literally. This is the map for the next year and you are the cartographer – you fill in the gaps.

Begin with a short synopsis of your experience with the reflection exercise – narrow it down to one or two sentences that encapsulate the feeling.

Next, what would you like to experience or shift in the upcoming year – the more specific the better. Hyper-specific if possible. Be bold and go big. And. Be bold and go small. Make choices that resonate for you. Small wins and small shifts. Big wins and big shifts.

The final outcome is a one-sentence declaration of how you will take on the challenges of the coming year. It’s going to take gumption, a little bit of risk, and some courage.

The Covid-era has gifted us all with a strong dose of resilience in all areas of our lives. At times it’s been a bitter pill, and other times it’s given us joyful moments of clarity: seeing what matters most to you, your family, and your community.

Your direction is in service to that – what matters most. The elegance will come in the simplicity of it all – strip it down to its bare essence.

My directionality this coming year: make choices that serve the physical, emotional, and spiritual health of those that are the most important to me, including myself. I also have a bucket list of experiences and adventures I would like to make happen, again, with those that are most important to me, as well as solo.

Here’s to a new year and new direction…in October!