Reflect and Refresh

How to start anew in September

As summer comes to a close and a new season dawns, it’s a great time to reflect on the year so far and go into the last few months of 2021 with a fresh outlook.

“Starting fresh can start any time,” says Joyce Marter, licensed psychotherapist and author of The Financial Mindset Fix: A Mental Fitness Program for an Abundant Life.

“I love the ‘beginner’s mind’ concept from yoga, which is about letting go and starting anew with a fresh outlook at any moment. This is especially helpful if you’ve had setbacks or failures. Let go of the past and look at the future with a new outlook that is fresh, hopeful and excited for positive change. This practice will help you practise self-forgiveness and reboot your outlook going forward.”

Of course, any day is a chance to start fresh, but September can often feel like a special time for newness.

“Fall is the season of letting go of the old to welcome rebirth,” says Marter. “Practically, it is the start of the new school year and is a good time for reflection and planning for renewal and rebirth so you can blossom into the fullest and greatest expression of yourself in the new year.”

So first things first, you can set some time aside to reflect on the past year. Think about what you’ve experienced, what you’ve learned, any new habits you’ve developed, and what you want to take with you into the rest of the year.

Reflection: A Guide

Marter suggests carving out two or three hours for your reflection practice.

  • “Take the first hour or so to review items that will provide insight about the past year, such as photos, journals or financial statements,” she says. “Journal anything you notice, particularly what gave you joy and energy and what drained your joy and energy and what you learned from that.”
  • “Get yourself grounded by doing some mindfulness practices such as breathwork or a short meditation. Practise self-compassion and self-forgiveness for anything you notice that causes you frustration. None of us is perfect and we are all works in progress. Congratulate yourself for having the courage to take an honest inventory of your life. Remember that becoming aware is the first step towards positive change.
  • “Identify the top 3-5 positives from the year (what you most enjoyed or feel most positive about, noting what that reveals about your values or what brings you happiness.) Then write out a plan for how to continue/maximize/expand on these types of experiences.”
  • Write out 3-5 hardships from the year (and what you learned from them – what are the hidden blessings? What would you need to have in place to handle a similar challenge with more resilience? I.e. more support, more financial stability, etc.)”
  • “Do another short meditation where you imagine breathing out or letting go of whatever no longer serves you (self-sabotaging behaviours, toxic relationships, self-limitation) and breathing in all that you desire to live a greater life (the sky’s the limit!)”
  • Establish goals to continue the positive behaviours and apply what you learned from the negative experiences. Break those goals into smaller objectives with deadlines.”
  • Create a vision board

And remember, you can start fresh any time – even a new day is a chance to change things up and realign with your goals. A great way to do this is to create a morning practice, Marter says.

“Create a morning practice, such as a meditation or time for journaling where you revisit your goals and set an intention for the day.”