By Rachel Miller
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling extremely “new year, new me” right now (starting a new job will do that to you!). And I don’t see the point in waiting until January to make positive life changes; I’m all about setting a personal Q4 goal! Think of a Q4 goal as, like, a New Year’s resolution junior. It’s not about a major life overhaul…it’s about making a gentle change (or addition) that will genuinely improve your quality of life, give you a sense of accomplishment, keep you grounded during a hectic time of year, and set you up for a successful January.
Read on for more about why I like this approach so much (plus some Q4 goal ideas to get you started):
1. Three months is the perfect amount of months.
Twelve weeks is definitely enough time to make a meaningful change…but it’s not so much time that you’ll be tempted to set wildly unrealistic goals that you’ll abandon in a couple weeks. Thinking in three-month periods also means you don’t have to plan for every possible “What if?” scenario. (“What if I have work travel? What if I get a new job? What if I move? What if I get pregnant?”) Sure, your life could change in that time, but it probably won’t change SO dramatically that you need to burn everything down and start from scratch. (But if it does change, and your goal no longer makes sense, that’s…fine.)
Basically, thinking about just the next three months makes goal setting and self-improvement less overwhelming and way more fun.
2. October is a great time to pick up a new activity or hobby.
Most of us spent the first 20 years of our life in school, which means we’ve been conditioned to think about new things in the fall — new clothes, new classes, new friends, new books. There’s a also meaningful shift in seasons happening right now; nature is giving a cue that change is coming. This gorgeous fall weather makes doing stuff — truly, any stuff! — more fun and spirited, and the days are still long enough that evening activities feel doable. Once Daylight Saving Time hits, it’s over for you hoes (and by hoes I mean me, doing anything meaningful on a weeknight).
Basically, if you’re feeling that whisper of fall inspiration/motivation right now, don’t let it pass you by — harness it and turn it into something lasting!
3. Establishing a habit that makes you feel really good now will really come in handy in November and December.
I’ve found that once mid-November hits, life tends to move really fast. Your boss is stressing about the company finances (corporations have Q4 goals too!), you need to book holiday travel, and your calendar is packed with parties and you have nothing to wear. It’s a hard time to practice self-care, is what I’m saying. One of the best ways to help Future You take care of herself is to start a new habit or routine now — when it’s infinitely easier to achieve. Not only will that set you up for success in the new year, but it’ll be fully established by the time the holidays roll around. That means you won’t have to find motivation (or be able to tell yourself “Ugh, at this point, I’ll just wait until January”)…you can simply keep doing what you’ve been doing. Plus, having something ongoing that you feel really good about or look forward to helps a lot when life starts to feel busy/overwhelming.
4. January always arrives way too soon.
I’m extremely horny for self-improvement, but I’ve found that it’s genuinely difficult to make New Year’s resolutions because January 1 always comes up so quickly. Like, on December 27, I’ve just figured out what I’m doing on New Year’s Eve…I don’t have time to think about what I’m doing for the next year!!! I also find it harder to make goals for myself when I have zero desire to leave my home, and have an emotional and spiritual hangover from the proceeding six-week holiday blitz. I don’t want to rush to set big goals, and I definitely don’t want to set them from a place of regret/guilt.
But if I’m actually thinking about an ongoing goal regularly in November and December — which helps me act with intention, and feel pretty OK about my life choices — I can come up with a New Year’s resolution (or just a Q1 goal!) that feels like it’s coming from a positive, thoughtful, healthy place.
If you’d like some inspiration for what your Q4 could look like, I’ve got a few in mind. Like I said, I think it’s best to aim for gentle, practical tweaks that will legitimately improve your quality of life and/or bring you pleasure and satisfaction. Here are some ideas you can use as a jumping-off point:
- Take a hobby-related class or lessons
- Call one friend to catch up each week (instead of just texting and hitting “like” on their photos)
- Try the 20/10 approach to doing chores
- Make one new-to-you recipe from a single cookbook or from one food category (think: soup, bread, pasta, pie) every other week
- Schedule all of the appointments you’ve been putting off (dentist, eye doctor, new drivers license, etc.)
- Go to the gym a few times each week, or go to one fitness class every week
- Start doing the NYT crossword (yes, it’s possible!)
- Work your way through an audiobook series (like the Harry Potter audiobooks)
- Journal for 20 minutes every day when you get home from work, before you do anything else
- Finish five books (or however many feels right to you!)
- Find a therapist/start going to therapy
- Read (or unplug) for 30 minutes before bed every night
- Do a big closet cleanout and/or aim to take better care of your clothes
- Train for some sort of December race/fitness event
- Delete one social media app that’s really bringing you down (or only use it at set days/times)
- Take one weekday off work every month to catch up on errands/chores/whatever Make one new friend