Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Why I Prefer September for Resolutions & Goals

Hard to believe that September is already almost over. This month has a special place in my heart for a number of reasons, but recently I realised that it marks much more than the end of heat waves and the start of "Leggings Every Day!" season - it might actually be the time of year when I am the most productive, and when I am in the best position to set some goals, and even some year-long resolutions for myself. Sure, New Year's is the traditional time of year to "turn over a new leaf" (even though all the leaves are covered in snow by New Year's - heh, see what I did there? 😜), but recently I figured out that I could make a compelling case for September being a much better month for me to focus on setting my goals.

I'd like to preface this post by saying that these points are 100% my opinion, and I'm not straight-out advising others to start setting their yearly resolutions now instead of in January, especially since a lot of the points below are only applicable to some people depending on where they live in the world.  With having to juggle numerous mental health issues, sometimes I find the need to get inventive and find new ways to be productive and to be a regular member of society. However, if you feel like the majority of these points apply to you as well then by all means, try setting your goals this fall instead of in the winter - maybe start off with some smaller ones first to see how you manage, but it never hurts to try something new 😊
Besides the fact that I am just not a fan of New Year's Eve and all the festivities and traditions that go along with it, my main argument for September being a better month for January for setting goals for yourself is this: Our brains are already conditioned to view September as a time for new beginnings, as it is the month when we used to return to school each year! Of course, this only applies to places in the Northern hemisphere, and only to certain areas of North America to boot - pretty sure a lot of the US states actually start their school year in August and finish school in May.

Even though I finished with my schooling in 2015, when it gets closer to September and I see segments on the news and articles in the newspaper about all the kids that are beginning their school year, there is still that lingering feeling associated with this month that puts my mind in a good place to set goals for the coming months, or even the coming year. Sure, maybe many people's brains are naturally wired to see January as the best time to set year-long goals, and given that it's the literal beginning of the year it might appear to be the logical choice, but there are no hard and fast rules that it is the only way to do things. Since I feel that my brain is in a better position to set myself some goals during the month of September, that is what I will be doing. Maybe you have your own personal history or experiences that make another time of year the best time for you to set - and reach - your goals, and if that's the case, go for it!
Correction, some things are cheaper, not everything. Here's a prime example: A lot of local gyms may run some sort of promotion to gain more memberships in January, because that is the time of year that the majority of people will set a resolution to make a better habit of working out in the New Year. Although there may also be gyms that will keep their standard rate, or maybe even increase their prices, during January because of this fact. If you're choosing to make a better habit of hitting the gym when it isn't a peak season, you might be able to find a better deal this month.

However, let's say your goals or resolutions have to do with creative pursuits, specifically ones that involve buying a heap of supplies beforehand. This is where the back-to-school season actually works against you; some places might have school, art, or crafting supplies on sale during this time of year, and then there are other places that will have their highest prices right now when people are doing their back-to-school shopping. There are some goals in which it might be preferable to start in September as opposed to January, but unfortunately, not all types of resolutions will be the cheapest to pursue during this time of year.
Let's be honest here - it's much easier to get anything done, indoors or outdoors, when you don't have the snow and cold to deal with. Again, this is primarily a Northern Hemisphere and North American concern, but with the winter and the conclusion of many major holidays comes a number of productivity-wavering effects, such as overall exhaustion, awful temperatures and inclement weather, and for some people there is Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) to wrestle with.

I have trouble dragging myself out of my warm bed in the winter time, much less getting anything productive done. I know there are people out there who thrive when it's cold & snowing out (and I'll be honest, I will never understand you people...), but that's never been the case for me. It's better to get things accomplished when you're more comfortable, and even if being curled up in front of a fire place with my favourite blanket, my puppy, and a good books sounds like an ideal way for wait until the start of spring, it might not be a good place to get any actual work done.
Some people feel that they need accountability in order to accomplish a goal. Personally, I'm not like that; I feel like being held accountable by other people in order to get something accomplished adds more pressure than it takes away. Even as a kid, I was someone who when asked to do a certain chore or complete a certain assignment, being asked to do it suddenly made me much more reluctant to get any real work done.

With everybody setting their goals and resolutions all at once in late December and starting to work towards them in early January, you've got a whole lot of people to compare yourself to with regards to your progress, even if you're working towards something completely different. Seeing how well somebody else is doing might make it harder for you to make any progress. And it's at this time of year where resolutions are a hot topic of conversation, and if somebody asks you what resolutions you've set for yourself or if they ask how your resolutions and goals are coming along, it adds unnecessary pressure.

And sometimes friends and family members decide to make each other accountable throughout the year as they work to accomplish their goals, and while that accountability may work to motivate some and to dissuade them from quitting, for others it simply adds pressure and high expectations.

Even if you're planning to stick to the status quo and set your resolutions and your biggest goals for the year in late December or early January, I hope you were still able to gain something from my post 😊 I'd love to hear your thoughts, questions, or concerns in the comments below. I promise to keep you all posted regarding how my new approach to goal setting works out for me!

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