I’ve been out of full-time education for two years but I still (and probably forever will) feel like September is the beginning of the year rather than January.
January is dismal, it’s dreary, there’s a tattered bit of tinsel on a mirror that you forgot to take down, a sad slice of fruitcake left in the fridge and so, so much washing to be done. It’s scientifically a depressing month. The most depressing day of the year – ‘Blue Monday’ – always falls in it for goodness sake and this is basically a culmination of bad weather, low motivation levels and debt, making society their most unhappy on this day.
‘Deprivation’ is synonymous with ‘January’ – light deprivation, monetary deprivation as we frantically budget to pay off the mountainous credit card bill and food deprivation as we return to normal plate sizes. Amidst all this, you’re expected to list your failings and then resolve to better yourself even though you haven’t seen Willpower since December 1 – she went on holiday as soon as the first mince pie appeared.
September, however, conjures ideas of cosy nights, new notebooks and stationery, of autumnal colours and a fresh start after the abundance of summer. Since our primary school days, we have been programmed at the end of August to begin thinking about our goals for the coming academic year and what we wish to achieve. It’s logical to continue this mindset into adult life and make personal and professional goals in September instead of January.
From looking over the previous eight months we can decide what has gone well, what goals we can build upon and what we need to adapt so that the rest of the year is successful. It’s only another three until the end of the year and this seems like a much more manageable stretch of time. In January we have an entire 12 months to look back on and another 12 months to plan for and this is simply overwhelming.
Resolutions just seem more do-able whilst it’s still light outside. No one wants to go for a run when it’s pitch-black and sleeting but running along Brighton seafront as the sun gently sets over the Channel sounds quite blissful. Sunlight increases the release of serotonin in the brain, a hormone which literally helps to boost your mood and help you to focus. As darkness falls your brain produces melatonin, a hormone to help you sleep. Starting resolutions at the darkest time of year, and therefore when your brain is producing much more of the sleep hormone, is counter-intuitive to making a productive change.
It’s equally important, no matter what time of year you choose your resolutions, that they are positive and attainable. Only 8% of people stick to their New Year’s Resolutions, meaning they feel like a failure and begin the year on the wrong foot. Start small: walk 10 steps, eat an apple or swap your chicken for cauliflower. This way once you get to January you will already have your foundations in place and while everyone else is starting out, you’ll be way ahead. Alright, it’s not a competition but still, you’re allowed to feel smug every once in a while.
Once you’ve left this society-prescribed ‘norm’ you’re one step closer to overthrowing the government and never adhering to any form of societal pressure again. Happy September!