Every January 1, millions of people set ambitious New Year’s resolutions: exercise more, stop eating sugar, keep their home cleaner. And by the end of the month (or even the week), most of them have given up. While many people fail to keep their resolutions because they were too extreme or they didn’t have a strategy for meeting them, part of the problem might also be the timing.
Even though a new year seems like the obvious time to make new life changes, it may not be. The only thing that differentiates January 1 from December 31 is the calendar, and a change in the calendar doesn’t magically make it easier to change our lifestyles. However, it might be slightly easier to stick to a resolution at another time of year: the fall.
It’s already a time of transition.
The only transition that comes at the end of December is a gradual shift from cold weather to colder weather. But the beginning of fall is a natural period of transition anyway. For people with children, the start of the school year is a huge shift. At many workplaces, the end of summer brings changes and transitions as well. It also usually marks the end of certain commitments and the beginning of new ones. And as your schedule is already changing, it can be easier to slot in time to work toward your resolutions.
There are no post-holiday blues.
After months of build-up, many people experience sadness, disappointment, or loneliness once the holidays are over. While working toward a goal can help to combat those feelings, they can also make it much harder to stick to a new program, give up something you enjoy, or make other life changes. In the fall, however, you may be feeling a bit happier and more energetic to begin with, making it easier to keep your resolution.
You’ll likely be starting from a healthier place.
Similarly, the holidays are generally a period of indulgence, with events taking place over a stretch of nearly six weeks. Holiday meals and festive treats, the busyness of the season, and the unrelenting weather all make the end of the year an especially unhealthy time for most. Even if your resolution isn’t health-oriented, you’ll be in a better place to tackle it at the end of the summer, which tends to be less stressful and more active than the holiday season.
It’s nicer out.
Lastly, the weather can make a big difference in how easy it is to stick to a new habit, and January is one of the harshest months in most places. Short days, snow and ice, and freezing temperatures make it hard to spend much time outside, and it can just feel easier to stay in. Compare that to early fall, when it’s still pleasant out, maybe even more so than the summer. Start a resolution in September, and you’ll have far fewer obstacles to getting out of the house to keep it.
We all know that New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep, so why not try something different? Besides, if you start now, you can always use the New Year as a time to reflect, reevaluate, and celebrate the progress you’ve already made.