Is September the “Other January?”

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The new school year has started and for many people it feels like a fresh start. Gretchen Rubin, a favorite author of mine who wrote “The Happiness Project” (just one of her New York Times bestsellers) asked an important question: “Is September the ‘other January?’”

For many people who work on a school schedule or have children in school you may find yourself feeling like back to school time is an opportunity to start new routines or break old habits and form healthier new ones. This may feel similar to the tradition of “New Year’s resolutions” we tend to focus on in January.

So what are the advantages to treating September as the “other January?”

–You may feel less negative pressure to succeed with goals you have set for yourself since this isn’t a typical time everyone is talking about “resolutions” and comparing notes.
–You may have more time to devote to your new routines or habits you want to establish. Maybe because the kids are back in school that frees up more of your time to start a positive habit, like exercise for example.
–You may feel more motivated to make changes in your life when the weather is nice. For example, waiting to start an exercise routine when it is 20 degrees in January and you don’t feel like leaving the house would definitely make it more difficult to establish that habit.

Need some help with establishing new routines or habits?

Gretchen Rubin’s latest book is called “Better than Before” and is all about her study of habits. She has a fascinating theory that everyone falls into one of “four tendencies” that helps us to understand how we can best break bad habits and start/make new habits stick.

Here is her quiz on the four tendencies to help you understand yourself better. One of the main points of her book is that you have to find ways to make habits work for you. What works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. It’s important to experiment and figure out what it takes for you to be successful.

For example, one of the “four tendencies” is being an “obliger.” She describes how obligers tend to do better sticking to habits when other people hold them accountable. So for our exercise example an obliger would probably do better hiring a personal trainer or making plans with a friend to exercise rather than relying on themselves to exercise.

Is September the “other January” for you? What habits or routines do you want to establish this time of year?

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Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC

Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: alison@moveforwardlancaster.com.