Do you ever feel as though some traditional events on the calendar are completely arbitrary and frankly ill-timed for the cadence of real life? Rather than wait until Jan. 1, for the last couple of years I’ve been setting my “New Year’s resolutions and intentions” in September. It sounds strange but here’s why, for me at least, it serves me well.
September is abuzz with a strong sense of momentum and energy; the children go back to school, the vacation mentality ends, the days are shorter, there is a crisp in the air, with more to do, and more being done. There’s a strong sense of everyone making new habits and adopting new routines. There is a distinct energy shift that’s already happening all around us.
Once we’re in the very thick of winter, and the festive holiday period is passed, I find January is a really hard time to suddenly “up and change” things, especially when it comes to integrating new daily habits or routines. Honestly, some Januarys my “goal” has just been to make it through winter and out the other side into spring! And so, I start my new year resolutions in September.
Furthermore, I like to start off small. I’m not sure why society likes to encourage us to give up or begin things “cold turkey” on Jan. 1. I use September and October as my on-ramping time to slowly introduce whatever I’m taking on anew, or intentionally letting go. In this season of gradual flux and change, as the leaves turn, as the lake cools, as the fruits ripen, as the sun lowers, so we can shift, too. Without any harshness or jarring. Without any self-loathing or self-blame for however we may have been doing things up ’til now.
I find this gentler, kinder approach works for me; it helps fortify my spirit and set my focus as I prepare for the colder months ahead. It helps me adapt to routines and ways of being that will already be second nature to me, when the actual New Year rolls around. Taking time for reflection now feels like a gift I will enjoy later. Just as many folks ’round these parts will spend September preparing jars of green beans and tomato sauce for nourishment in the winter months, so creating these intentions now yields sustenance later.
This is not to say I succeed every time: Last year with the polar vortex and heavy snowfalls at what was meant to be the end of winter, I felt at times isolated and disconnected from my local community and my “tribe” of friends in ways I could not have predicted. So, this month, part of what I will be resolving to myself are strategies and tactics to avoid this occurring again. I will be seeding my intentions for activities and events that will sprout in four to five months’ time and will help carry me through into 2020. Try it if this resonates with you … and Happy New Year!
Etienne White lives where the land meets the sky on a farm in Iowa County where she raises grass-fed, Old English Babydoll sheep, as well as pastured chickens, a happy farm dog, a wily barn cat and her two spirited children. She works at the intersection of marketing and sustainability, leading efforts to create mass consumer behavior change, for the greater good of both people and planet