January seems like such a terrible time to make resolutions; the cold, damp weather always inspires me to hibernate and conserve my emotional and physical energy, rather than stretching myself and making changes. Instead, I feel most alive in late August and early September. Where I live in the western United States, late August is the moment when summer tips over into autumn. Long summer days grow shorter as the evenings and mornings become dark and cool, providing a perfect contrast to the bright, warm sunshine of midday. The stifling heat of summer gives way to more comfortable temperatures, awakening my brain and body to new possibilities. Garden produce reaches its peak and my kitchen counters overflow with an abundance of zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, beets, and peaches. The world is alive and changing rapidly and I want to tap into this new energy.
I cannot remember a time when August didn’t mean the start of a new year for me or my children. I graduated from high school a number of years ago, but then spent years in college, and now work for a university. Each new school year I begin to feel energized about making changes: this year we will get up on time and our mornings will be peaceful and positive; now that the weather is cooler I will start exercising again; I’ll try freezer meals and better menu planning to avoid the dinner-time crunch; the kids and I will do a better job keeping the house tidy, and I will teach them more about basic housework and cooking; we’ll start family scripture study again. The list goes on. After the free-for-all of summer, everyone in the family is excited to get back into a routine and back on track with school and music lessons.
Unfortunately, like most resolutions, our new commitment never seems to last. By the time October gets here I fear that we will be back to going to bed late and rushing out the door late for school and work, in a crabby mood due to lack of sleep and poor planning. I’m great at making goals and terrible at following through with them. I want to change and progress, but I usually find myself falling back into old routines and habits rather quickly. This school year is also different because I’m going back to school–I’m starting an online master’s degree that will take the next three years to complete. When I look ahead and try to think about how to add school into my already full life, I draw a blank. It’s easier to take things one step at a time and just think about getting through this day or this week instead of seeing a bigger picture of the future. Making goals, though, requires a vision of how I want things to be long-term and I’m having a hard time doing that. I think my main ambitions for the next few years will be to not have a nervous breakdown, flunk out of school, or lose my job. So perhaps this fall needs to be a time of hibernation, not growth, and we’ll just have to muddle through the coming year the best we can.
Which times of year make you want to stretch and grow, and which make you want to hibernate? If you’ve managed to be successful at setting goals and keeping resolutions, what has helped you to make positive changes in your life?