What are you waiting for?

on August 25, 2021 • Grace

The other day, I saw this tweet and thought it captured something we’ve all felt:

Yes, August is definitely the Sunday of the annual calendar, the month of the already-slower summer season when people are most likely to be away for extended holidays, small businesses most likely to be closed, and all of your favourite content seems to be best-ofs or repeats of popular evergreen episodes because no one is doing anything. People don’t expect much from August. It’s even referred to by the media as “the silly season” because so many institutions are closed for holidays that everyone knows not to expect much of any substance.

But the other side of Sunday is the nagging anxiety that Monday is just ahead, bringing a new week of challenges, and the sense that very soon you’ll be expected to shift gears and be performing at top efficiency again. With September coming and, with it, the slow darkening of evenings, life will return to its familiar rhythms of work and school, and routine will once again prevail. The end of summer can sometimes give you that sense of idling at an unfamiliar traffic light, not sure when it will be your turn to go.

But there is no traffic light. The idea that August is something of a throwaway month is itself pretty silly if you consider it makes up more than 8% of your year. Even if you start working towards  something new today, you’ll be a week ahead of where you would have been had you decided to just sit August out. And if you think about it critically, by waiting for a future date to start a project—be it January 1st for a New Year’s resolution or the day in September when kids go back to school—you are assigning an arbitrary extrinsic motivation (a random day of the year) to something that you originally felt inclined to do intrinsically (I want to get fit/I want to find a new job/I want to start a new academic programme). And studies have shown that extrinsic motivations actually lessen our original, intrinsic motivations. These internal reasons for doing things are the secret to long-lasting change and personal development, because they come from a place of finding our purpose, and we shouldn’t so easily sacrifice them at the altar of convenience or social norms.

If you’re starting to feel a bit of that Sunday afternoon malaise, like you’re at a loss of what to do with yourself, the worst thing you could do is chalk it up to lost time. Instead, harness that spark for change and focus on structuring your time with a new routine . And if you start now, by the time the rest of the world follows suit around mid-September, you’ll be well on your way to forming a new habit. 

So why wait? There is no reason to let the dog days of summer make you feel like you’ve gone a bit stray. Today is as good a day as any to begin building the life you want to live, and going to bed without that Sunday feeling will be a reward in itself. 

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