You heard that right. I want you to NOT start exercising and eating healthy. I want you to procrastinate! Here’s why. In almost 25 years of working as a Behavior Analyst in schools, I noticed a trend in behavior in January that I believe stems from the jolt back to reality following the holidays and Winter break.
January is a tough month. The days are dark and cold. The halls are no longer decked with boughs of holly. There aren’t gift exchanges, crazy spirit days, or cookies in the staff lounge. On most school calendars, the next break isn’t for a couple more months.
Over break, students and teachers have been home with their families, relaxing, eating when they want and what they want, staying in their pajamas all day long, seeing favorite extended family members, and just being merry. It is the ultimate reinforcement for a productive first semester of school, but it makes the return to school that much harder.
There is a complete loss of momentum that is a side effect of taking a long break from school. Teachers return the first week of January with less energy and excitement than they had leading up to the break. The vibe is much different this time of year. Students sense this lack of energy and respond with increased undesired behaviors.
It is a phenomenon behavior analysts might call a post-reinforcement pause, and it makes for a long, miserable month. So, what can we do to stop this train wreck? Procrastinate.
Don’t rush to start eating healthy. Bring some cookies to work the first week. Put off your “New year, new you” plan and just be the old you. Wear comfy clothes, plan to go home from work, and just veg out.
Find a coffee partner and take turns surprising each other with a latte and a note of encouragement throughout the month. Build momentum into your resolutions by slowly making changes in your routine rather than going cold turkey.