Are You Ready for a Fresh Start?
A new year brings new potential, new resolutions, and new hope. And while you may role your eyes at New Year's resolutions (like me), you can actually leverage a fresh start for real change. Wanna know how?
Behavior science tells us that we are more likely to change on the threshold of something new, or something that feels new. This is known as the fresh start effect.
So, what exactly is the fresh start effect and how does it lead to change?
The research behind this phenomenon shows that we are more likely to take action towards a goal after anything that represent a new beginning. January 1st is the most notable of these landmarks, but the fresh start effect applies to other new beginnings as well. A career crossroads, a birthday, an anniversary, holiday, or start of a new week can be enough to prompt the fresh start effect.
Why does this happen?
We take action during moments of transition. A special occasion, landmark, or date creates a fresh slate in our mind filled with potential and possibilities. We feel encouraged and inspired to make better decisions as we separate our “old” self from our “new” self to see more clearly what the new self could be.
The truth is, we tend to forget our past self more easily than we realize and think more optimistically about our future self than we ought. We overlook our past imperfections and "failures" on days that mark points in time. While this might sound like a bad thing, this provides momentum toward the future that helps us seize these fresh start moments with new vigor.
Here are 3 ways to use the Fresh Start effect to your advantage:
- Set short term goals. Maybe this means setting weekly goals, since each Monday is a fresh slate. Or maybe it’s monthly goals that give you a fresh start on the first day of a new month. Use holidays as your landmarks or the change of seasons. Use the power of new to propel you forward.
- Recalibrate when you get off track. If you drift from your plans, set a date in the future that provides a new start date. This might be a Monday, or a new month, but it could also be a birthday, holiday, or other special occasion. Align your goals with the start of something new or a memorable transition in time. Don't wait for another new year! Make a new plan ASAP.
- Imagine your future. To offset the immediate gratification we naturally seek, imagining the new you once you’ve accomplished your goal. See each choice today as a way to impact your future in a positive way to propel you to healthier choices in the short term. Write a "contract" with the future you that you will take good care of the current you.
2021 offers new hope. As it beckons us forward, embrace the opportunities for the fresh start effect to influence your life.
Whether it’s the start of the new week, a holiday celebration, or new job, lean into this opportunity to make positive changes to your life for a happier and healthier new year.
Listen to our new podcast episode ==> Clear the Way for a Fresh Start.