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"Fresh Start" effect

Can New Year's resolutions bring real change or how to achieve your goals at any time?

Gyms are usually more crowded at the beginning of the year, but already in February, the number of visitors decreases.

And we all know that New Year's resolutions tend to fade away in the rush of everyday life and purchased home gyms tend to turn into expensive clothes hangers -😊.

However, it turns out that this is not always true.

Because there is such a thing as


"Fresh Start" effect

Research shows that we are more likely to achieve our goals if they are tied to a significant event in our lives.

"Fresh Start" effect can help us overcome problems with willpower, which are usually the main reason that goals are not achieved.

It is believed that the beginning of a new week, month, year, new semester, birthday, vacation, the beginning of the beach season, etc. delimit the passage of time, creating new periods of mental accounting that transfer past shortcomings to the previous period and encourage people to "start a new life" - thus motivating them to achieve goals.

"Starting a new life", we give ourselves a chance to try again. Even if we have almost given up on something, a new beginning revives interest and gives us more confidence and motivation to move forward.


A fresh start allows us to let go of our baggage and start afresh

You want to change your habits, for example - start eating healthy or start running, and - "This time for real"!

But, such a commitment has already been made once, maybe even several times.

Habits are difficult to change, you remember your failures and disappointments, guilt, shame for the weakness of character...


And now you have two options - you can "grit your teeth" and continue to bear this burden - like "I have a slow metabolism" or "I'm so busy! I don't have time for myself", "I'm too old for this", etc.


Drop it and start all over again - to give yourself a fresh start.

Allow yourself to believe that your "old self" (the one who has no time for exercise or cooking) ends on December 31 (or at any other time), and your "new self" (the one who runs) begins on January 1.

It is important that you distinguish between these two selves - then it is much easier to believe that the "new self" will succeed. And if you believe in it, you will succeed.


This may seem strange, because, with the dawn of a new day, nothing really changes. However, human psychology is also not rational, and this separation of oneself allows you to get rid of past "failures" and believe that another way is possible and that the goal is achievable!


This belief is necessary to change behavior because when we believe that we can improve something, we develop self-efficacy. Self-efficacy increases motivation by allowing us to work on our problems, which ultimately leads to a change in behavior.


Making a decision to change something is the first step — you understand that you want changes, and determine what these changes should be. Without this first step, change is impossible.

Of course, the desire to change something in your life by itself does not guarantee success. But the probability that you will succeed increases.

And actually, that's all that matters.


How to motivate yourself so that you don't lose your commitment

Select a time landmark

Time landmarks are moments that stand out in time, such as your birthday, New Year, Christmas, and the Summer Solstice. Monday is also a landmark of time. These are just a few examples.

Time landmarks allow us to separate our “old self” from our “new self”. When we separate these two identities, it may become easier for us to believe that change is possible.


There is a large number of studies of time landmarks. For example, in a large study conducted in 2021, its participants were given the choice of whether to increase contributions to a savings plan immediately or at some future event that is important to them (such as the recipient's birthday or the first day of spring).

Those who chose a meaningful "New Start" date invested more than the participants who immediately started saving.


Use the "30-day trial"

It's easier to start trying something new for a limited period of time than to commit to doing it "for the rest of your life." And if you fail the first time, you can always start over.

Like a "free trial" or a "money-back guarantee", this approach helps you start trying something new and evaluate this new - whether the result really meets your expectations or not.

If you are satisfied with the result, it is easier to continue what you have started. If you are not satisfied - it was just a test -😊.

In addition, after the trial, you will almost always improve something or at least learn something.


Some examples:

  • If you want to eat less meat, you don't have to become a vegetarian right away - just take it as a diet, as an experiment, and maybe after 30 days you will realize that this is not really what you want. But maybe you will learn how to cook such delicious vegetables that you will want to eat them more and more often. Maybe you will like tofu, and meat will appear on your menu less and less often;
  • If you think that Keto or any other diet is good and will definitely help you lose weight effectively - try it. In this case, a couple of weeks might be enough to understand whether this is what you want or not - whether you feel comfortable and want (will be able) to follow this diet for a long time;
  • If you want to train more, you don't need to immediately buy a gym membership and start hiring a personal trainer. Just try to move more - it can be an evening walk, a bike ride, or a commitment to "gain" 10,000 steps every day. Your well-being will probably improve, and then it will be easier for you to continue - find time for "evening walks" and maybe also start going to the gym.

Before looking forward, look back

When we look back at our past efforts and refocus on what lies ahead, it becomes easier for us to separate the “past” from the “future”, creating a sense of a fresh start.

Reflecting on your past efforts makes it easier to let go of disappointment, start celebrating your achievements, and focus on the future.

Experts recommend starting by asking yourself the following questions (and ask them to yourself about once a month):

  • What did you put the most effort into in the last few weeks?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What else did you want to do but didn't? Why/what got in the way?
  • How did you celebrate your achievements (progress)?
  • What are you most looking forward to? (What goals, challenges, or projects are you excited about and ready to devote time (and money) to them);
  • What do you think are your advantages - what could help (accelerate) you to achieve your goal?
  • What obstacles are likely to be in your way (obstacles that you can anticipate in advance)?
  • What can you do (how to prepare) so that these obstacles do not interfere with you?

Change the environment

When you enter your home, where do you put your keys? They may have been stored in the same place since move-in day.

Our environment - the people, places, and things around us plays an important role in forming habits and also in changing habits. If the environment around us does not change, it will probably be more difficult for us to change as well.

When we change what surrounds us, our habits are broken because they were associated with signals in our previous environment.

The easiest way to avoid past mistakes is to get rid of everything that reminds us of them - 😊.

Therefore, if you want to feel as if you are starting everything from a "white page" - mix up the things around you, go shopping in other stores, change your wardrobe, go to work by another route, etc.


Some ideas for changing the environment to start a “new life”:

  • Clean up the kitchen – throw away (or donate) all the food that doesn't meet your goals. Then buy only healthy food and cook more yourself;
  • Conduct an audit of social networks or “detoxification". Social media can be addictive. Unsubscribe from everything and everyone for a while and take a break from social networks;
  • Clean out the closet. Get rid of clothes that no longer fit you or don't like, and make room for clothes that fit your "new YOU". Or vice versa – put your favorite dress, in which you no longer fit, in a prominent place as a reminder of the goal you want to achieve;
  • Set up a place to exercise. By simply freeing up space, buying a yoga mat, etc.
  • Create a "mobile gym" - clean your car and equip it with a gym bag, shoes, and some protein bars;
  • Make small changes to the environment – even a simple rearrangement of furniture will work. Regardless of your goals, just by making yourself feel a little younger, more desirable, or different from others, you can significantly increase your chances of success.

Think "Broad"

Focus on the essentials. In order to motivate yourself, it is important to follow your progress - record the changes, because that is the only way you can assess whether you are moving towards your goal or not.

So save your old photos and try to take pictures at least once a month. Write down your girths and the days when you put on the dress of the days of your youth again. Keep a diary about your feelings, dreams …


But how do you keep up the pace? How to avoid routine and laziness, which is slowly creeping into your life again?

Visualize your goal - how will you look when you achieve it? How will you feel? What will your life be like?


You imagine your new beautiful life - and it helps you not to forget to strive for it.

You record the achieved results - and this creates confidence in you that you are on the right path, that you are approaching your goal, that it is possible to achieve it, and that you will definitely achieve it!


Key takeaways

No matter how many times we "slip" or even "fall", there is always a chance to start all over again.

The easiest way to do this is to use the closest time landmark - you don't have to wait for the beginning of a new year to create a feeling of a new beginning. Research shows that we are 62.9% more likely to achieve our goal, if we start a "new life" on the first day of the following week.



The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts

Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers

How experiencing and anticipating temporal landmarks influence motivation

Attaining personal goals: Self-concordance plus implementation intentions equals success.

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