Aside from setting resolutions, it is common to have the desire to reset, start over, or have a “fresh start” around the beginning of a new year. Harnessing this desire, or motivation, can be helpful in meeting and maintaining life goals throughout the new year.
THE FRESH START EFFECT
Picture This: It’s the weekend, you’re wanting to relax, but you also recognize that you desperately need to do laundry. Instead of starting the task, you promise to do your laundry as soon as Monday rolls around. On Monday, you find the motivation to do your laundry. This is an example of the “Fresh Start Effect.”
The “Fresh Start Effect,” first identified in 2014, describes a large increase in motivation to pursue goals and make life changes on the 1st day of a new year. This concept also describes the desire to put off tasks until the beginning of a new period of time, like in the example used above. Aside from increased motivation, fresh starts can also increase confidence surrounding meeting goals.
1. USE MINI-“FRESH STARTS” TO JUMPSTART MOTIVATION
The Fresh Start Effect can be used to kickstart your journey towards meeting your goals, but literature suggests that it doesn’t last very long. However, you can utilize this concept throughout the year as a way to maintain motivation over time.
For Example, the Fresh Start Effect has been observed at different “beginnings” of periods of time. For example, the 1st of the month, the start of a new week (Mondays), or even at the half-way point through the year during summer.
2. TURN RESOLUTIONS INTO “SMART” GOALS
Sometimes, a goal can be so large that it seems impossible to achieve. Break down larger goals into smaller goals using the SMART Method. Making smaller goals that are Specific, Measurable, Adaptable, Relevant, and Timely, you can reduce goal intimidation and increase achievability.
3. SWAP A GOAL WITH INTENTION
Setting resolutions for the New Year is a popular practice, but how often do we keep them?
Setting resolutions, or goals, can sometimes be burdensome. They can feel like “homework,” or something that you must get done instead of something you want to get done. Sometimes, achieving a goal can feel far removed from experiencing success and growth.
Additionally, goals come with expectations. These expectations can set you up for feelings of failure when you do not meet them, and can lead to an increased desire to avoid your goal altogether.
Swap your goals and/or expectations with intent. We live busy lives, and setting an intention allows room for interruptions, your obligations, and so on. You intend on taking action instead of expecting action to be taken. Taking the pressure off by setting an intention allows room for motivation instead of avoidance.
4. MOMENTUM FOR CHANGE
Changing behavior is at the center of every New Year’s Resolution, Goal, or Intention. You can ride the motivation of a fresh start to build behavioral momentum, the momentum to change behaviors, which can be utilized throughout the new year.
You can continue to build momentum by reinforcing your new intentions in different ways:
- Reward Yourself: Have a healthy snack, watch hour of your favorite TV show, etc.
- Have fun: Keep a Score Card or start a Daily Streak
- Collaborate: Have an Accountability Partner
- Celebrate: Practice celebrating all steps taken towards change, no matter how small
5. PRACTICE SELF-COMPASSION
Whether you set SMART goals or intentions, it is important to practice self-compassion. Self-compassion allows for self-care in the light of making a mistake, putting off a task, or not meeting a goal when you intended to. Self-compassion can help you navigate away from self-criticism, increase your ability to be mindful of what you are feeling or thinking, and humanizes mistake making and difficulties.
Want to identify and set goals or intentions for the New Year? Send us a message or give us a call at (816) 287-0252 to set up an appointment with one of our qualified therapists!