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Reaching goals with the science of the “fresh start effect”

The "fresh start" effect

The "fresh start" effect

The fresh start effect is defined as the feeling all individuals know at the beginning or end of an experience, week etc. It says that people are better at tackling their goals when they start on so-called temporal landmarks.

What is less obvious actually is the fact that not all beginnings are equally good. After a big success, you are very likely to know failure, for instance.

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Reaching goals with the science of the “fresh start effect”

Reaching goals with the science of the “fresh start effect”

https://psychologycompass.com/blog/reaching-goals/

psychologycompass.com

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Key Ideas

The "fresh start" effect

The fresh start effect is defined as the feeling all individuals know at the beginning or end of an experience, week etc. It says that people are better at tackling their goals when they start on so-called temporal landmarks.

What is less obvious actually is the fact that not all beginnings are equally good. After a big success, you are very likely to know failure, for instance.

Keep track of your performance

In order to reach your goal, learn to rely on performance metrics, in order to understand where exactly you stand in terms of performance. To allow a successful tracking of personal progress:

  • Define a deadline
  • Use a simple system to track your progress
  • Ask for help from a trustworthy person if you cannot do it yourself.*

Think big

After a period of success, you most certainly want to keep doing the things in the same way, as it has allowed you to achieve everything that was on your list, rather than starting all over again.

In order to make sure that it does happen like this, consider making a visual that can enable you to go over your past progress while keep your motivation alive or keeping track of your progress by means of monthly reports.

Embrace new beginnings

Whenever you are faced with failure, learn to embrace the idea of a fresh start.

In order to make a clean fresh start, consider letting go of past failures as well as focusing on your current objectives and making sure that you start right now.

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The Fresh Start Effect
The Fresh Start Effect

During the new year, our birthday or even the start of a school year, most of us have a feeling of a fresh start, a new beginning.

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Unrealistic and Sudden Goals

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SMART Goals are Not Smart

Most of the books dealing with goal-setting talk about S.M.A.R.T. goal framework - goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound.

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Destination Goals

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Life Direction

Instead of sticking to dream goals it is better to set a life Direction.

How to figure out a Life Direction? Ask yourself these fundamental questions:

  • What energizes me?
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  • When do I feel the happiest?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • What kind of places or people inspire me to strive for more?
Action Plan

Determine and plan in advance all the critical parts of your goal, and break it down in small, actionable tasks.

The small, divided tasks keep you motivated by providing a feeling of progress on a daily basis.

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Make planning a habit
Make planning a habit

Some mornings we feel motivated to create a to-do list, but that is often the exception. We need to get things done, even when we feel disengaged.

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Align your to-do list with goals
  1. Break down your big goals into daily tasks. You can't add "Get in shape" to your daily to-do list, but you can add "spend 30 minutes on my bike."
  2. Consider your week as a whole. You likely have multiple goals. Some goals benefit from daily activity, while working towards others a few times a week can create momentum.
  3. Add your have-to-do tasks last. We often fill our to-do lists with have-to-do tasks that crowd the whole day. Adding it last forces you to fit your have-to-do tasks around your goal tasks.
Have one daily priority

Many of us start our mornings with dozens of things we need to get done, but later realize that we haven't crossed any of them off our lists. We did get stuff done, but none of the things we planned.

A balm against hectic days that pass without progress is to choose a single activity to prioritize and protect in your calendar. If you struggle to select your top priority, ask yourself, when you look back on your day, what do you want the highlight to be? That's your priority.

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