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

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.

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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

4

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.

These 'fresh start' moments provide us with a temporary m...

Unrealistic and Sudden Goals

We decide to suddenly start to follow our new daily routine, incorrectly assuming that suddenly we have changed, and are now a completely different and new person.

It is unrealistic to suddenly change from today to tomorrow; it's better to change in a gradual manner.

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.

While this is a good start, being time-bound in our new self-commitments has its drawbacks.

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Destination Goals

While we set our personal goals, we make the common mistake of setting a 'destination goal', focusing on the end result,  without considering the hardships and daily challenges.

W...

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?
  • What do I look forward to?
  • 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.

Start by setting the alarm for you...

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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Your Relationship With Sleep
Your Relationship With Sleep

Many of us have a broken relationship with sleep. It’s rare for most people to wake up refreshed, rejuvenated, and full of energy.

We need to look into something we always overlooked or neg...

Basics Of Sleep

A night of sleep is made of five cycles, making us go through various sleep stages. This can be light sleep, deep sleep and REM stage of sleep when we dream and have eye movement.

During sleep, our body produces Melatonin and Growth Hormones, which are required by your bodies for regulating our internal clock and to restore our muscles, bone and metabolism.

Sleep Myths Busted
  1. We all don’t need a standard eight hours of sleep, as it varies according to our age, genetics and level of activity.
  2. Insomnia is actually of various types, from Onset (unable to fall asleep) to Maintenance(struggling to stay asleep) and other types like chronic and acute insomnia.
  3. We all do not have to wake up at 5 a.m., and the wake up time depends on our chronotype.
  4. Sleeping pills, like the types of insomnia, are different too. Benadryl helps you fall asleep, while melatonin pills regulate our internal clock.

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Force yourself to do things

Our mind has muscles. It memorizes patterns. By doing this over and over, you're building your willpower and self-discipline. 

Forcing yourself to do things...

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily."

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily."
Focus on the emotional reward

Focus on the feeling you feel after doing something that you know is good for you.

  • The adrenaline rush.
  • The feeling of being fit and healthy.
  • The relief you feel after having finished a big project.
  • The pride you gain from an accomplishment.
  • The confidence you feel after having faced your fear.

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Habit tracking

Is a simple and effective thing to do if you want to stick with a habit for good. No matter the format (calendar, journal, app), it provides immediate evidence whether you are making progress or...

The power of habit tracking:
  1. It creates a visual cue that can remind you to act.
  2. It is motivating to see the progress you are making. You don't want to break your streak.
  3. It feels satisfying to record your success in the moment.
To make habit tracking easier:
  1. Manual tracking should be limited to your most important habits
  2. Record each measurement immediately after the habit occurs

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The weekly review

It’s dedicated time to think about the past week, reflect on what went well and what didn’t, and plan for the week ahead. 

It’s a chance to get aligned with your goals and ensure ...

The 3 parts of a weekly review
  • Get Clear: process all your loose-ends.
  • Get Current: make sure all your items are up to date.
  • Get Creative: come up with new ideas to improve how you live and work.
Benefits of weekly reviews
  • You gain an objective view of the week: a weekly review forces you to practice intention by taking time to pause and reflect as you consider what you did versus what you planned to do.
  • You become proactive in planning: a weekly review isn’t only a retrospective, but a prospective too. It lets you run through the upcoming Monday to Friday proactively.

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Goal-Setting

Any goal or project will usually have these basic qualities:

  • A general ambition or motivation. (e.g. learn French)
  • A specific target. (e.g.  speak fluently)
Goals To Start In The Middle

When a goal has high uncertainty as to what level is achievable to reach within a particular time-frame, it is better to set specific targets in the middle of the process.

Plan your goals with the variables you do have: overall direction, time-frame, level of effort and strategies.

Reasons To Postpone Goal-Setting
  • Uncertain goals should be set in the middle. This will enable you to set the correct challenge level to maximize effort.
  • Some research shows that for very complex tasks, goal-setting can hinder effectiveness. This is because complex tasks are cognitively demanding in the beginning and can be frustrating because you can't perform adequately. To add on more tasks can impair your performance.

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Improvement with learning

From the moment we are born, we are always learning new skills. We see it in formal capacities in school or on the job, and informally, like learning from you buddy how to grill a steak.

Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins

“One skill you want to master in this day and age we live in, if you want to have an extraordinary life, is the ability to learn rapidly.”

Select your skill carefully

Be very selective in the skill you're trying to masker to avoid sabotaging your success:

  • Make sure it's applicable: The perfect skill either solves a problem you have or scratches an itch you have.
  • Be very specific: Specific goals are easier to pursue than vague counterparts. To set yourself up, narrow your skill down as much as possible. Ask what specific problem are you trying to solve, and find out what aspects you find most fascinating.
  • Make sure you love the process, not just the outcome: Pick a skill where the road is as exciting as the outcome. Then plan out celebration points along the way.

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Stop Lying Yourself

People tend to let themselves off the hook and take the easy way out much more often than they realize. Often, we hold on to an image or identity that we have of ourselves and let that image distor...

Being Productive Through Tracking

When you don’t track your habits you’re more likely to talk yourself out of certain activities when you don’t feel like doing them. Tracking reminds and confronts you with your failures, effectively punishing you.

Tracking also gamefies your habits, providing extra motivation to being consistent. That sets a chain reaction of benefits in motion that starts to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Effectively Tracking Habits
  • You can use tracking apps, sheets or a journal to track your behavior.
  • Decide which habits you want to track.
  • Decide on a timeframe for tracking.
  • Set a target for how many times you want to successfully follow each habit in your chosen timeframe.
  • Decide on which days you want to do which habits, or even schedule it in your calendar.
  • Mark successful and unsuccessful habit executions.

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