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Why New Year Resolutions Aren't Enough

Jan 01, 2023

This week I want to share a spark that will help you use regular milestones to reset your motivation so you can harness the power of a fresh start more often.


The fresh start energy of a New Year wears off after a few days.

The sad truth about new year’s resolutions is the fresh start energy only lasts a few days. A feeling of failure is what stalls any creative program—to resolve to start again once a year is not enough.

This is why yearly resolutions don't work.

People often make overly ambitious resolutions that are hard to maintain or don’t have a clear plan for achieving their goals. It’s also easy to run out of energy and motivation once the sound of popping champagne corks has faded and the reality of day-to-day life kicks back in.

The solution is to make use of the Fresh Start Effect.

Professor Katherine Millman from the University of Pennsylvania researches something she calls the Fresh Start Effect.

She describes how temporal landmarks, i.e. birthdays, holidays, and new years, exist to motivate aspirational behaviour regularly, not just at the start of a new year.

“The beginning is always today”—Mary Shelley

Every day, every week and every month is a chance to harness fresh start energy.

Harnessing milestones such as Mondays or the start of every month gives us regular moments to generate the same kind of new creative drive and energy that the start of a new year does.

Think of every new day as an opportunity to have a fresh start every week and month. You can also have quarterly goals and review them regularly throughout the year to get yourself back on track.

Here's the step-by-step breakdown of the process


Step 1: Start by setting some yearly goals.

Make your yearly goals specific and measurable: Instead of saying, “I want to be healthier,” try “I want to lose 20 pounds by the end of the year.”

For extra brownie points, write the goals as if you’ve already achieved them; for example: in 12 months, I am 20 pounds lighter.

Step 2: Break your yearly goals in half.

Now that you have specific and measurable yearly goals, you can set a six-month check-in.

For example, if I aim to be 20 pounds lighter in a year, it makes sense that on June 30, I am 10 pounds lighter.

Write the check-in goals on your calendar with a reminder to check them and reset them if necessary.

Step 3: Set quarterly targets.

Once you have your six-month goals, you can divide them in half again and set quarterly goals.

So to use the same example, if I aim to be 10 pounds lighter in six months, it stands to reason that I will be 5 pounds lighter in three months.

Set reminders in your calendar to check in with your quarterly goals on March 31, June 30, September 30 and December 31.

Step 4: Decide on your monthly theme.

The first stage of the process was to set measurable goals and break them down into smaller measurable goals. Then, when you get to the monthly breakdowns, it’s time to develop the strategy to help achieve those goals.

I find monthly themes are a great way to stay on track, so let’s say that my first quarter target is to be 5 pounds lighter; I would outline three themes to help build the daily habits that will take me to that first check-in goal.

So my theme for January is sugar. My theme for February is walking. My theme for March is alcohol. These themes give me a focus for the weekly check-ins and daily habits to follow.

By setting a new theme for each month, you can view each month as a fresh start on the overall goal.

Step 5: Conduct weekly check-ins.

Once you have outlined your monthly themes, you can decide on some targets for weekly check-ins. Sundays are great for these because you can review how the week went and set the intention to improve on your progress for the week to come.

So let’s take the weeks of January as an example; I know my monthly theme is sugar, so I might start by replacing my daily cans of coke with cans of kombucha in week one, then I can build on that habit by removing all chocolate from the house in week two and so on.

By setting a new target for each week, you can view each week as a fresh start on the overall goal.

Step 6: Create daily habits.

The final step, and the only part where you have to do any work towards achieving your goal, is to develop a new daily habit.

So if my week one check-in for January is to replace all my cans of coke with cans of kombucha to reduce my sugar intake (my theme for January), all I need to focus on every day is breaking my coca cola habit and replacing it with a new habit, a can of kombucha.

By conducting weekly check-ins on your targets, you can view each new day as a fresh start on the habit you are developing for that week.

Takeaways

  1. New Year's resolutions don't work.
  2. The fresh start energy of a New Year wears off.
  3. Harness fresh start energy every month, every week, every day.
  4. Set measurable goals and break them down into chunks.
  5. Review your progress on yearly goals every quarter.
  6. The way to achieve any goal is to develop new daily habits.

‚ö° I hope this sparked for you why you should harness the power of daily, weekly and monthly fresh starts.

Please tag me on Instagram and let me know if you found this helpful.

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