The 4 Most Effective Times for Setting a New Goal

By Brittany Lyte on 25 September 2014 0 comments

There's a bit of science behind birthday wishes and the resolutions we make on New Year's Day.

Research shows that we're more apt to achieve our goals and aspirations if we set out to do so at the start of a new month, the first of the year, or after we celebrate a birthday. Chalk it up to the "fresh start effect" — that little boost of willpower our psyche lends us when we attempt something new or difficult on a clean slate. Timing isn't everything, but when it comes to achieving our goals it's truly half the battle. Be it dieting or a pledge to call Mom more often, our odds for success are increasingly favorable if we begin the challenge with a tabula rasa. (See also: 6 Steps to Achieving All Your Goals)

Read on for step-by-step guide for figuring out the best time to start chasing after your next personal or professional ambition.

Give Yourself a Fresh Start

We're more likely to tackle our goals with vigor and a heightened level of commitment if we start the journey on the day after a holiday, the day after our birthday, New Year's Day, the first day of the month, or the first day of the semester on the scholastic calendar. Researchers have found that we reach our goals more readily when we create a new beginning, thereby distancing ourselves from our past failures and false starts.

"Framing certain days as opportunities for fresh starts may help people make choices that maximize their odds of achieving their aspirations," concludes the study on the "fresh start effect." "For example, employers could potentially reframe transition points in the workplace (a desk move or a return from vacation) to increase the adoption of aspirational activities."

However, it's important to note that we tend to lose steam as we move farther in time from our fresh start date. But if we survey and savor all the little successes that nudge us toward our end goal, we'll be more apt to stay on track.

Is Your Resolution Related to Your Health? Start on a Monday

Research shows that we're more likely to think about our health and well-being on a Monday. So, why fight it? Use this opportunity at the start of the week to assess your diet, exercise habits, and lifestyle choices. Make changes and set goals accordingly.

For example, Lisa Bonchek Adams, a Connecticut-based mother of three who famously tweets her experience living with stage four breast cancer, is the creator of #mondaypleads, a social media campaign designed to encourage people to make a doctor appointment they've been putting off every Monday.

Break Bad Habits, Start Better Ones After a Change in Circumstances

We can more easily break bad habits like smoking or adopt new positive behaviors like catching up with the news each morning if we begin the process after experiencing a major change in lifestyle or environment, such as a move to a new house or the start of a new marriage or job. Research shows that altering our lives in significant ways helps facilitate new changes to our routine. For example, if we aspire to become a more diligent student, it'll be easier for us to adopt a stricter study schedule while cutting down on our time spent watching television if we transfer to a different college, change our area of study, or move into a new living environment.

How do you decide to start on your next goal?

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