It may seem like New Year’s Resolutions are completely arbitrary, but it might actually make sense to wait for January 1st to roll around. A new study says that landmarks like Mondays and New Year’s Day help us dissociate from our older “negative” self.
In five lab experiments, researchers discovered that any significant date, like the “beginning” of a week, a month, a semester, or a year, led to more people following through on their goals. They call it the “fresh start effect”, describing any event that helps you leave the past version of yourself behind and look forward towards success:
People tend to attribute negative traits and failures to their past selves while maintaining a positive image of their current selves. Dates that stand out as being more meaningful — such as the start of a new week or financial quarter, a birthday, or a holiday — signal the start of a new, distinct time period. These “temporal landmarks” make it easier for people to mentally separate from their past imperfections and failures.
While the researchers note that this is casual evidence, it’s worth taking note considering January 1 isn’t too far off.
Why Monday is the Best Day for Setting New Goals [Association for Psychological Science]