The date itself should be arbitrary. Thinking purely rationally, January 1st is no better than any other calendar date to embark on change.
Yet, the new year consistently inspires us to at least entertain making a resolution. Part of this is what psychologists refer to as the ‘Fresh-Start effect’; the idea that people are more likely to tackle their goals immediately following salient temporal landmarks (e.g., the outset of a new week, month, year, a birthday, etc).
“Any time you have a moment that feels like a division of time, your mind does a special thing where it creates a sense that you have a fresh start,” says Katy Milkman, Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions at the University of Pennsylvania and author of How to Change. “You’re turning the page, you have a clean slate, it’s a new beginning.”
It’s easy to see why the thought of a fresh start can provide a boost in motivation. It gives us a clear separation between our current selves and our past selves – relegating our less-than ideal behaviours to another time.
But what if you were already doing pretty well? Making progress in the ways you want? Would a fresh start still be motivating? Or might it actually set you back?
Fresh starts, describes Hengchen Dei, Professor of Management and Organizations at UCLA, can be a double-edged sword. “When given a chance to put past performance failures behind them, employees may be able to become more motivated and perform better in the future. However, for employees with recent strong performance, resets can be demotivating and costly.”
So, how can we make sure we enter 2023 with the right approach for us, as individuals or as part of a team?
A crucial step is to have an honest look at where you are currently in terms of your performance. This understanding of where you currently stand will allow you to form a clear direction of where you’re headed. Where possible, use facts and data to inform your assessment. For example, if you think you want to improve morning productivity, using a time-tracker or noting how you spend your early hours can show you patterns of how you use your time. You may see clear areas for improvement.
Utilising a coaching process called the OSKAR Model can also be helpful when conducting a self-assessment on your performance. OSKAR a simple, easy coaching tool that can help individuals, teams and organisations identify their goals and behaviour-drivers. The model has five steps: Outcome, Scaling, Know-how, Affirm and action, and Review.
OSKAR encourages you to ask yourself the following types of questions: What are you doing well right now? What could you be doing better? What do you want to do more of? Is there anything you need to make this happen?
Asking yourself questions like this can help you to recognise where you sit in terms of the present and past. It is this understanding that will inform you of best decisions for your future. For some, that will be embracing the motivational spike that comes with most of the start of a brand-new year. For others, it means continuing on their trajectory and fine-tuning their habits to keep momentum.
If you are interested in learning about coaching, or how Pro-Noctis can help you maximise your potential, see our full list of services.