Updated: Feb 23
So how many times have you said "Starting on Monday I'm gonna...[complete sentence with "throw away the biscuits / get fit / join the gym / go to bed early / blah blah blah"]?
Why is it always Monday? Or the 1st of the month? Or after a holiday?
Well it's because we're wired to enjoy and use the "fresh start effect"
Seriously. It's a thing.
We all love a fresh start. It's important we can employ them as and when we need because the complicated, full-on, hectic, stressful, mind-splitting challenges and demands of life simply demand that we can sometimes say "right, that's it - starting on Monday I'm gonna...."
Making a fresh start informally permits us to forgive those imperfections and faults of the past. Smashed a whole packet of biscuits Wednesday night? Doesn't matter, start again Monday. Having a big blow-out this weekend? Doesn't matter, fresh-start next week.
Giving ourselves a fresh start is a hefty tool in the quest for motivation. At TeamUp we effectively give ourselves a fresh start every Monday as the weekly points we've all accumulated resets on Sunday night. Had a rubbish week last week? No worries, let's go again.
It's also interesting that fresh starts come at certain specific moments throughout the year. If you're a teacher I bet you make little changes at the start of a term. Lent is another perfect opportunity to clean up some of our unhealthy habits as we ban things until Easter. What bigger a moment to 'reset the dial' than New Year? BTW, 80% of new year's resolutions fail within 6 weeks. Irrelevant but just saying...
A fresh start is an admission of our own dissatisfaction with ourselves. I bet you've never set a new year's resolution to do something you're already really good at. That kinda isn't how it works. What we're saying is "I don't exercise enough. I don't like how I look/feel. I want to be fitter." We're essentially admitting a fault - that we didn't exercise enough this year, and that needs to change.
And what a deal it is! If I can admit to a past failure, allow myself to write it off and give myself an almost-guaranteed chance of success simply by starting again on a specific date then sign me up, I'm there.
So whether you're enjoying the ultimate fresh start (New Year) or just having another go at something from next Monday, fresh starts are useful. They're not to be laughed at. You shouldn't automatically giggle at someone when they commit to starting again next week/month/whatever. Starting again show intent to be better. Kudos to you.
Although I'm rambling about the merits of fresh starts it's also really important to recognise the importance of not waiting/putting off until the ideal moment to get started with exercise.
If fresh starts let us effectively delay our bad behaviour for a few days/weeks until the time arrives then aren't we a little at danger of never actually getting started?
Unless you live the luxurious life of a younger person, maybe without the demands of a family (can you tell I'm in my forties and have school-aged children?) then you're busy. There will always be an event/celebration/party/break away/holiday etc coming up in the next few weeks. That's how life works. This means there's always a reason to delay getting started/making those healthy changes.
Consider the example that you choose not to start eating clean and exercising until after the holiday. You're probably thinking "I'll start when I get back because I'll just eat badly and drink too much when I'm away so it's a waste of time". Well, you probably will - that's what holidays are for. But if you start moving, getting healthy and active and eating better now - before you go away - you'll be fitter and you'll be even more keen to get back to it when you get home.
Fresh starts are nice. They're important and they provide a great ignition to a better, more active lifestyle. But don't use them as excuses for not getting cracking now.
The hard bit, I'm afraid to say is obviously not the fresh start (that's the easy, luxurious bit). The challenge is working out how you can use that new found motivation, that willingness to throw the biscuits away, eat clean and exercise regularly, to start a long-term (ideally life-long) routine, otherwise known as a lifestyle. Hmmmm, now we're talking. That's for another post I think.
A social fitness App start-up which motivates you to exercise more. Create teams with friends, family and workmates. Exercise where, when and how you like, log points and create your new, active lifestyle.