Fresh Start EffectOpen Access

Fresh Start Effect

We're more likely to stick to habits made at the start of new time periods

We can motivate ourselves to self-improve by using a time marker (a new week, month, year or event) to wipe the slate clean and focus on being better.

Dai, H., Milkman, K. L., & Riis, J. (2014). The fresh start effect: Temporal landmarks motivate aspirational behavior. Management Science.

The study

Setup

11,912 members of a gym were surveyed over 442 days for their attendance.

Results

Results showed that, next to the baseline, the probability of people going to the gym increased at the beginning of the week, month and semester, showing our higher in-built level of motivation at the start of new time periods.

Study graph

Key Takeaways

Motivate around fresh start moments. 

How can you help people achieve their dreams by communicating around multiple time chunks, such as the start of the week, month or year, or even personal events like birthdays, graduations or job changes? 

Takeaway image

Target one-shots.

Fresh starts are particularly good at helping people make one-off decisions that perhaps they'd been delaying, such as getting that flu jab. What single task can you help people do around new time periods?

Takeaway image

Use to overcome failures.

There are countless fresh start opportunities to help people who have let good habits slip. Frame it as a "new you", which gives an opportunity to separate themselves from past failures. Get them started by being empathic and having them Commit to a Tiny Habit.

Takeaway image
Takeaway image
Fresh Start Effect

Fresh Start Effect

We're more likely to stick to habits made at the start of new time periods

We can motivate ourselves to self-improve by using a time marker (a new week, month, year or event) to wipe the slate clean and focus on being better.

The study

Setup

11,912 members of a gym were surveyed over 442 days for their attendance.

Results

Results showed that, next to the baseline, the probability of people going to the gym increased at the beginning of the week, month and semester, showing our higher in-built level of motivation at the start of new time periods.

study graph
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