On social media, around this time of the year, you would be seeing a carousel of offers in the self-improvement landscape of learning programs, digital subscriptions, fitness programs, gym memberships, books, and whatnot. You are also likely to see a jump in posts shared on new goals, resolutions, and the works by people in your network.
What’s this hankering for change got to do with the new year?
Everything, if you go by behavioral scientist Katy Milkman. A calendar change marks up the discontinuity between yesterday and today. In doing so, a new year says to us, “Let’s do this over.” Much like the rush we feel with a professional (a promotion) or personal change (becoming a parent), the changing of the year offers a natural transition point between our old and renewed selves.
New years carry the possibility of a fresh start.
Our calendars are dotted with transition points from the commonplace (every Monday) to the special (becoming a parent) that strengthen our motivation.
Motivation is a crucial ingredient in the early stages of goal pursuit.
It is this spike in our drive that the world of commerce responds to with the carrots of discounts and limited-time sales.
So go ahead and set those goals for the new year. Sign up for those discounted subscriptions. Follow that up with discipline. Even approximating toward positive change is better than nothing. Progress over perfection.