The Fresh Start Effect and Your Midyear Reset

Fresh Start Effect
Fresh Start Effect

Research on the “Fresh Start Effect” reminds us that the beginning of the year is not the only time to make a resolution.

I recently spoke with someone who’s had a difficult time resisting the comfort foods at family gatherings. They had been faithful with their New Year’s Resolution to eat plant-based most of the year until the temptation was too great this summer.

When June rolls around, many people who made January resolutions have a difficult time remaining consistent. At six months old, those resolutions may seem like distant memories!

This struggle isn’t limited to people who’ve committed to dietary changes. Researchers at the University of Stockholm’s Department of Psychology looked at the New Year’s resolutions of over 1,000 people.

The areas they most wanted to improve, by percentage?

  1. Physical health – 33 percent
  2. Weight loss – 20 percent
  3. Eating – 3 percent
  4. Self-improvement – 9 percent
  5. Mental health and sleep – 5 percent
  6. Work and studies – 4 percent
  7. Tobacco -3 percent
  8. Consumption – 2 percent
  9. Personal finance – 2 percent
  10. Drinking – 2 percent
  11. Friends and family – 2 percent
  12. Home environment – 2 percent
  13. Hobbies – 1 percent
  14. Engagement – 1 percent
  15. Love – 1 percent

Nearly two-thirds of these resolutions focused on health and diet. However, regardless of its category, sticking with any commitment for an entire year can be a struggle.

For those who’ve stayed faithful to January resolutions, this week is a week to celebrate for making it halfway through the year!

For those who’ve failed in keeping a resolution, take heart. Today is an opportunity to recommit to a goal with a half-year resolution.

The Fresh Start Effect: Leaving Failed Resolutions Behind

Research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business found that the number of people searching Google for the term “diet” jumped during “temporal landmarks.

The Wharton team labeled the motivating force behind the increased search activity as the Fresh Start Effect.

The Fresh Start Effect applies to each day of the year that establishes the outset of a “new mental accounting period.” These are the days when we feel most inspired to leave our undesirable behaviors behind.

When compared to the yearly average, the Google searches on “diet” jumped:

  • 14.4 percent on Mondays.
  • 3.7 percent on the first day of the month.
  • 10.2 percent for federal holidays.
  • 82.1 percent at the beginning of the year.

So let’s think about taking advantage of a…

Midyear Fresh Start Effect

Now that we’re halfway through 2021, why not consider making a fresh start with your resolutions, dietary or otherwise?

For those struggling to maintain a plant-based commitment, I’ve come up with some suggestions to help you succeed in Round 2.

First, tweak your January resolution so it’s less challenging. If you failed the first time, you’re more likely to fail again.

So this time, cut your original resolution by half.

Limiting a resolution can be difficult because many of us like to believe we can do better. And of course, we can!

But proving to ourselves that we can succeed with small self-improvements gives us the motivation to continue taking incrementally larger ones.

How might your follow-up attempt to becoming 100-percent plant-based look with a small-step approach?

You might want to consider Suzy Amis Cameron’s advice to consume One Meal a Day (OMD) of plant-based foods.

Or take a look at Jonathan Safra Foer’s approach of consuming plant-based foods for breakfast and lunch. Then allow some flexibility during dinner.

Make a Fresh Start Effect Resolution That Can Work for YOU!

Having experienced the incredible benefits of going 100-percent plant-based, I have mixed feelings about encouraging others to “go halfway.”

That said, I also recognize that other people deal with their own realities. And cutting your big resolution in half may be just what you need to stick with it through the rest of the year!

I haven’t been struggling with my diet, but it has been challenging for me to keep up with my blog writing this summer. So, taking my own advice, I’ve decided to write half as many blog posts the rest of this year. Instead of writing five to six a week, I’ll be publishing three a week.

Cutting my resolution in half is not a failure. It’s embracing a fresh start!

So, what goals would you like to see as you start the second half of 2021? Take advantage of the Fresh Start Effect and make your half-year resolution now!

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