We’re almost at the half-way point in the year, and I know I’m not alone in wondering where the time has gone! This half-way mark is also an excellent time to take stock of all those commitments you made and goals you set back in January. And maybe, just maybe, make a fresh start.
If, like so many people, you abandoned your new year’s resolutions within a few weeks of making them, don’t feel bad. They may not have been practical, authentic or even realistic for you. There are so may reasons you haven’t reached those goals. The months since January may have passed by in a blur of busyness and life’s daily challenges.
And if you have made progress on your goals and habits – well done! Take a look back over the last few months to recognise your achievements and identify what it is that’s really make a difference for you.
Regardless of your progress, why not think about how you can make the remaining six months even better?
Making a fresh start
The ‘fresh start effect’ is a well established phenomenon in the psychology of behaviour change.
“When we surveyed a panel of Americans about how they feel on fresh start dates such as New Year’s or their birthday, we heard again and again that new beginnings offer a kind of psychological “do-over.” People feel distanced from their past failures; they feel like a different person—a person with reason to be optimistic about the future.”
Katy Milkman PhD, ‘How to Change‘
Literally any day in the year could be a fresh start – you have 365 to choose from. The half-way point is as good as any! So if the goals you want to reach, or the habits you want to cultivate are still important and relevant to you now, it could be beneficial to make July your fresh start.
“Fresh starts increase your motivation to change because they give you either a real clean slate or the impression of one.”
Katy Milkman, PhD, ‘How to Change‘
Using the fresh start approach, you can draw a line under the first six months of this year and consign disappointments and setbacks to the bin. Whatever the change is that you want to make, you can restart in just a few days. You can learn more about making a fresh start in episode 096 of our podcast.
But let’s say you pick July 1st to be your fresh start – the day you’ll pick up an abandoned habit or start work towards a valued goal. You can add real value to the last few days of June by reflecting on – and learning from – the last few months. After all, you’re not going to be a completely different person overnight – so take some time to learn from your experience and ensure your plans for the next six months reflect reality.
Thinking about your attempts to make changes in the first half of the year, if things haven’t gone according to plan:
- Why haven’t you made the progress you’d planned?
- Did you try to change too much? Were you unrealistic with your expectations?
- Did external events and pressures knock you off course?
- How did your responses to these events make a difference?
And even if everything went according to plan in the first half of this year, it’s definitely still useful to reflect on the experience, to see what you can learn.
- What wins can you bank? How did you achieve them? What difference did they make?
- Where things did go well, what was the ‘magic ingredient’ in your success?
- Can you generalise this to other aspects of your life?
- What did you learn about yourself and your attitude to change?
Even with a planned fresh start, it’s best to go into the next six months having considered how you’d like to be.
- What goals can you drop? Has life moved on or your views of these goals changed?
- What habits can you cultivate to support your change?
- How will you approach things differently, based on your reflections from the last six months?
- Which of your personal values will you bring to life?
- How would you like to feel come December 31st?
And if 2023 is the year you’ve been considering coaching, why not schedule a free chemistry call with one of the WorkLifePsych team to find out if coaching is right for you? Check out our coaching page to find out more.