For many, the end of the year/start of the next is symbolic of fresh starts. I get that it’s just the next day (and quite often you can still taste the night before on your breath) but it feels like so much more than that, and I personally need – and try – to embrace that fresh, new, uncluttered energy, and more importantly, get closure on 2022 – however shit or great it has been.
The way I see it, the end of the year is akin to a breakup – you might have had a completely toxic year that you’ve been waiting to leave for months, or maybe it’s been the best thing ever and you were in love but you just need to move on to pursue new things.
Why is it, though, that it so much easier to think about being productive in the New Year? Because it so is. I’m writing this having eaten exclusively beige for longer than I’m willing to admit, and maintaining an embarrassingly high screentime but I’m so ready to eat 45 of my 5 a day, learn guitar and go on runs every morning in January.
A study by Hengchen Dai (Associate Professor of Management and Organisations, UCLS) identifies this phenomenon as the Fresh Start Effect, where people are better at tackling their goals when they start at temporal landmarks. I’m guessing this is the same as having to wake up at round numbered times – I’m not getting out of bed at 7.12, are you insane? I’ll wait for three minutes until 7.15 for no reason. The productivity that comes with this Fresh Start Effect stems from being able to “disassociate past performance outcomes from current or future goals” ie, we’re not getting bogged down by past failures, because that was ‘so last year’.
Your ex-year might have been a bitch. It might have messed with your mental health, made you stop seeing your friends, or stole all your money. Or maybe it was a delight and introduced you to new people, encouraged a healthy lifestyle and got you promoted – either way, let’s move on.
It’s time for a new start. Good luck with your break-ups, at least you won’t bump into 2022 in Tesco x