The importance of artificial start times (like New Year’s Day)

Why do so many people wait until New Year’s to start their resolutions? Why do I so typically begin my experiments at the beginning of a month? Why do we do the same for weeks or even days, resetting at the beginning of each for various projects?

It’s pointless, really. There’s no reason to wait. There’s no point in starting at the beginning of some arbitrary time.

Or is there?

As I think about it, I realize that the reason we do this – the reason people wait until New Year’s to start their resolutions, the reason I typically begin my experiments at the beginning of a month, and so on – is perhaps the most important part of doing anything.

The reason we do this is because of the psychological effect it has on us. Starting at what we see as the start, even if it is a fairly artificial beginning, helps us start. There’s nothing physical about it. It’s all mental, all emotional. I just think we – okay, definitely me – underestimate how important that part is in getting things done.

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