When Sophia and I missed a few days of ticking our checklists, it was so easy to lose sight of why we are doing this. To somehow organize our time and just be a little better each day. I am quite disappointed with myself for not being able to stick to it.
To establish a fresh start, people used two types of temporal landmarks – social and personal. The social landmarks were those that everyone shared: Mondays, the beginning of a new month, national holidays. The personal ones were unique to the individual: birthdays, anniversaries, job changes. But whether social or personal, these time markers served two purposes.
First, they allowed people to open “new mental accounts” in the same way that a business closes the books at the end of one fiscal year and opens a fresh ledger for the new year. This new period offers a chance to start again by relegating our old selves to the past. It disconnects us from that past self’s mistakes and imperfections, and leaves us confident about our new, superior selves. Fortified by that confidence, we “behave better than we have in the past and strive with enhanced fervor to achieve our aspirations.” In January advertisers often use the phrase “New Year, New You.” When we apply temporal landmarks, that’s what’s going on in our heads. Old Me never flossed. But New Me, reborn on the first day back from summer vacation, will be a fiend about oral hygiene.
The second purpose of these time markers is to shake us out of the tree so we can glimpse the forest. “Temporal landmarks interrupt attention to day-to-day minutiae, causing people to take a big picture view of their lives and thus focus on achieving their goals.” Think about those spatial landmarks again. You might drive for miles and barely notice your surroundings. But that glowing Shell station on the corner makes you pay attention. It’s the same with fresh start dates. Daniel Kahneman draws a distinction between thinking fast (making decisions anchored in instinct and distorted by cognitive biases) and thinking slow (making decisions rooted in reason and guided by careful deliberation). Temporal landmarks slow our thinking, allowing us to deliberate at a higher level and make better decisions.Daniel H. Pink – When
On hindsight, it seems like I have been having a monthly reset. At the start of each month, I am quite pumped up, then slowly (but surely) losing the motivation. September is exceptionally tough, it is the first month I have not kept track of my progress (or the lack thereof).
I suppose even if I use these temporal landmarks as often as my mood swings cause, the fact that I am still trying is good enough already. At least for now. In an hour, it is going to be the first day of October. I am not sure yet how I feel about my birthday month. Maybe I should not be too hard on myself. I am fortunate I get another chance to start again. The old me is lame, but this October I will move again. I only have to get through 15 days then I can do another fresh start on the 16th. Then I can breathe and try to make better decisions once again.
Do you feel like it is New Year’s Day every first of the month, too?
Sarah Day 1: 8/10
Move – not.
Sleep – 15 minutes short of 7 hours.
Sarah Day 17: 10/10
Move replaced by food delivery and movie time.