Landmark moments influence our aspirations and motivation. These moments can be personal, such as your birthday, or social, such as Thanksgiving. Behavioral researchers find that motivation for self-improvement increases during landmark moments. This explains why there’s nothing stopping us from making life resolutions any time during the year, but collectively, most wait for the New Year. Based on the fresh start effect this makes sense. Nothing says new beginning more than a new year.
In addition to the new year, landmarks such as one’s 21st birthday, the beginning of the month or start of the week, first day of school, influence when we aspire.
Additionally, fresh starts are not limited to dates. For example, religious rites offer people a chance to start over or to be reborn. Rituals also offer similar opportunities for cleansing and offer a blank slate, such as confessions in Christianity. Or in Hinduism, bathing in the Ganges river cleanses us.
Does Aspiration Lead to Achievement?
This particular study doesn’t measure success, but there are promising recent data on New Year’s resolution and follow through.
In the United States, according to international research data and analytics company, YouGov, in 2020:
- 49% of those who made a resolution kept some, but not all of their resolutions.
- 35% say they kept all of their resolutions
- 16% say they did not keep any of the resolutions.
It’s possible that those who make resolutions are already motivated in the first place, but that doesn’t take away from the results.
We can always create landmark moments strategically in our lives, independent of social calendars. Symbolically, savasana (corpse pose), the final pose of any yoga practice, represents death and rebirth. One can argue that after our yoga practice, we give ourselves the fresh start effect. This means that YOU can take control of your landmark moments, rather than waiting for time to pass in order to aspire.
Moreover, we know that there are ways to aspire and set goals that lead to more consistent follow through. This includes goals that add instead of subtract. In this instance, the goal of eating more fruits and veggies is more sustainable than the goal of reducing your intake of junk food.
In addition, the art of goal setting can also be applied to your yoga practice if you want to get deeper in a pose.