Blog 70: Fresh Start Effect by Xavier Lo, FIA, FRM, MBA

Happy New Year [新年快樂]! Hope everyone had a chance to countdown 2021 with friends and family. With the new year just starting though, lets explore a psychological effect [心態轉變] which we can try and use to make this coming year better than the last one: the Fresh Start Effect [新開始效果]!

I think all of you have already tried using this mental trick before. For example, have you ever said to yourself: “okay let me have one more week of eating great food, I’ll start my diet next week [下個禮拜先減肥]”, or “let me just take a break today, I’ll start working hard tomorrow [聽日先做嘢]”. These are all good examples of the Fresh Start Effect, which is when you try and separate your past performances with your current performance. A very typical way to do this is to use arbitrary dates or times to mentally have a separation. Its almost like when you’re writing an essay, you will use paragraphs or different pages to help the reader have a mental break.

When does this work best? As you can imagine from the examples above, you probably didn’t do very well in dieting or studying, and just need some sort of excuse to give yourself that motivation [動力] to push yourself harder again. The hardest part of any activity or process is the start, and this effect can help you get over the hump in the beginning. However, watch out for when this effect hurts you. If you were doing something very well, then the Fresh Start Effect will help you forget your progress in the past – which then means you will have to motivate yourself all over again. So if you find yourself in the zone [好集中] doing something, try to finish it the same day. Once you go to bed and wake up, it’s a new start and you might not be able to be so productive again.

As I said, most of you probably know about this and have been using this effect unconsciously. However, by making you guys aware, put this to good use and make 2022 your most productive year yet! Happy New Year again everyone – stay safe!

About the Author

Xavier Lo, FIA, FRM, MBA

Qualified fellow actuary (in UK and Hong Kong), Financial Risk Manager, and MBA graduate (listed on the Dean's List) with a passion for insurance, data science, and analytics. Experienced in a broad range of insurance roles (pricing, capital modelling, reserving, ERM), along with a touch of knowledge in banking. Member of the General Insurance Committee (2021), Actuarial Innovation Committee (2019 - 2021) in ASHK.

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