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更新时间:2017-11-8 19:03:02 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Is there a perfect time to set goals

Are you putting off a big project that you really should start today – perhaps holding out for the perfect possible time?


You could be on to something.


Most people decide to make changes in their lives around landmark dates. Mondays and the New Year are obvious choices for initiating a new, goal-oriented behaviour, such as getting started training for a marathon, getting out of debt or striving for a promotion.


Academics call these dates ‘temporal landmarks’ – important points on the calendar which mark the passage of time and help people organise their lives into ‘chunks’.


But experts suggest people are more likely to feel motivated if they launch goals at a time that is personally meaningful to them.


Hengchen Dai, assistant professor of organisational behaviour at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, is one of several researchers who have studied this phenomenon, called the ‘fresh start effect’.

加州大学洛杉矶分校安德森管理学院组织行为学助理教授戴恒晨(Hengchen Dai,音译)就是一位研究这一"新起点效应"的学者。

Dai says that whatever you feel is a “psychologically significant transition point,” where you can leave behind your past, imperfect self – and your failures – is a time you’ll feel more motivated. “If it has a personal meaning or personal relevance to you, you are more likely to take on some activities to pursue your goals.”


While this might be a weekly, quarterly, or seasonal cycle, you don’t need to stick rigidly to the calendar. In fact, you might have more success in getting started if you pick a different date – perhaps when starting a new job or the start of a new semester.


Birthdays are also a popular choice, particularly if you’re approaching a milestone age. One paper by professors at New York University and UCLA found people are more self-reflective and make big life decisions as they approach a new decade.


In fact, the study found a significant amount of people take on new challenges on birthdays ending in nine. So, you’re more are likely to, say, sign up for a marathon aged 29 or 39 than at 30 or 40.


Break points


New York-based career coach Rebecca Kiki Weingarten says her clients are always looking for fresh starts, but the timing “depends on each person's work style and motivational needs. Some clients plan for after vacations, [while] some are athletes and use their specific sport season and work around that.”

纽约职业教练里贝克·基吉·温加滕(Rebecca Kiki Weingarten)表示,她的客户总在寻找新起点,但时机"取决于每个人的工作风格和激励需求。有的客户规划假期结束后的事情,还有的客户是运动员,他们会利用具体的赛季来解决问题。"

Some people find that being laid off, or a relationship breaking-up is the best time to take on projects, careers, financial changes, or personal changes that they'd been putting off for a long time or ‘never got around to’,” says Weingarten.


Some of her clients are more motivated in the lead up to a significant birthday, an anniversary commemorating the birth or death of a loved one.


Success not guaranteed


People tend to have more long-term success with goals that require a one-off action, such as signing up for retirement savings.


But while we might be able to harness a meaningful date for a fresh start, this is no guarantee of success in the long run, says Katherine Milkman, a professor of behavioural economics at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and co-author of the study into the fresh start effect with Dai.

然而,与戴恒晨共同撰写那篇论文的宾夕法尼亚大学沃顿商学院行为经济学教授凯瑟琳·米尔克曼(Katherine Milkman)认为,虽然我们或许能为新起点找到一个有意义的日子,但却不能保证一定成功。

Dai agrees. “In terms of how long-lasting that behaviour will be and whether the persistence will vary based on temporal landmarks, that’s an open question we’re still exploring.”