It’s back to school for everyone. And I mean everyone. Because there is such a thing as the School of Life – learned wisdom from personal and shared experiences to see us through the vicissitudes of life.
The first months of the year are times when many people come up with resolutions and lofty goals, with the good intention of sparking new beginnings in the way we manage our expenses, investments and sundry habits. Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, your January resolutions will likely vanish into thin air before the first quarter ends.
That’s okay, according to psychologists. Just give yourself a second chance. This notion of second chance is incidentally the subject of an interesting 2014 paper by three researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. So, it isn’t just talk shop. The paper reports scientific evidence in what the researchers called, the “fresh start effect”. The gist of this effect is that people are much more likely to set goals and plan for bigger things in their lives just after some temporal markers, which may be the start of a new month, the first day back at work, or after a vacation.
Perhaps you wanted to start saving for retirement but never really got down to it. Or you’ve been trying to take the first step to build an investment portfolio but got distracted by the baby, your job, or the Internet. That’s okay – find a convenient temporal marker and start from there. Think of this marker as the start of a whole new you. Indeed, the researchers also note that counselors who work with people who’ve gone through very serious changes in their lives, like a cancer diagnosis or an addiction recovery, found that after that turning point, these folks will often “describe their pre-change self as a distinct person.”
The change in drive and motivation that happens when one doesn’t give up but chooses to make fresh starts is what makes that effect so powerful. You can read the full paper here and make a fresh start this year to manage your finances better. Indeed, this blog is designed to help you take concrete steps in managing your expenses, debts, investments, insurance, and retirement goals. But you and you alone have the take the first step. If you’re new to this blog, I encourage you to start reading from the very first blog and work your way forward step by step. There’s a reason why every blog post on this site is numbered.