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Is September the New January?

Author Dan Pink says Timing Is Everything 

In his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel Pink digs deep into the question of timing. He explains that the timing for starting a new task (or working through an old one) can impact our outcomes and levels of success.

Pink sites researchers Hengchen Dai, Katerine L. Milkman, and Jason Riss, published a breakthrough paper on the science of timing and the importance of something they call the “Fresh Start Effect”. They found that just like physical landmarks can cause us to pay attention to our surroundings (think McDonald’s sign when you’re driving down a highway), there are certain dates and times that stand apart from our ordinary day-to-day life and serve as temporal landmarks.

By analyzing numerous sets of data, which included an eight-and-a-half year study of Google search history, the research team behind the Fresh Start Effect discovered there’s something particularly compelling about ‘firsts’ that spark our motivation. Specifically, days or events that represent firsts or new beginnings like your first job or New Years Day.

The power of “firsts”

No doubt you’ve experienced the power of “firsts” in your own life. Days of new beginning that inspire you to reach higher, go further, set a new intention and/or refresh a neglected resolution.

Pink explains there are at least 86 of these types of temporal landmark days/times that are especially effective for making a fresh start. We’ve linked to them here, but below are some that are especially relevant:

  • The first day of school or the first day of a semester
  • The first day back from vacation
  • The first day of the month
  • Mondays

There are only a few times a year where all four of these “firsts” work together to create a particularly powerful Fresh Start Effect.

This is one of them.

You’ve just come back from vacation and everywhere you look, you see the gear-up for the new school year. Whether or not you have students in class, the beginning of September typically conjures up back to school memories. (Ah, the fresh feel of new notebooks and the unbridled potential of crisp, brand new box of Crayolas!)

Ride the wave

We’re hard wired to feel the full force of “firsts” during this time of year which means we have the ability to leverage what Stanford Professor, and respected author, Dr. BJ Fogg calls the motivation wave.

Fogg explains that we experience motivation in peaks and troughs just like a wave. The more we attune ourselves to the natural rhythms of these waves, the better we can learn to surf them and allow their force to propel our lives forward.

During moments of “firsts”, when you have total clarity on what you want to achieve and your motivation is especially high, you can ride an incredible wave of momentum to help you drive huge results. Imagine being able to harness that momentum to accomplish the things that matter most to you.

Imagine what you could accomplish

Consider what the summer has energized you to do. Ask yourself: what goals, projects, leadership advancements, do I want to tackle before the year ends?  There is power in now.  And now is the time to capitalize on the power of the Fresh Start Effect and exploit the momentum of your naturally occurring motivation wave. Think about what you could achieve and how you would grow.  

Is now your time to:

When it comes to new starts and habits sometimes it's hard to get going. If you're feeling stuck, we can help - email us at hello@smartsavvy.academy.


Jody King Jody King 
Community Manager

Jody keeps our communities thriving. She has an eye for vibrant images and crisp text ensuring our newsletter, website, and social channels shine. With her energetic people-first attitude and attention to detail she ensures all our live, in-person events and workshops are a success.

Smart, Savvy + AssociatesSmart, Savvy + Associates are experts in helping marketing and communications leaders find people and develop teams that thrive and deliver inspiring results. As a people performance company, we specialize in finding marketing and communications talent in the Pacific North West. We also offer training programs for leaders and teams as well as options to become a certified coach or get coached.


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