Hengchen Dai | The Science of Goal Setting | My Instruction Manual

The Science of Goal Setting

Why do we set resolutions at New Year’s? Scientists have uncovered a psychological phenomenon known as the Fresh Start Effect. It’s the idea that big events like the start of the year, the first day of school, or a milestone birthday encourage us to make positive changes in our lives. One reason? These so-called temporal landmarks allow us to relegate mistakes to a past imperfect version of ourselves, and imagine a better version beginning with the temporal landmark.

In this episode, we’re joined by Hengchen Dai, a researcher at The Anderson School of Management at UCLA, who was part of the team that identified the Fresh Start Effect. Later in the episode, we’re joined by mindfulness contributor Joelle Anderson. She says the positive emotions that arise during meditation can be challenging, and offers tips on how to cope.

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Episode 60 Show Notes

[00:00] Welcome and Intro

Keith explains the research that led to the concept of the Fresh Start Effect.

[4:45] Featured interview with Hengchen Dai

Hengchen Dai is an professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

In this conversation, Keith and Hengchen discuss:

  • Hengchen explains “temporal landmarks” and the “fresh start effect” [5:25]
  • The psychology behind the fresh start effect [9:10]
  • How upcoming temporal landmarks affect current motivation [10:45]
  • Are people more likely to keep goals set at temporal landmarks? [13:40]
  • Is a fresh start always a good thing? [18:00]
  • Where to find Hengchen.

[23:50] Mindfulness contributor Joelle Anderson on coping with positive emotions

Joelle Anderson is a therapist specializing in mindfulness meditation and creator and host of the Kernel of Wisdom YouTube channel.

In this conversation, Keith and Joelle discuss:

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