Put Your Imperfections Behind You: Temporal Landmarks Spur Goal Initiation When They Signal New Beginnings

Dai, H., Milkman, K.L., & Riis, J. (2015). Put Your Imperfections Behind You: Temporal Landmarks Spur Goal Pursuit When They Signal New Beginnings. Psychological Science, 26(12), 1927-1936.

26 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2014 Last revised: 8 Jan 2019

See all articles by Hengchen Dai

Hengchen Dai

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management

Katherine L. Milkman

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Jason Riis

Harvard Business School

Date Written: August 15, 2015

Abstract

People often fail to muster the motivation needed to initiate goal pursuit. Across five laboratory experiments, we explored occasions when people naturally experience enhanced motivation to take actions that facilitate goal pursuit and why certain dates are more likely to spur goal initiation than others. We present causal evidence that emphasizing a temporal landmark denoting the beginning of a new time period increases people’s intentions to initiate goal pursuit. In addition, we propose and show that people’s strengthened motivation to begin pursuing their aspirations following such temporal landmarks originates in part from the psychological disassociation these landmarks induce from a person’s past, imperfect self.

Keywords: temporal landmarks; multiple selves; temporal self-appraisal; motivation; goals

Suggested Citation

Dai, Hengchen and Milkman, Katherine L. and Riis, Jason, Put Your Imperfections Behind You: Temporal Landmarks Spur Goal Initiation When They Signal New Beginnings (August 15, 2015). Dai, H., Milkman, K.L., & Riis, J. (2015). Put Your Imperfections Behind You: Temporal Landmarks Spur Goal Pursuit When They Signal New Beginnings. Psychological Science, 26(12), 1927-1936.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2420476 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2420476

Hengchen Dai (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

Katherine L. Milkman

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Jason Riis

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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