Be Wary of Fresh Starts

May 6, 2019 by Reen Rose

There is something inspiring about the prospect of a fresh start.

I can remember times when the thought of moving to a new place or school was a welcome relief. I could leave my baggage behind and start all over.

Of course, you rarely move without your baggage, but that is a topic for another day.

January is a common time to wipe the slate in different areas of your life. That is why New Year’s resolutions are so popular.

You are excited by the prospect of disregarding your failures and starting over. If you are good at it, you can pretend none of the other stuff ever happened.

Second chances, new opportunities, and clean slates are all blessed with a positive reputation. They provide you with a do-over.

You know as well as I do that life is rarely black and white.

You may believe that a fresh start is shrouded in goodness. However, research shows that starting over isn’t always beneficial.

Several recent studies support this theory. I am going to focus on one that used archived professional baseball statistics to show that starting again isn’t always a good thing. 

Baseball loves statistics, so there was a large amount of data to work with. The research team concentrated on seasonal batting averages.

Everyone starts the season at zero. The only time you get a fresh start mid-season is if you change teams. These were the players the researchers were interested in.

When players went to new organizations, did their batting averages improve, or decline?

The results were mixed. Some were better and some were worse.

Their next step was to assess whether the players were doing well or poorly before they were traded. This is where things get interesting.

Individuals who were performing badly before the move, tended to do better when they had a fresh start. Players who had good averages before the trade, were more likely to slump.

Having a fresh start can be rejuvenating in some instances, but not in all.

It seems that fresh starts are great if you’ve been struggling to change your lifestyle, meet your sales targets, or improve your grades.

If you have been doing well and then have to start over, you may have a setback and do less well.

This is important information to have not only for yourself, but also if you manage other people. Some individuals will benefit from starting their sales figures from zero in a new quarter, and others won’t.

Use fresh starts with caution.

If you are on track, keep up the good work.

If you are lagging on your personal or professional goals, then a fresh start may be beneficial.

To provide maximum success, allow yourself and your team to choose whether to start again or to carry on.

Don’t wait for January to start over. Monday, or even today may be the perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean.