Fresh starts are those times when we experience the opportunity for a “new beginning.” Common times that signal an opportunity to begin again are: New Years, Birthdays, first of the Month, first of the Week—Sundays or Mondays, and even Mornings.

For those of us in academe, new academic or fiscal years, semesters, or units can provide us with a feeling of renewed energy and an opportunity to begin a project or re-engage with an existing project anew.

That experience of starting with renewed energy is called the “Fresh Start Effect,” and behavioral researchers like Katy Milkman of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania have found that “Fresh Starts” can be a great time to adjust habits and patterns that are not working will for us. Although she is careful to remind us in her book, How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be (2021), to hang on to those habits and patterns that do work.

“So, if you’re hoping to make a positive change in your life but are pessimistic about your chances, perhaps because you’ve failed before and worry another attempt is likely to turn out similarly, my advice is to look for fresh start opportunities” (35).

The start of a new semester, the start of a new writing group, the start of a writing retreat, each of these offer opportunities for you as a research or scholarly writer at CSU to grab on to a Fresh Start and to channel its positive effects into your writing project and practice.

Milkman tells us that “Fresh starts increase your motivation to change because they give you either a real clean slate or the impression of one; they relegate your failures more cleaning to the past; and they boost your optimism about the future. They can also disrupt bad habits and lead you to think bigger picture about your life” (36).

Consider ways that you might begin your writing anew with greater optimism and sense of the bigger picture for writing in your academic career.