Lend Your Voice to Freakonomics Radio

We’re working on an episode about behavior change — essentially, how to get yourself to do the things you should be doing but often don’t. It revolves around the fascinating research of Katy Milkman at Penn. For example, she and her colleagues have noted a “Fresh Start Effect”:

The popularity of New Year’s resolutions suggests that people are more likely to tackle their goals immediately following salient temporal landmarks. … We propose that these landmarks demarcate the passage of time, creating many new mental accounting periods each year, which relegate past imperfections to a previous period, induce people to take a big-picture view of their lives, and thus motivate aspirational behaviors.

What we’re looking for are your examples of fresh starts — whether it’s a new timeframe, job, relationship, living situation, etc. — and how it may have motivated some aspirational behaviors of your own.

Use your iPhone, Android, or other recording device to make a short audio recording of your answer and e-mail the file to radio@freakonomics.com. Tell us your name, where you live,  what you do — and, most important, your Fresh Start story. We’ll pick through the best, weirdest examples and make them a part of our show. If you’re too shy to record your voice, give us a shout on Twitter, on our Facebook page, or in the comments below. But audio is what we’re really after.

Many thanks!

Rachel Godsey

I watch certain Netflix shows only when I'm on the elliptical. I pick a cliff-hanger type series that makes me want to exercise so I can see what happens next. Result: I can't wait to exercise every day!

By the way, I am an occupational therapist that specializes in working with children with autism. I use this technique daily in my treatments. We find highly preferred items, food, and/or activities and use them as a reward or positive association for positive behavior. It works like a charm IF you can find what the child "highly prefers".

Looking forward to your show on this cognitive therapy.

April Harris

I know I should pursue my writing projects but I don't.

I also know that money drives most of my (in)actions.

I have a jar on my counter collecting $1/24HRS I don't write. The proceeds will go to my friend's Mary Kay side hustle.

I can't stand Mary Kay, but I love my friend's consistency & focus.

She's got $2 so far and I have made (albeit little) progress on these projects. [Insert zen proverb regarding "every journey starts with a single step" here.]

There's also "death meditation"...morbid....but indeed effective.

Dave Kulansky

Watching TV shows, movies, and playing computer gaming are three things I enjoy, but really can justify in my limited time. I can tolerate using the treadmill while doing these... Over the last 12 months I've walked about 1000 miles over 300 hours -- and watched/played for an equal amounting time.

Similarly, I only listen to Freakonomics when I'm mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, or rarely when I fly. Luckily there was a recent snowstorm and I got to catch up on some pat episodes!

Let's all keep up the positive behaviors!

Deviant Ollam

I feel that fresh starts have their most impact (at least for me and many folk in my life) when they are tied to a /geographical/ or /spatial/ change. Landmarks on a calendar are often when people "claim" they can make a fresh start or do something new... but the significant upheaval in routine that comes with -say- moving one's home or rearranging the house (often throwing out lots of old items and with them old routines) tend to have been associated with the biggest and most meaningful changes in my life.

Plenty of stories in my past, from changing my health to changing relationships, to founding a company, to starting a family. Each of those big steps, plus many small ones, took place when I turned my personal space upside-down. That's now something I advocate heavily for many, many friends.

Want to make a real impact on something you are resolving to do? Throw away as much as you possibly can and then put your furniture in a new place... hopefully in another part of town. ;-)


Nancy Hudgins

After retirement I fell into despair thinking that my life was over. One day a friend and I were having lunch when one of her co-workers stopped at the table and engaged her in a brief conversation. She introduced me and he asked me "and what do you do?" I just quickly blurted out "anything I want to. " Ah, in that moment my new life began. Yes, I could do anything or I could enjoy doing nothing. Enjoying life was my fresh start.


When my "hooker" boots wouldn't zip past my calves, I knew it was time to actually use the gym membership I've been paying for. Three weeks later, and these boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do, now that my calves aren't so fat. Short term goal = met.