How experiencing and anticipating temporal landmarks influence motivation

Curr Opin Psychol. 2019 Apr:26:44-48. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2018.04.012. Epub 2018 Apr 30.


Temporal landmarks, or moments that stand out in time, structure people's perceptions and use of time. We highlight recent research examining how both experiencing and anticipating temporal landmarks impact motivation and goal pursuit. Experiencing a temporal landmark may produce a 'fresh start effect', making people feel more motivated to pursue their goals right after the landmark. Anticipating a future landmark may also increase people's current motivation if they are reminded of an ideal future state. We review one prominent explanation underlying these findings: temporal landmarks can create a psychological separation between past, current, and future selves. We also propose other possible explanations and discuss circumstances under which experiencing and anticipating temporal landmarks may cease to be motivating, or even harm motivation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Motivation*
  • Time
  • Time Perception*