Over the past week onboard the Queen Mary 2, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on the year – what went well, what did not-so-much and think about what I want to do with our fresh start back home. Although I really love the process and “doing” once I get started on something, whether that’s making a presentation for work, writing a blog post, undertaking something artistic, or soon designing and decorating a new home, I often feel quite overwhelmed by a totally blank slate. However, since I know that a lot of research shows that a big change like a move, a different career, or a new year can supercharge our ability to make big changes to our habits, I want to ensure that I make the most of the opportunity. Even though many people are adverse to traditional New Year’s resolutions, there is well documented power in what Wharton School professor, Dr. Katherine Milkman, refers to as “salient temporal landmarks.” Her work shows that immediately following one of these significant points of time (whether that is a new week, month, year, birthday, or other milestone) people are much more likely to pursue their goals because these “temporal 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.”
Temporal landmarks, as defined in Psychology Bulletin by Dr. Michael Shum of Northwestern University, are “distinct events that stand in marked contrast to the seemingly unending stream of trivial and ordinary occurrences that happen to us every day [and] have been shown to structure our memories and experiences.” They could be reference points which are socially constructed like academic schedules and calendars or they could be more personal points of punctuation like major life transitions, events or experiences. But in short, they help us to organize past, present and future which is why they can be so instrumental in making positive changes or motivating us to work towards our goals.
According to Milkman’s research, temporal landmarks allow us to separate our past (and usually “inferior”) selves from our present superior ones and help us to envision our future idealized ones. They allow us to distance ourselves from the failures or shortcomings of the past and present a fresh start or clean slate for aspirational behaviors; the actions and activities which move us towards our goals in any area. She argues that “by creating discontinuities in our perceptions of time, experiences, and activities, temporal landmarks may promote taking a broader [and higher, goal-relevant] view of decisions [making us] more likely to evaluate… actions based on the desirability of the end state (or goal) [we] hope to achieve rather than the time and effort required to achieve it [leading us] to make choices that are more oriented to goal achievement.” For this reason, any time a logical fresh start opportunity arises, it’s psychologically wise to maximize it.
For me, a new home on a different continent in addition to the new year definitely constitutes one of those optimal temporal landmarks to capitalize upon! And so even though it seemslike January and our eventual settling in Grand Rapids is still somewhere off in the murky, distant future, the squares remaining on the calendar would argue otherwise. Therefore, in between the hustle and bustle of the travel, family time and Christmas festivities, I’m trying to outline what my top priorities for 2019 will be. And on the other hand, anytime there is such a major change to the usual routine, it’s equally important to protect those good habits we want to continue to maintain. Which is why I’ve been working on a bunch of new recipe ideas to keep things interesting and healthy in the new year. But in the meantime, I’m looking forward to one of my favorite chocolatey treats once we get back to the US of A – my Paleo Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes.
Paleo Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes
Prep time. 15 mins
Cook time. 30 mins
Eggs 3 each
Honey 2 TBSP
Coconut Oil .25 cup (60 ml)
Coconut Flour .25 cup (30 g)
Tapioca Flour .25 cup (30 g)
Cacao Powder .25 cup (30 g)
Baking Powder .5 TSP
Strawberries, Chopped .33 cup (55 g)
Strawberries, Sliced 2 each
Sea Salt Pinch
Preheat the oven to 350 F / 180 C and line a muffin tray with cupcake liners or brush with a small amount of melted coconut oil.
Melt the rest of the coconut oil.
In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut flour, the tapioca flour, baking powder, cacao powder and sea salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the coconut oil and honey, stirring well to combine.
Then add the dry ingredients and mix just to combine (avoid over mixing). Then fold in the chopped strawberries.
Divide the mixture amongst the prepared muffin tray and then press one strawberry slice onto the top of each.
Bake in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes or until cooked through (check via the toothpick test).
Allow to cool and enjoy!