While the 1st Jan is a shelling point, “try the habit change as soon as you think of it” is another shelling point. The “immediately” one chose seems more natural and better. (If we were picking a date from scratch, I would personally prefer the lunar new year, since it also has connotations of spring-time, renewal, etc., but the 1st Jan is culturally well established already)
Obviously this doesn’t apply to people who are not thinking about how to improve their habits all the time. For me and other productivity nerds (ie. people reading this post), we don’t need the push of the 1st Jan to look at our lives and decide on things to change. We don’t need the ritual to stick to the habit either, for that we have beeminder! For people who do need this push, I would agree that having the ritual of the 1st Jan is beneficial.
I am actually very pro-ritual (see my thoughts of Marie Kondo above in this thread), but I’d prefer putting on a cowl and sacrificing a cucumber in a candle-lit room whenever I add a new goal, since that doesn’t require me to wait up to 12 months before I get to make the change!
Of course, it is only a few days to the 1st Jan right now, so why not make use of the ritual now? Well, because that would require breaking my existing shelling fence of ‘immediately’, which I do not want to do. For people without this shelling fence in place, then I agree that it would be silly to ignore the power of the ritual of the 1st Jan (but I would also suggest making your new year resolution a habit of making and breaking habits).
Happy new year beeminder users, and thank you beeminder for giving me an alternative to the ritualistic motivational power of the 1st of Jan.