The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year's resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. The idea being, you make a promise you intend to keep for the whole of the year. Regardless of what resolution you commit to, the goal is to improve your life in the coming year. Resolutions can come in many forms. Some people make a promise to change a bad habit, such as quitting smoking or eating less junk food. I gave up eating crisps last year and apart from a few small lapses I reached the end of the year with eating only one bag and a few individual crisps at parties.
Keep your resolutions simple. Sometimes people find themselves aiming for an overhaul of their entire lifestyle, and this is simply a recipe for failure, disappointment and then the very negative feeling of guilt. According to one commonly cited statistic 92 percent of people fail to actually keep their New Year's resolutions. There are many reasons people can't stick to their resolutions, from setting too many of them to getting derailed by small failures
So, as learners how do we achieve keeping a promise to do something. Here are eight top tips to help yourself achieve.
Choose carefully -Last year’s, commitment to give up crisps was an important one. I love crisps - but they were not helping my weight. By choosing just one small thing that is easy to manage you are choosing carefully. If you are reading this and its past the all-important date of the 1st January, don’t worry you can start as soon as you have decided which goal to go for. January is still the new year!
Be realistic - Choosing to become an astronaut by the end of the year is not realistic. For those of you who have done the space project and read all about Tim Peaks journey to become an astronaut will understand that. So, think of something smaller. Not eating crisps was small enough to manage. This year I have been challenged by one of my leaners to learn a foreign language. Now you will all know because of my dyslexia, I have enough problems with English. So, this might be on the unrealistic list! If it was not for the following items below and the fact I can’t resist a challenge and I don’t like to lose.
Create bite-sized portions – If somebody told you to eat a whole loaf of bread, you would say “I can’t do that”. However, over the course of a week with toast for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch, it is soon gone. Therefore, the goal is not to be fluent in Spanish by 2019 but to know enough to get around on a Spanish holiday- Beginners Spanish – that is far more realistic!
Plan a time-frame – There are twelve months in a year and that sounds like a long time to do something. 52 weeks sounds even longer. However, they are also useful numbers. By the end of 2018, I will know and be able to use how many Spanish words? If I learn one word a week that will be 52 words. Will that be enough? May be not, perhaps two or three words might be a better number, altogether somewhere between 100 to 150 words. Some topics might require a few more words, for example, like greetings - hello, good morning, good afternoon, good night and good bye - that’s five. I would also like to order more than just a glass of water at a restaurant. So, each week, I am going to aim to learn five new words and so over 52 weeks I should be able to use 260 Spanish words. That is a good plan!
Make notes – this included writing the goal down. You can put this bit of paper up on the wall, on the fridge door, on the bathroom mirror. It all depends on where you need to see it. Last year, every time I went to order my groceries a little note popped up to say don’t order crisps! This year, I will be making cards with the words on: Spanish on one side / English the other, these will act as my word counter by the end of the year. I will also be setting 5 minutes a day aside to look at those words. At breakfast, I will be looking at, saying and writing those words. Accordingly, these will be kept with the porridge.
Treat yourself – If I am going to learn Spanish, then maybe, I should go to Spain to try it out. In our extended family of learners, we have some Spanish speakers. I will enlist them to help me along the way. They can test me once a month and then decide if I need a small treat. If I know 260 words by the end of the year then I will treat myself to a weekend in Barcelona.
Receive support – The reason why the challenge was issued in the first place was because the learner realised to reach their goal - they needed a study buddy. Having somebody to do something with you makes any task so much more fun, you can support each other, encourage one another when it’s a bit tricky, celebrate together when you succeed. So, we are saying to you - if you would like to learn Spanish, this year, let us know and we can come together as a group.
Tell people - Finally, tell someone about your goal! The more people you tell the more support you will get. Now, I have told you about my goal - it will be hard not to do it!