PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

New Year... New beginnings?

Many people see the new Year as a new start in their lives. They would like to achieve something more than in the previous years: travel more, find a new job, move away or just be a better person.
New Year resolutions are closely connected to the idea of a new beginning. How many times have you heard the following from your friends or family:
I will stop smoking!
I will learn new language!
I will lose weight!
I will travel more!

Many of us see this time of year as a period to restart. Because, ‘a new year, a new me’, right?

Well, not according to most people. At the end of 2017, 64% of those who had made New Year’s resolutions said they'd failed to keep them. In fact, the poll found that, by January 6, one in five people had failed to stick to their resolutions.

Also, there seems to be a gender divide: a separate study found that men are overall less likely to keep their resolutions in comparison to women. Although with a margin of merely 4% (16:20), it’s clear both sexes struggle when it comes to honour those January pledges.

But, why do we find it so difficult to stick with our resolutions? According to scientific research, which looked at why we find exercising a struggle even though it’s good for us, humans tend to follow the ‘law of least effort’ (particularly after a day at work). In simpler language, it means that we just can’t be bothered.

So what is the way forward to prevent us from failing to accomplish our own resolutions? First, can you imagine that by the end of 2019 you will be able to say: ‘I have managed to achieve all my New Year resolutions? If you have that in mind, we have got some advice from experts on how to keep your resolutions.

New Year’s resolutions are believed to date back 4,000 years ago to the ancient Babylonians. At the start of a new year, Babylonians would vow to the gods that they would settle their debts, and, in return, the gods would offer support for the year ahead. The Babylonian new year, however, started in March, arguably a more uplifting time of the year to address self-improvement than during cold January.

“The colder weather and longer nights make January a tough time to start our resolutions,” says life coach Geeta Sidhu-Robb. “Our bodies instinctively want to hibernate and hide out at home instead.”

In fact, last year, a study from the University of Alberta in Canada found that the fat cells, which lie just under the skin, shrink when they’re exposed to blue light, like the one emitted by the sun – basically meaning that if your goal is to shed a few festive pounds, it’s actually easier in sunnier months.

Find joy in your resolutions

I would say that it is the most important thing in the whole process: find the fun! It might seem difficult at first, but you can trick your brain into finding pleasure in even the most unappealing tasks.

As psychotherapeutic counsellor Chanelle Sowden explains, attaching pleasure to a resolution can be achieved in many ways: through rewards, receiving praise from others, expressing pride to someone, or simply blasting out your favourite pop classic and singing along as you power through your resolution.

Review your past

Well, not completely, but the past resolutions which probably didn’t go so well. Try to analyse what happened and why they went wrong. And then, just try again.

Tim Hayes, founder of a fitness app which connects users to nearby personal trainers, suggests this approach: “Split a page into three columns: in the first column, list all previous resolutions; then, in the second column, write what the goal was – be specific, including the kinds of times-scales you set for yourself; “Finally, in the third column, write a list of reasons why it didn’t work, or, if it did work, detail how long you were able to sustain [it]...”

Armed with an honest account of past successes and failures, you can set super-specific and realistic goals, as well as incentives which will keep you motivated.

Change your thinking

You need to think about the goals like something you had achieved before, but then you lost it. It is nothing new, you know how to get there and you are ABLE to do it.

Let’s say one of your resolutions is to read more books – consider this 'claiming back your reading time' rather than 'a new thing on my never-ending daily To Do list'.

This is an example of “loss aversion”, a principle established by psychologists Amos Tversky and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, which describe the human inclination to favour ‘avoiding loss’ over ‘acquiring gain’.

Be kind to yourself

If you don’t succeed, don’t beat yourself up. Look at what has been accomplished and console yourself as you would a friend, says psychologist Dr Audrey Tang.
“After all, you are asking a lot of yourself,” Dr Tang points out. “You are trying to form new habits, and it’s not easy. Sometimes, if you’ve really tried but just haven’t made it, it can help to think about what you have achieved.”

So, there you have it - whether you smash it, get half-way or slip-up at the start - don't forget to give yourself some love for trying in the first place before dusting yourself off and making plans for 2020 all over again.

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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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