Happy New Year!
It’s year 2015. Will this be the best year of your life? I sure do hope so.
In this email, I’m going to share two things that I learned in 2014.
But before we get to it, are you making this mistake in English?
A Happy New Year vs Happy New Year
When you greet someone on the New Year’s Day, should you say “A Happy New Year!” or “Happy New Year?” Do you need that article “a”?
You might have heard people say, “Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!” So you might opt for “A Happy New Year.” Well in this case, it really means “I wish you a happy New Year.”
But if you’re simply greeting someone, “Happy New Year” would suffice.
When it’s someone’s birthday, you’d say, “Happy Birthday!” But you wouldn’t say, “A Happy Birthday!” If you choose to, you could say, “I wish you a happy/special/awesome birthday.”
So when you greet someone on January 1st, just say, “Happy New Year,” and you’ll be fine.
Now onto the subject. I’m going to share with you what I learned in 2014.
What I Learned in 2014
I had some successes, but most of the time I failed. Here’s my takeaway (conclusions, or something that you learned) from last year.
Focus On A Few Important Things
I was chasing too many rabbits at once (trying to do or get too many things). I wanted to wake up early, workout, change my diet, treat my hair loss, start a mobile app company, go on TV, travel, learn programming, learn to cook, study Chinese and Portuguese, make music, and write a book on the meaning of life, while I kept at my day job and family obligations. I was trying to do too many things at once. I got a mediocre result, or I made a very little progress in what I was trying to do.
I realized that I was spreading myself too thin (trying to do too many things so you cannot give enough attention or time to any of them).
Then, I came across this book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. This book taught me to prioritize and focus on a few things at a time.
Of course, I want to enjoy and experience many things that life can offer. It’s ok to be ambitious. But I need to go about doing it strategically. Doing a little bit of everything won’t achieve significant results. Being patient and focusing on a few things that are vital and impactful, eventually will do.
Ok, after I identified what to focus on, the next step would be execution (carrying out a plan or action). Which brings me to the next…
Habit Over Willpower
If you want to lose weight or become better at Chinese, you have to work hard consistently. And it doesn’t matter how you feel about it. What you do counts (to be significant or have an effect) more than how you feel about doing it.
Have you ever said to yourself, “I don’t feel like going to gym today. I’m going to skip today’s workout. Oh well, I can just workout tomorrow.” And that tomorrow never comes. I was guilty of this so many times.
We can’t rely on our willpower. Our willpower comes and goes. Sometimes we feel like studying English, sometimes we don’t. If you’re always looking for motivation to study English, it’s not going to last. You can’t rely on your willpower, motivation, or emotion. But what you can do, is to build a habit.
Habit is like your personal system that runs on autopilot. Before you go to bed, you brush your teeth, regardless of how tired you are. In the same way, you want to build good habits around areas of your life that you want to improve. Maybe it’s going to gym, or learning a foreign language.
To build a new habit, you need a trigger, routine, and a reward. You can read Charles Duhigg’s “The Power of Habit” for more ideas.
I wanted to wake up early. I needed to find a way to make waking up early easy and fun. So here’s what I decided to do in 2015.
Introducing 꼭두새벽 영단어 (Word of the Day) Channel
I started a new video channel called 꼭두새벽 영단어. It’s a video series intended for Korean students to learn a new English word each day. And this the first thing I do in the morning, before eat breakfast or shower.
There are two things that we will achieve through this video series.
- I have an excuse to wake up early. I’m forced to wake up early to shoot the video, because if I don’t, my you will be disappointed. And the last thing I want to see is your sad face.
- You learn a new English word in 90 seconds or less. Instead of carrying a vocabulary book, you can watch videos with a few clicks on your smartphone.
Here’s the first video. Please excuse my Korean (the video is in Korean. If you don’t speak Korean, perhaps you can learn Korean and English at the same time?!).
Hit the “Subscribe” button on Youtube, and let’s start a day with a fresh new English vocabulary every morning!
What's your new habit going be in 2015? Write me back an email or leave a comment below.