So we’re into the swing of things in the new year and hopefully those new year’s resolutions haven’t fallen by the wayside. I managed to cut out the beer for two weeks before lowering my guard and succumbing to a night out and I know why this happened, I hadn’t replaced the need for social company (involving drinking beer) with something else. Having a break from beer through January was the goal and I will continue to not drink for the remaining week and a half but I must find a substitute habit to fill the void. It’s not all doom and gloom though oh no!

As a new feature to my blog you can click on the bold words to go to vocabulary logowhere I have created a page with a definition and an example sentence for each word. There is also audio pronunciation and a practice spelling bee!  Idioms and phrases in italic are also linked to a definition.

The Good News

I have however, kept up the smaller task of running once a week and this is down to (because of) my ingenious plan of starting a running group. Not only does this create the regular habit of running every Wednesday (Anyone living near Rynholec is welcome to join us!) but it adds to it a support structure of other like-minded people and it’s much more fun than running on my own.

running legs

I am motivated by the social aspect as well as the fitness. Starting something is always harder than doing it once you’ve got going and is why so many of us procrastinate about so many things. Starting the group from my house means I have to be prepared as other people are now counting on me.

Furthermore, I have been running on my own at least twice in each of the last three weeks because of this new found enthusiasm and the will to be fit enough to run with other people.

How to Change Your Habits

In his book, ‘The Power of Habit’ Charles Duhigg talks about the habit loop. Put simply this is a three part process; 1. The Cue, 2. The Routine, 3. The Reward.

cue routine reward

The cue is the thing that triggers the feeling of need, if you’re a smoker that might be the smell of a cigarette, the sight of one on TV or it’s 11.15 and time for your break. The routine is the habit you want to change, in this case, reaching for the cigarettes. The reward is the little high you get from the nicotine and a chance to socialize out of the office. Identifying the reward is the key. If you like the social aspect of standing outside smoking you could substitute that routine with a walk (around the office or outside) a chat with a colleague or friend on the phone. If you think ahead and plan for it, when you get the cue you can substiute the routine with anything else that also gives you a similar reward; 30 press-ups, 5 mins of internet surfing, making a coffee etc.

Your English Habits

So, in terms of your English learning resolutions, have you developed any habits to help you along the way? If you want to learn quickly then you simply must develop the habit of regular and continuing practice.

How can you develop the habits that will help you to learn regularly, frequently and effectively? Here are a few ideas…

dictionaryPut a dictionary (yes, it’s old school I know!) next to your bed. Every morning when you wake up, randomly open the book and pick out a word. Create a mnemonic (See my recent post) for it such as a visual image or word association hook and then go about your normal day.

Richard Hhill English

Start your own conversation group with friends, the same day and time every week.


Choose a time when you are always free and set an alarm to spend 5 minutes learning something new.

metro logo.pngListen to an English podcast when commuting on the metro or in your car.

Share your own ideas with us here in the comments below and help others to improve their English quicker too. Remember, I read all your comments.


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