New Year. New You.

Post written by: Michael McDonald.

Well, it’s that time of year again. As the sugar levels wane from consuming your bodyweight in After Eights and Twiglets, and your adrenalin levels set back to pre I’ve-just-wrestled-aturkey-the-size-of-Mike-Tyson-into-my-oven mode, your attention turns to the coming 12 months.

Hang on, message just arrived. What’s that? Another friend trying to enlist you into a Zumba class, specially discounted for January? Family member trying to get you to join a local book club proclaiming that if you set your mind to it “you can read all of Dostoevsky’s 12 novels before the end of the year!”

Zumba and book clubs are perfectly acceptable plans for a new year, I’m not knocking them. But let’s face it they’re the easy option (he says, having not been to a gym for 7 years).

Let’s be honest, if you want to make a change this new year then why hold back? What’s stopping you making some truly revolutionary changes in your life which not only builds new skills but lays the foundations for a significant detour in the trajectory you thought your life was on.
I have a question for you. What gets you out of bed in the morning? I’m not talking literally as in alarm clocks and cats meowing at the foot of the bed. I mean emotionally. I mean philosophically.

May I recommend that you take a break there to fully reflect on this question. Really, go away. Don’t read this piece any more until you have at least attempted to think about this. I’m not writing to clog up the internet with more vacuous words, but rather to be that elbow in your back as you stand on a train platform, that banging on the door at 7am on a Sunday morning and that rude awakening because think of the unfathomable sequence of events which happened in order for you to be alive today and yet your big goal this year is to force yourself to go to a gym for a few times just because that’s what everyone else seems to do at this time of year. Really?
Welcome back.

I’m expecting responses like family, loved ones and hobbies. Having those things is special, very special indeed. But does anyone jump up at the crack of dawn with that adrenalin pumping through their veins because they’ve got a husband or wife that they love? Does anyone spring from the bed punching the air screaming “yes I have a wonderful 2 year old!” Those things are important, but they’re a different kind of important. What really gets you up in the morning (or not wanting to) is most probably your job.
I don’t have any statistics to back up what I’m about to say but here goes. I believe through observation that the vast majority of people do not really like their job or wish they could change it, and I’m convinced that the work we are employed to do consumes such a significant part of our energy and time each day that we could make a 180 degree change in our mental and physical wellbeing if we channelled all of that energy and time into something which we cared about and which was aligned to our skills and interests, and that’s not even taking into the knock-on effects that could have on those around us.
I’ve had my fair share of shitty jobs. Cleaning Weatherspoon’s pubs and then washing my hands to pull pints on opening. Tore ticket stubs on bitterly-cold January nights working on the Millwall Football Club turnstiles. Camped out in underground print rooms in Hackney on the 8pm – 8am graveyard shift printing and binding thousands of council pamphlets and, totally lacking any kind of training, found myself selling washing machines for the CO-OP when the names Beko, Bosch and Indesit sounded more like the defence of the Hungarian football team which reached the 1954 World Cup Final.

In other words, I know it’s tough. You’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed. But the fact I’m trying to get you to begin by just questioning what motivates you, what your skills are and visualising what type of life you want to be living in January 2019, 2029 and beyond is because I believe that everyone, once they are in tune with these basic but such fundamentally profound questions, can get out of the rut they’re in or the apathy in which they’re wallowing in their professional lives.

So let’s get to the point. You are special, far too special to be stuck in a job that you hate or just aren’t satisfied by. If you aren’t in those categories then fine, I’m happy for you, but if not then let me finish by saying that you can set up a private limited company in England and Wales for £12. Less than the cost of a Zumba mat. You can knock-up and easily maintain a website with services like Wix for £50 a year with a few images, a contact form and a Paypal button. If you’re a language teacher for example, tired of having Ofsted breathing down your neck and under-appreciative head teachers giving you a hard time you can even get involved in the language education business, of which the UK exports more than £1.5 billion of English training solutions annually and the worldwide language learning market is set to hit £33 billion yearly by 2020. Working as a franchisee with organisations like Bambini Lingo, which merges music, fun and play to help children learn foreign languages is one way into this rewarding career. So, next time you’ve got that Zumba mat under your arm, why not take a moment to think of how that could be used to not only get fit for a few days in January, but carve out a new professional life for yourself, filled with new linguistic and social skills and helping the next generation develop a love for languages. What a beautiful gift to you and them that would be.

This article was written by Michael McDonald, English teacher, podcaster and Founder of Linguapractica and LinguapracticaVR – a London-based edtech business helping people learn languages through Virtual Reality. Stay up to date with Michael via LinkedIn at