A numerical target

The year 2015 just began. Only three days have passed since then. Still new. Brand new. Or so people think.

When a new year comes, it is always time to make a New Year resolution. I am not sure this universally applies to everyone on the planet, but some people seem to like making such a plan or a determination. People discuss losing weight this year, studying for the TOEFL this year, or quitting the current job this year.

I personally don’t do this. I mean, I don’t express my plan in a generic term like that. That would get me nowhere. Or wherever I can go, that would mean I have reached the goal for the year. If I say, “I will lose weight this year!” and on the very New Year’s eve, I get on the scale, and I find I have lost 0.5 kg. “Yay! I did it!” Can I proudly say this? In a sense, I did it, but in a more reasonable sense, I didn’t make it. Besides, in order to lose weight, what did I do for that year? Probably nothing worth mentioning. I may have tried to avoid sweets after dinner, but I couldn’t. I may have gone out to jog for a while, but let up soon and dropped by a convenience store to get some sandwiches. I may have ordered one beer instead of two, ending up more because it was fun talking with friends over beer.

Many TOEFL test takers around the world are by now hoping that their scores improve this year. However, “improve” alone cannot complete your resolution. You will have a similar end of the year 2015 to the above hypothetical situation of mine.

My humble advice therefore would be that your dream be expressed numerically. If you just want to “improve your TOEFL score,” it doesn’t tell you exactly what to do for that goal. But if you want to get a score of 23 in the Listening Section, or if you want 3 more points in the Speaking Section, and if you know where you are now, you can deduce what you need to do.

No problem to read English books for fun, but if you think you will be able to “improve your TOEFL score” by reading without a particular purpose, you will end up saying on the New Year’s eve, “Yay I did it! I got 78! Last year, my score was 77!”

It will take you another 30 years to get into business school.

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