By: Dedy Hidayat

Early this month, in the comfort of my couch, I was watching “The Big Bang Theory” on Netflix for the fifth time; yes, you read it right. The series is so charming and witty that I cannot help myself make it as my go-to movie when I need to relax and recharge.

Science, humor, and social dynamics make this 2007–2019 American sitcom delightful. The show follows a group of scientists and academics who see the world through the eyes of eccentric Shel-don Cooper and grounded Leonard Hofstadter. It’s no surprise that “The Big Bang Theory” is one of the most-watched sitcoms. It appeals to a wide audience by blending complex scientific concepts with everyday life and humor. With their quirky habits and relatable struggles, the characters become almost like friends, letting us into their geek culture, romantic adventures, and personal growth.

As we move into January 2024, Season 7, Episode 24 stands out because it’s the only time Sheldon says, “I’m tempted to turn over a new leaf.” Shel-Don is known for being very set in his ways and not wanting to change. At this time of the year, this saying, which means to change how you act or to start over, really hits home. People often think about themselves, make resolutions, and look for fresh starts at the start of a new year.

In that spirit, let’s look at some of the idioms we have in English language that speaks about new beginnings:

Start from Scratch

“Starting from scratch” means to embark on a task or project without any pre-existing advantage, resources, or groundwork. This idiom likely finds its roots in the world of sports, where ‘scratch’ referred to a starting line etched directly onto the ground, signifying a race’s beginning without any head start. For instance, when a research team undertakes an exploratory study in a novel area of health science, they are metaphorically starting from scratch. They must develop their hypotheses and methodologies entirely from the beginning, as no prior foundation exists in this unexplored domain.

Wipe the Slate Clean

The phrase “wipe the slate clean” means to forget about past mistakes or failures and start over. It sounds like this phrase comes from a time when slates were commonly used in schools. These slates made it easy to erase mistakes, which stood for the chance to start over. An illustrative example of this idiom can be seen in scientific research. Researchers may decide to “wipe the slate clean” when a clinical trial fails to prove their hypothesis. This means that they have to rethink and change their approach, putting past failures behind them and getting ready for future trials with a fresh outlook and plan.

New Lease on Life

“A new lease on life” is an idiom that signifies a rejuvenated outlook or improved situation. The phrase likely originates from legal terminology, where a ‘lease’ refers to a contractual agreement. In this context, a ‘new lease’ implies a fresh start or renewed opportunity. This idiom can be particularly relevant in academic or research settings. For example, when a new funding grant is awarded to a research project that was previously facing financial difficulties, it can metaphorically give the project a ‘new lease on life.’ This infusion of resources revitalizes the project, enabling the researchers to continue their work with renewed vigor and hope.

So, what words or idioms do you find interesting and want to share with us? We welcome you to share your favorite words and idioms, and explain their meaning. I await your insights and contributions. Now, still related to new year and starting anew, here are three tips for creating a sustainable new year’s resolution!

Creating sustainable new year’s resolutions:

  1. Starting a new habit is often more effective than quitting a bad one. This is because we transform deprivation into positivity, making change more appealing. The key here is to ensure that the new activity we want to turn into a habit is something we enjoy or are interested in. This intrinsic motivation helps us maintain the habit. For example, if you want to reduce weight but hate exercising, don’t make a New Year’s resolution to exercise more. Instead, find other physical activities that you enjoy to occupy your time so that you don’t use that time to binge eat. This way, the change will be more sustainable.
  2. Setting specific, realistic goals provides a clear path to success. Your goals should be both specific and measurable. Instead of vaguely aiming to ‘exercise more,’ set a precise goal like ‘jogging for 30 minutes, three times a week.’ This specificity simplifies progress tracking and reinforces commitment. Ensure that your goals are achievable and not just wishful thinking. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to demotivation. Therefore, aim to align your goals with your current abilities and circumstances, while still challenging yourself and keeping it enjoyable.
  3. Share your goals and partner up with people who can support and hold you accountable. This accountability partner can be someone with similar goals or someone you trust to keep you on track. They can encourage, advise, and work through issues. Collaboration makes the journey to your goals less isolating and increases the likelihood of success because you have someone to celebrate your milestones and keep you focused during tough times.

Each step forward, no matter how small, is progress towards your goal. Good luck!

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