It is not uncommon when learning a language to ask yourself how to find the ‘right’ kind of motivation. The kind that we are all searching for. The kind that makes us want to jump out of bed in the morning and do anything we set our minds to.
That kind of motivation, even to work on the things we love the most, can be difficult to come by.
But it isn’t impossible to find when we dig deep and truly ask ourselves why we want something.
When it comes to language learning, we often start the process with the idea that if we dedicate a lot of time to it (like sit down for 5-8 hours straight on the weekend) and just get ourselves super ‘pumped’ or excited to learn, that we can learn everything we need in a short period of time.
However, after the initial excitement fades, and we start to realize that even though we can manage to work through all the technical things pretty quickly, we begin to see that it’s going to take a lot of consistency in order to move all the things we’ve been learning from short term to long term memory. Not to mention being able to speak fluidly and remember all the things we learned in all kinds of spontaneous conversations.
Well, ideally before we get started, but definitely once we reach that practice phase, it’s important to sit down and really dig deep and meditate on the question:
“Why do I want to learn this language?”
I encourage you to write this question in your journal, and really dig deep into the reason. Write down anything that comes to mind, and don’t filter your thoughts. It’s important to be honest about what comes up for you. It might be super deep, but it also might be super minimal. Either way, write it down.
After you’ve gotten your initial thoughts down on paper it’s time for phase two, which is to ask yourself 3 more targeted questions to get the most out of this practice.
- What is your story up to this point in your life that has helped you arrive at the decision that that next right step for you is to learn this language?
- Why should you learn this language? // Why must you learn this language?
- What future vision of the world will learning this language help you create?
Now that you have the next 3 questions to really dig deep in order to find the right motivation that lasts for the language learning process (or the mastery of any skill, to be honest), I want to explain each of them briefly and why they are important.
#1 Asking yourself about your own personal story up until this point is not only a great reflection exercise for your personal development, but it’s also helpful when trying to understand what your motivation is right now. For example, if you are trying to motivate yourself to learn something new, like a second language, and you are struggling to stay or get motivated, then understanding what got you to wanting to acquire a language in the first place will help you realign with that motivation and propel you forward.
#2 The differences between ‘should’ and ‘must’ shows up everywhere in our lives. Society, our families, friends, significant others, and even strangers on the internet will have an opinion on how we should live our lives, and even why we should learn a second language. However, the only person’s opinion on our lives that matters is our own. (That’s what the ‘must’ question is for). Asking yourself why you ‘must’ do something forces you to step away from everyone else’s ‘shoulds’ and really ask yourself why YOU as an individual really want this // what’s pulling you toward this new path. Additionally, when we understand all of the reasons why we should do something, it’s much easier to identify whether or not we agree with those shoulds, and identify what our reasons are for doing something independent of societies pressures.
#3 This last question will mean something wildly different to every single person that answers it, and also something different to you depending on what stage of life you are in. Nevertheless, it is important to reflect on, because whether your ‘future vision of the world’ is something small or very big, it is directly associated with the actions you are taking now in order to achieve it.
Move to a quiet and comfortable place for you to reflect. Remove all distractions, bring a notebook and pen and start writing. Once you are finished, and your answers are on the page, I want you to take a few key words or 1 key sentence that will help you remember what your why or purpose is for learning this language, and with that write it everywhere where you will see it and it will help you remember to take one step toward your goal every single day.
Then, let me know, what question was the most intriguing to you, and the most important in your own discovery process for the right motivation?