LTL REFLECTION: making goals real

LTL REFLECTION:using goals to motivate myself

It’s been less than a month, and already I’m losing interest in learning more Arabic words.

What’s wrong with my motivation?

First of all, I need to ask ‘what IS my motivation?’

I have no daily need for Arabic during the working week. I live in a Malay-speaking area with English and Hokkien / Mandarin often used around me as well. No Arabic, though. On weekends, I socialise with Arabic-speakers, but the ones I’m closest to are fluent in English. So, where’s the motivation?

Nice. I’ve just talked myself out of learning Arabic and all the study and slog that goes along with learning another language. This will free up a lot of time for surfing the web and watching TV shows and napping.

“Learn Arabic” is a pretty dreamy, fluffy, unattainable kind of goal; I need a better one.

Learning another language is a long game. Even if you can work language-learning miracles in six months, it just means you worked at it eight hours a day, six days a week for the magical six-month period. There is no urgent need in my life for me to speak Arabic, but there’s no doubt that Arabic ability would certainly enhance both my work and social lives a great deal; it would definitely add value. But that ‘value’ only kicks in after long, long hours of active participation in the language. It’s a long time to wait.

In the long run learning another language is definitely worth it, but I’m living in the ‘short run’. I need to adjust my goals to make them more achievable.

‘I want to speak Arabic’ is not a good short-term goal. Learning a language is a long-term project, but I need to set myself some solid, specific and achievable, short-term goals. I need some better goals.

Here they are:

  • I will learn at least TEN new words a week
  • I will spend at least TEN minutes every day learning new words
  • I will look for and record at least TEN opportunities to use my new words in real life (outside of my practise time) every week

These goals are very do-able and very specific. Next time I put off learning new words (something I have been doing a lot of lately), I will just remind myself that it’s only ten words or ten minutes, and I hope that will be a good motivator for me to just do it and get it out of the way. I’m also going to log the times I have taken the opportunity to recognise or use my new words in a real life setting.

Checking off achievements on a list is a very satisfactory feeling, and something that fits well with my habit of recording activity. I’ve found keeping a money journal or calorie counting journal has helped me regulate my spending and eating habits. I no longer keep a money or calorie journal (I’ve fixed those bad habits!), but keeping a notebook is something I do at work, so there is no reason why I shouldn’t keep a language journal in the back of my work notebook in order to keep track of my interactions in Arabic and chart my progress as I look for more opportunities to use my new language.

Next week I’ll be writing about the seventy new words I’ve learnt – and how I dropped them into some kind of less than random real world conversation somewhere.

But that’s next week; right now I’m going to spend 10 minutes reviewing my latest batch of words from last week.


2 thoughts on “LTL REFLECTION: making goals real

  1. You do pick the hard ones. have found that I can listen to radio when a language other than English, and pick up on the content as I have already learnt a few words. Maori etc. I think it is a bit ozmotic, but it may mean you have to have it on in the background. What is Arabic for, Bloody stop it Tom!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s like you and your garden – you have got it the way you want it now, but it was a long process to get there. You have to start with small, realistic goals (like digging up and throwing out all the old beer bottles!).
      Nothing good ever happens overnight.


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