Many people have asked me how I stay motivated. In order to answer this question, I need to also define a few things. When people talk about motivation, especially related to language learning, I get the impression that they expect to be motivated 100% of the time, or close to it.
To me saying, “I am motivated” and “I am happy” fall into the same category. We have ebbs and flows in both and it is unrealistic to achieve 100% motivation or happiness 100% of the time. Sadly, as with many other things in life, there is a gloss put over many attributes people aspire to, including beauty, intelligence, confidence, happiness and motivation.
No one person can say with 100% confidence that they are any of the above, all of the time. Feeling pressure to do so is depressing too. So, my first piece of advice to maximise your motivation is to not compare yourself to the image you have of other people. What you perceive is likely to be a mere illusion anyway. Living in a shadow is certainly not conducive to a positive feeling that engenders motivation.
Many people I meet like to portray themselves as they want to be seen. This is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. In fact it can help them to feel motivated to live up to the person they want to be. The difficulty comes for the onlooker…how do I measure up? This person appears confident, is extremely motivated and everything I aspire to be etc. etc. etc…
Let’s break this down. It is unlikely that someone out there, selling a product for example, will say, “You know, sometimes I just don’t feel motivated…”, or “I think I am lacking in X” with any sincerity, or mention any real and current issue. Why? They want to show they have solved a problem. It doesn’t sound good to their market. They may acknowledge things that don’t work for them, or things in their past, which they have overcome. Indeed, this is a marketing strategy employed either consciously or unconsciously. In certain areas people may say they are getting over issues too. I am talking minor problems, nothing major. Remember, I am only tackling this from a language learning perspective here. 😉
Well, let me be blunt. Sometimes I don’t feel motivated for any of the following reasons:
* I am tired
* I feel sick
* I have deadlines and not enough time
* I feel a bit down
* I just don’t feel like studying
It happens to me and it happens to a lot of people…and, you know what? I accept that I am human and that this is part of life. We have all sorts of things going on. I refuse to beat myself up about being human and for not achieving a maximum 100% of an impossible dream.
Why accentuate these negative points?
Well, I am a realist and sometimes an optimist. In my opinion, it is important to know that not being super-duper man/woman is OK. Doing your best is what counts. Not beating yourself up about being human is really important. You risk putting extra and unnecessary pressure on yourself, whilst creating a mountain to climb. Give yourself realistic goals to keep yourself motivated!
Now, how do I tackle my lack of motivation when I notice it?
Here are some ideas:
* When I feel tired, I listen to audio material, songs, revise something I studied before or watch a film (in the target language or with subtitles in that language – depending on how tired I am ;))
* When I feel sick, I let my body rest and do nothing but let myself get better – if you don’t feel well, don’t force it and prolong your pain is my motto
* When I am lacking time, I do short bursts of study by reading and/or listening to material over lunch/during a break
* When I feel down, I pick out songs that get me pumping and watch inspirational people, who ooze enthusiasm – David Mansaray is a great choice for this
One of the key things that I like to do for motivation is to visit a place where the language is spoken. This might be where you live or somewhere further afield (if you are able to travel). Having spent some time in Turkey half-way through my A2 course, I feel ready to carry on again and take on the A2 exam and start on B1!
What do you do to motivate yourself?
Join me on my SpeakingFluently Facebook page and interract with me and other language learners. We can always motivate each other!