(taking a short break during our walks through London)
We’re back. It’s been about four months since our last post here, mainly because so many things were going on. In the past months we’ve helped put on two awesome events (World Domination Summit and Pioneer Nation), successfully raised money for a new college we are helping to launch in Portland called the Wayfinding Academy, went to Europe for a family wedding (along with some sight seeing and a special bike tour), and did a road trip through California for a month to see family, friends, and celebrate another family wedding (Michelle’s brother). In between, we’ve been doing some house/pet sitting. Needless to say a lot has been going on but we’re still trying our best to make intentional choices to live life the we want (and still trying to figure out what that looks like). Hope you enjoy the latest thoughts:
About Completing a Personal Challenge
Over the last year or so, I’ve been telling Michelle and others that one of my life goals is to learn three languages: Japanese, French, and Spanish.
It’s a lofty goal, and to be honest, I’ve been thinking it might be ridiculous to achieve until I volunteered at the World Domination Summit and hosted a workshop for someone named Benny Lewis. Benny is a special guy because he can speak over 20-something languages. That’s his thing. He has devoted his life to learning languages, and more importantly, teaching others how to learn languages at “Fluent in 3 Months.” But Benny started his workshop by telling folks that learning languages has always been difficult for him. Really? How could that be? What stuck out to me was when he explained that the major barriers to learning a new language is setting unrealistic goals, lack of dedication, and harsh self-criticism.
Notice he didn’t mention any excuses like age, or whether or not the language is difficult (Like Dutch. Have you heard the Dutch language?). He talks about motivation, discipline, planning, and self-confidence. In other words: the biggest limiting factor to learning a new language (or anything really) is ourselves.
I’ve tried to learn languages in the past and failed (exceptionally well). But something in what he was saying clicked, and I suspect it’s pretty normal for most of us – that trying to do anything new and making it stick requires intentional thought, planning, motivation, and determination.
I realized why I had failed in the past.
I’ve been pretty good at finding motivation or being willing to try something new, start a challenge, but I didn’t know how to set myself up for success and complete anything. I was missing crucial pieces such as good planning and discipline.
*mind blown again*
The Missing Pieces
I would like to note that I have been able to achieve things in my life that I never thought would be possible for myself, such as:
- completing a half-marathon (a couple of half-marathons now)
- doing the full 90 day challenge of P90x
- living abroad for at least 2 years (our Peace Corps experience)
- living on a budget
- an intentional diet for 30 days
Now these may not seem like a big deal to you, but for my life, I am very proud of these things (which says a lot about the person I used to be). One huge reason why any of that was possible: I met Michelle.
Michelle brought the missing pieces to my life to do the things I wanted to but couldn’t accomplish before. She brought discipline and her planning skills to my life. All of the things I’m proud that I’ve accomplished recently are credited to her helping me get better at the things I’m not naturally good at.
Tips For Completing a Personal Challenge
Here are the 3 suggested components to help you take on any personal challenge:
- Motivation: What’s your reason for taking on a challenge? What do you want to learn/change? Do you want to get healthier? Do want to travel and know that speaking another language would make the experience better? Do you want to save money? Whatever the reason, make sure it’s something that you value, something that is really important to you. This is your “why” and if it’s not strong enough, it won’t give you the energy you need to succeed. This is your starting ignition and fuel for whatever you take on.
- A Plan: In your plan you need to set your goal, timeline, and tasks. All of these things should be realistic given the typical constraints of time, relationships, and resources. Do what you know you can do. Think about what tools you’ll need to help you. How best do you learn something? Do you need assistance from others? What are the barriers and obstacles that will tempt you to quit, and what strategies will help you avoid or overcome them? All of this should be part of your plan. It should be well researched and coordinated using whatever tools and resources at your disposal (remember if this is important to you, do whatever you can to make it happen). Not great at making plans (like me)? Find online resources or ask someone good at planning for help.
- Discipline: I think of a couple of things here: First, try not to get distracted. Focus on your goal. Remember your motivation and goals for wanting to undertake something like this in the first place. Finally, if for some reason you miss a task, break a streak, forget to do something, got distracted – KEEP GOING! Don’t stop! Don’t ever give up. Whatever it takes, finish what you started.
Once you’ve completed a challenge you teach yourself that change is possible. You learn new skills, what worked, and what didn’t work from that experience and it helps you take on new challenges.
So What Am I Working on Now: Estoy Estudiando Español
So I’ve started to learn Spanish (with Michelle’s help of course) and thanks to Benny, I’ve set-up some realistic goals regarding Spanish:
- I want to be able to introduce myself and talk a little bit about myself so people can get to know me and my personality
- to comfortably converse with someone on how to get where I need to go
- to be able to order in a restaurant or purchase things from markets
- to be able to ask questions about life, cooking, and other things I’m interested in
Michelle created an awesome calendar for me with daily tasks. Using a combination of tools* such as Rosetta Stone, Duo Lingo, YouTube, Podcasts etc… I do about half-an-hour of studying/practice per day. I can’t say I’m the best at being disciplined, but I do them most days.
We have an online test for me to take in about a month, but the real motivation is to have some comfortability in conversational Spanish because we are going to South America in January.
*more information about tools to help you learn Spanish can be found here.
Will I succeed? We’ll see. At least I think I’m on the right path and have a good system going.
What would you like to learn, do, or take on in your life? What’s preventing you from doing those things? If you’ve completed a challenge or major life goal, what tips do you have for succeeding?
Let us know in the comments below.