Recently I talked about commitment. I said it was the most important advice I have to give. The topic sparked some unexpected interest and discussion, and it's got me to thinking... I said commitment was the most important thing, but I never really said how to become committed.
The truth is, I'm not completely sure how a person becomes committed to something. But I do have a theory!
I believe commitment comes with what you attach to your identity — how you perceive yourself, and how you want others to perceive you.
For example, wanting to be good at something “to get the girls” is a common motivational trick. So is hoping to learn something because it will make your resume better. But these things often fall apart when the rubber meets the road.
When you introduce yourself, you don’t say, “Hi, my name is Anna and I have a great resume." You don't say, "I'm John and I like to get the girls.” Those things aren’t part of your identity. But they could be, if you wanted them to be. In fact, if you started introducing yourself in that way, you'd probably find a lot more success than you might believe!
For spouses and parents, this kind of commitment by identity comes naturally. Husbands repeatedly find themselves saying, “Hi, I’m John, this is my wife Anna, and these are my kids annajohn and johnanna.” The more times you say that, the stronger that commitment becomes. (And the more comfortable you get with those awful names.)
When I introduce myself, I really do tell people that I am “the yearlyglot.” Why not? Naturally they ask what that is, and I get to tell them about my web site and explain that I learn a new language every year. Learning a language is, in fact, a part of my identity. It is a vital part of how I see myself and how I want others to know me. And that creates a commitment.
So what are you telling yourself? What are you telling others? What is the identity that you're wearing? Are you "trying to learn"? Do you "lack the talent for languages?" Are you "too busy?" Who are you? And who do you want to be?
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.