When I started this blog, just a little more than a year ago, I was just one of several newbie bloggers who were excited about language-learning and starting language blogs at around the same time. Today, I'm still far from reaching my blogging goals, but my blog is relatively popular, and relatively successful, whereas several of those others have faded into obscurity.
What's the difference? I don't think I'm any smarter than anyone else, and I'm sure some of those other bloggers knew more about language learning that I do. So why is my blog succeeding?
And when I say I'm going to learn a language fluently in one year, I'm not the first person to think they could do that. In fact, last year, when I set out to learn Italian fluently, several people I knew also had decided to learn a language in 2010 — most of them did not succeed. So why did I succeed at learning a language fluently in one year, when others have failed?
The answer isn't something I learned in school. It's not any kind of genetic advantage. It's not something I was born with, and it has nothing to do with how I was raised. In fact, the answer is something I learned in a gym.
When I go to the gym and work out every day, it's easy to keep doing that — momentum is easy to work with. It becomes a pattern, a habit. I know my routine every morning, and I follow it. Piece of cake.
But momentum doesn't last. One week you're sick, or one month your traveling, or one morning you hurt your knee and you can't lift again for two weeks. And after a few days, the momentum is lost and the patterns change. After a week the new pattern takes hold. After two weeks, you're committed to a new lifestyle. Suddenly, getting back into the gym is a lot to ask!
And worse, when you've got a time commitment, like accomplishing something in one year, or training in time for a particular event, there is a tendency to give up completely once you hit that first roadblock. After two weeks not running, you give up on that marathon. After three weeks not writing, you give up on that blog. After a month of not learning anything, you give up completely on learning that language.
But where other people get comfortable in their newly formed habits, and allow their new, unproductive momentum to take over, successful people remain committed to the stated goal. They get back to their language study, their blog, their gym. We see the same crowds every year on January first, but by April all that's left is a small group of people who are committed to the task.
The key is commitment. Successful people aren't counting on consistency or momentum. They aren't using at tricks, or NLP, or motivational language to get in to the gym and work out. They aren't using a hack learned on a web site to stay motivated in language study.
That's the secret in life. People talk about consistency a lot, but consistency is just momentum. Life isn't consistent. Surprises come up. Whether it's exercising every morning, or cooking dinner every night, or learning to speak a new language, you can't get by on excitement and momentum. You need commitment.
When you're committed to the task, giving up is not an option. Failure is not an option. Writing it all off is not an option. If you're committed to the task, the only thing that matters is moving forward from where you are at right now.
Successful people succeed because they have a commitment to the task. That's it.
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.