“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
Creating and sustaining motivation is one of the biggest challenges in language learning. And the single most powerful way I know to get and stay motivated is having a big, chewy, powerful “why” for learning the language―a driving purpose that keeps you putting one foot in front of the other no matter how steep the trail may get. Flimsy feelings like “It would kinda be cool to speak a foreign language” or “maybe this language will be useful in my career someday” won’t cut it. Why? Because when the going gets tough, you’ll quit. You won’t have the psychological fuel to keep going. To succeed in language learning, your “why” has to be:
Like Friedrich Nietzsche put it, you can bear almost any how if you have a strong enough why. Victor Frankl had this realization when he was interned in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Despite the most horrid circumstances imaginable, he saw that those with a strong enough reason to carry on outlived those who couldn’t find meaning in their suffering. Obviously there is a big difference between maintaining the will to live and simply maintaining the will to learn a language, but the same basic principles apply in both domains. He or she with a strong enough “why” will:
- Find the time to study their target language no matter how busy their schedule.
- Find the money to buy resources no matter how tight their budget.
- Find the courage to practice communicating with native speakers.
So what is your deep, burning, emotionally charged reason to learn your target language? Share it in the comments below. I’d also encourage you to write this on an index card, and place it somewhere prominent where you’ll see it each day. This will keep your “why” top of mind and help you keep going when the going gets tough.