In the last few posts I have been talking a lot about starting new things and being successful at them. I discussed how important it is to limit your focus so you can spend more time at each thing you attempt. Something that is just as important, is to clearly understand your purpose and goals with whatever activity your try.
This idea may seem may seem a little weird at first. You are starting something because it looks fun or maybe because it will help your career right? Those are certainly good reasons to start something new. Unfortunately, they are too vague to push you up the steep learning curve of starting something you have never done before.
I believe there are really two distinct points you should consider when starting something new.
Motivation: Why are you pursuing this activity? What’s driving you to learn? The stronger and more clear your reason(s), the more likely you will be to to get over the learning curve and enjoy the benefits of the activity.
What is your goal: What level of mastery do you plan to get in this new activity. The better you understand this, the easier it is to plan out your method of learning and know how much work is ahead of you.
Saying, “I want to learn Spanish” gives you a basic understanding of some of the activities and studying you will need to do. However, it doesn’t set a goal line. Saying, “I want to learn conversational Spanish” gives you a idea of the amount of words you will need to know and also what those words might be. It also let’s you know where your goal line is. You have learned enough Spanish once you can communicate comfortably in basic Spanish conversations.
As you can see, the larger your goal, the stronger your motivation will need to be. Should your goal be to learn to speak fluently in Spanish, you would need to spend a lot more time learning.
Clearly understanding the amount of work it will take to learn something isn’t designed to stop you from trying something new, but it should help you choose and achieve the things that matter most to you.