Every year we make the same promise to ourselves, that this year will be the one we finally learn Spanish.
This initial motivation often carries us for a few weeks, but as the daily grind wears us down and our motivation falters, our daily Spanish practice is the first to go.
Having motivation is great, and that first spurt we feel is a fantastic tool for really kick-starting our language-learning. But we cannot rely on it to carry us all the way to our language-learning goals; it just will not last that long.
That's the bad news. The good news is that as you begin to learn and make progress, you will be rewarded will little jolts of energy in the form of motivation from getting noticeably better at Spanish.
Anyone who is used to setting and accomplishing larger goals knows these feelings. They learn to recognize and appreciate them when they occur, but to not be fooled by them; they are temporary, and the real progress to be made is through setting up a system designed for success, not waiting around for motivation to strike, or the muse to visit, or whatever else you choose to call it.
What does a language-learning system look like? How do I set one up?
The cornerstone of this system is the learning habits you develop. Fortunately, habits are pretty well-studied. They take the following form:
There are a few things we can learn from this setup.
The most important thing for habit success is properly setting up the cues. The most surefire way to do this is to use what I call "anchor-points" throughout your day. These form the basis of a string of successful habits.
The most reliable cues are waking up and eating, as you generally will never skip these. Others may include your morning coffee or getting ready for bed.
You may use lunchtime as your cue. Finishing lunch can be your cue to spend 5 minutes with Maestro Spanish. This cue will always come, so you can rely on it as the anchor for your new habit.
When you get better at this, you can string habits along the anchor. For example, finishing Maestro Spanish can be the cue for your next habit, such as reviewing your Anki deck.
For larger activities, such as conversation practice, you may aside a time, like an hour after dinner on Tuesdays, as the cue for this activity.
Mentally you should have no choice in the matter; it should just be the thing you do.
If you learn to enjoy the process, you will find you don't need the typical motivation to accomplish your goals. There can be quite a bit of satisfaction in knowing that you have set up a successful system, and that with it in place, your Spanish success is practically guaranteed!