There’s a theory about setting and reaching goals that says to not only set your goal, but make it quantifiable and also chart out the path you’ll need to take to reach the goal. As I lay in bed this morning thinking about the day ahead, I realized I have not charted a path for this month’s “someday” of learning Italian and I’m struggling to make any progress.
In November my “someday” was to write and publish a short non-fiction book. I didn’t reach my goal, but it’s still in progress and, now that I think of it, I realize I didn’t have a charted plan for how to reach it – not even so much as “write for an hour a day”. December my “someday” was to establish a meditation practice. That in itself is a plan. To establish the practice, you have to meditate – and I did (and still do). On January 1st I began a 1200-mile walking/running challenge. I calculated I would need to run/walk four miles per day, six days per week in order to reach 1200 miles by the end of the year. I set up a spreadsheet to input my miles and to calculate how far ahead or behind I am (right now I’m 20 miles ahead of plan). That’s a completely quantifiable plan. Then I came to February and my “someday” is to “learn Italian”. Really? Learn Italian? Obviously I’m not going to become fluent in a month, so what is my real goal for the month? I didn’t set one! I didn’t set a quantifiable goal and I didn’t set out a plan for how I would achieve my loosey goosey goal.
I had hoped I could “learn Italian” by listening to audiobooks during my many hours in the car. That didn’t work, so I bought a book and some grammar aids, but I still didn’t set a plan of when and how I would use them (they’ve been sitting on the counter, untouched, for a week). Now, here I am, right about halfway through the month and I realize I messed this up. I need an actual goal and a plan.
So, here we go. My goal for learning Italian will be to be able to count to ten and carry on a simple “get to know you” conversation. My plan to get there will be to set a time period for studying Italian. I’m a morning person, so I do my other practices first thing in the morning: writing, meditating, walking/running. Once I’m up and taking care of business during the day, it’s hard to stop. However, just before I go to bed, I spend time browsing social media and playing Sudoku. I can give up that routine and allocate the time to studying Italian and, research shows, sleep helps cement what you’ve learned right before bedtime. I’m going to get my Italian book off the counter and put it on my nightstand right now. I will now study Italian for at least a half-hour every weeknight. And, who knows, not using an iPad before bed might help me sleep better. Retain Italian and sleep better – this could be a double win.