It’s already June, but it feels like the year just started. Since we’re almost at the halfway mark of this year, I thought it would be a good time to look back and review.
What goals did you make for this year? Are you doing something everyday to make them happen? If you didn’t make any goals, don’t wait to the end of the year. Make some goals today.
If you’re listening to this now, improving your English listening and speaking is probably one of your goals. How are you doing? Are you making progress? If you’re not learning as fast as you want, don’t feel bad about it. That won’t help anything. The year isn’t over yet, so let’s think about how you can do better.
People always tell us, they want to learn English fast. If you want to learn anything fast, everyone knows you need to do it regularly. And of course, learning English is the same way.
The problem is, that life doesn’t stop and wait for us to complete our goals. School, work, friends, family and never ending emails are always filling up our days. And when we do have free time, the internet and TV gives us a never ending supply of entertainment.
So how do you make time for your goals? How do you make time to improve your English every day? Is it just a matter of will power? Shawn Achor says no. He thinks, you don’t need to try harder; you need to make it easier to try.
Achor is a Harvard professor who researches the psychology of happiness. He also studies will power and how to complete goals. In his book, The Happiness Advantage, he talks about activation energy. Activation energy is the effort you need to start practicing every day.
Achor uses an example from his own life to talk about activation energy. He wanted to learn to play the guitar, but he just wasn’t doing it. The guitar sat unused until one day, he bought a guitar stand, and put it in his living room next to his TV. Everyday, when he came home, he sat down on his couch, saw the guitar and started to practice.
The simple act of putting the guitar in a place where he would see it regularly, made it easier for him to start practicing every day. He didn’t need to think about practicing. He didn’t need to waste energy to decide when to practice. He saw it and he did it.
Reducing your activation energy, is an easy way to increase the time you spend practicing a skill and decrease the effort it takes to get started everyday. Let’s look at another example. If you want to make exercise a part of your day every morning, you might put your running shoes and exercise clothes on top of your alarm clock. When you wake up, your shoes will be the first thing you see and will remind you to start your day with some exercise.
Anything you can do to make starting practice more automatic will make goal completion easier. If your goal is to improve your English, you might set your homepage to your favorite English learning website, so the first thing you see when you start your computer, reminds you to practice English. Or you might put your mp3 player next to your keys, so every time you leave the house, you’re reminded to listen to your English lessons as you drive to work or take the bus to school.
How can you reduce activation energy and make English practice a more regular part of your day? Tell us your ideas in the comments. There’s still more than half of 2012 left to become a more powerful English speaker, so start thinking of ways to make English practice easier on yourself.
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