One Easy Trick To Instantly Motivate Yourself to Study English

By Jennifer Forrest, August 16, 2018

Yesterday I emailed my friend Harm and told her that I learned how to play the song “Count on Me” by Bruno Mars on the Ukulele. I told her I would play it for her when we hang out in 3 days.

The thing is, I can’t actually play this song right now. 

So, did I just lie to my friend? Why would I do that? 

I’m going to see her in 3 days and I know she’s going to ask me about the song.  That means I have 3 days to learn how to play this song. And learn it well enough to feel confident playing it out loud to another person. 

I’m sure you can relate to this. It’s a very nerve racking experience to perform in public, whether it’s giving a presentation, playing a song, acting in a play, or just ordering a cup of coffee in your second language.

Playing this song for my friend is very different than playing it alone in my living room without anyone around. 

By announcing to Harm that I can play this song, I just motivated myself to learn how to play it in only 3 days.

I set a goal, I gave myself a timeline, and I created accountability by announcing this goal to another person. 

Tonight, when I consider turning on the TV to watch another rerun of Friends that I’ve already seen 10 times, I’ll remember my deadline. I’ll remember that in 3 days if I can’t play this song I’ll have to admit to Harm that I don’t know it.

Having this deadline is going to motivate me to put the remote down and pick the Ukulele up. 

And the thing is, I love playing the Ukulele. It brings me a lot of enjoyment and I find it very relaxing. But at the end of a long day the temptation to just be lazy and not do anything is really strong.

However, when I have a goal to work towards, a goal with a timeline, and a goal that I know someone else is going to ask me about, the temptation to be lazy disappears.

Announcing your goals to another person is one of the quickest ways to motivate yourself. When your goal is just in your head, or even on a piece of paper, the consequences of not meeting that goal are relatively low. You might feel a little disappointment, but you’ll probably create some excuse like “it was a really busy month” to justify why you didn’t meet your goal.  

However, when you announce that goal to another person, you know that person is going to ask you about your goal. And it’s a lot harder to let someone else down than it is to let ourselves down.

Before you start announcing your goals to random strangers, there’s something very important you need to keep in mind. You need to make sure your goal is SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely).

The song I chose to play isn’t very difficult given my current level. Also, the next three days I know I have at least 1-hour to devote to learning and practicing this song. I know it won’t take me more than 3 hours to learn. Plus I really like the song, so I’ll enjoy the process of learning it. For these reasons, this goal is a SMART goal.

It wouldn’t be very motivating if I announced that I’m going to play Beethoven’s Sonata 29 Op. 106 in 3 days. If you didn’t know, that’s considered the most difficult Beethoven song to play. This would be a very frustrating experience, because learning this song in 3 days isn’t realistic. I would be putting a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself, and basically setting myself up for failure. 

Right now think about one of your SMART goals. And think about who you can announce it to.

Announcing it online won’t provide a lot of motivation because the person you announce it to likely it’s going to follow up and asking you how it’s going.

You need to choose someone that you know will ask you about your goal. Perhaps that’s your partner, friend, colleague, neighbour, or boss.

Could you imagine how motivating it would be to announce something to your boss? Certainly you wouldn’t want to let your boss down and have to admit that you didn’t meet your goal.

That’s the purpose though. To create this sense of motivation and urgency to start working on your goal. 

Now, I really need to get back to learning this song because I only have 2 more days to go! But I guarantee you, when I see Harm in 2 days, I’ll definitely play this song.

And then, I’m going to create a new goal!

Otherwise the temptation to watch reruns of Friends would come right back.

Jennifer Forrest

I help busy professionals speak English confidently so they can take their careers (and their lives) to the next level! You can get started right now by downloading your free speaking guide on how to speak English fluently and confidently in 6 easy steps.