Setting Goals: Why take on this task?

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As of yesterday, I had my calendar set for what I want to accomplish by month (January through June), and my weekly and daily goals for January.  Yet I was uninterested in doing them.  This calendar, I realized, was a disappointment waiting to happen.

Last evening, I was writing some advice about learning languages, and I spent a good amount of time on the various reasons why one would want to learn a  language.  There are so many good ones, and I surely only came up with a small portion of them.  I suggested that these reasons be kept handy, for when one hits a roadblock along the way, one can pull out these great, inspiring reasons.

I, however, had not laid out my reasons for learning Farsi.  As a result, I hit a roadblock: uninteresting, uninspiring goals.  So I had to take a step back and refer to my own advice.  Here are the reasons I came up with, in the order they came to mind (though more are coming to mind even now–maybe I’ll bring them in later):

  • Talk to a Persian about my language and travel history, and hear and understand theirs;
  • Be able to get the gist of a Persian newspaper article;
  • Gain insight into events in Iran;
  • Test my ability to motivate myself and to develop and use concrete goals;
  • Test the power of blog community to help me reach my language goals;
  • Convey my love of learning languages;
  • Connect with Persians in my home town and/or start a group to do so;
  • Learn 600 words;
  • Work through Pimsleur IA (and IB if it’s good), for a total of 14 lessons;
  • Work through How to Speak, Read and Write Persian, for a total of 20 lessons;
  • Connect with speakers on Livemocha.

I want to be sure I meet my goals.  I realized, though, that some of these goals are easily measured and others are not.  So I divided them up accordingly:


  • Work through Pimsleur
  • Work through How to Speak . . .
  • Learn 600 words
  • Test my ability to motivate myself, and develop and use concrete goals


  • Talk to Persians
  • Get the gist of a newspaper article
  • Connect with Persians in my home town
  • Connect with people on Livemocha


  • Gain insight into events in Iran
  • Test the power of blog community to help me reach my language goals
  • Convey my love of learning languages

Now I know what to look out for in writing up a schedule.  I need to include some goals from each category because some of the less measurable reasons are the most meaningful to me.  I can get excited about talking to Persians and conveying my love of languages, but less so about learning vocabulary.  I need to consider whether I’ve achieved my goals in the context of each category, because the category dictates what a success consists of.

I’ve rewritten my calendar now, and I am more excited about it.  More excitement now indicates to me a higher likelihood that I’ll stick to my plan–and my language.

2 thoughts on “Setting Goals: Why take on this task?

  1. Alex L.

    Hi Rich,

    I like your idea of using a blog to keep yourself motivated and clear about your goals. This post also helps me see a method for overcoming the major obstacle of losing interest in one’s goals–when many a New Years Resolution get speared to death (at least mine). Figuring in the “unmeasurable” but important goals into your monthly plans (as you did later) would seem to help overcome loss of interest. Good luck (or, as my high school chemistry teacher used to say as an alternative: “Good knowledge!”).


  2. Pingback: What I learned about language-learning: 2012 « Loving Language

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