Motivation is defined in the dictionary as a reason or reasons for acting in a particular way. It is the desire to do things, a strong willingness to accomplish something.

But in fact, what is motivation?

It is our mind using its power to propel us to take certain actions. Our psyche is telling us that action is the best option.

Imagine you’re abroad and meet a girl you’re truly fond of and you want to keep in touch, it is easier to start a conversation with her in the foreign language you don’t master yet, than to live with the regret of not asking her for her phone number. This is motivation. It is easier to act than to face the consequences of your inaction.

A clear example is my daughter and the way she handles homework. This might have been given to her two weeks in advance, but she procrastinates and the day before the homework is due she spends time doing it, sometimes costing her less hours of sleep. It would have been more painful for her to avoid doing the work and face the consequence of punishment than a few hours without sleep; therefore, the late motivation.

How can we start the ball rolling?

People tend to think that you get motivated first and this is the driving force that helps you take action. Yes, this happens occasionally, but, it’s the other way around. When you start doing, motivation follows.

You’re interested in learning Japanese, you’ve been thinking about it for a while, but nothing has been done to help you fulfil this wish. But if you book a course, or buy a book, set a specific time for your studies, you will see that very soon you will be motivated to carry on. You should start somewhere. When the ball is in motion, it will carry on rolling.

So, when you’re procrastinating, just tell yourself: “I will only do a five-minute study”. Five minutes go by very quickly and you will notice that once you’ve started you will get hooked and carry on for more.

“Motivation is the result of action, not the cause of it” (James Clear). Start and the rest will take care of itself.

Ways to overcome Procrastination

  • Create a routine
  • Get rid of the time wasters
  • Make the most of your study time

I have downloaded an APP called HABITIFY. You can set time and date for your reminders. Every weekday at 9 pm it prompts that it is time for my language study. I stop whatever I was doing, and for the next 15 minutes I do a language activity. At that time, I’m always at my desk with a cup of tea. What I’m trying to say is this. The more you stage it and repeat it, the easier the activity will become a habit. With time you will require less motivation, because your behavioural pattern will be more automated.

The more the distractions, the more you will need motivation to accomplish your task. Reduce the activities in your life that aren’t productive and are holding you back like the time spent on social media, or watching TV, or playing video games. You will see that automatically your productivity will grow, and so your degree of achievement and happiness.

Study what is truly relevant to you. For example, if you’re going on a business trip, study business vocabulary. Sometimes you must laser- focus your attention to specific parts of your study so that you can get the maximum results.

How to Stay Motivated?

Face manageable tasks.

You should face manageable tasks. For example, if you’re doing a listening comprehension exercise, don’t choose one which is too easy, because you’ll get bored quickly, nor one which is so complicated that you hardly understand anything. You will be disappointed and give up. I always recommend choosing an audio where you understand 80% of what is said. Not too hard, not too easy, but just right. This is called The Goldilocks rule and you guessed why.

Scientific studies have shown that when we choose the tasks which are “just right” our level of happiness increases, and we maintain our motivation.

Measure your progress

You should be able to measure your progress.Belonging to language groups where you can find support and ways to practice the language you’re learning is an excellent option as well as having language buddies with whom you can practice the new vocabulary and grammar structures you’ve just learned. Receiving feedback from them is paramount.

Your motivation will maintain when documenting your progress.


There will be a time where, even with all the measures stated in this article, that you will feel like quitting; but remember that you’re in charge. Just one more step and one more day might be enough to keep you on track and prevent you from giving up.