To reach new objectives we certainly must change our thinking patterns, so that we can obtain different results from the ones that have led us nowhere. Our brain usually plays against us. It is proven that it resists changes. Change is seen as a danger that we ought to neutralise. Therefore, our brain always tends to pull us back to our comfortable zone: the tried and tested zone, that most of the time leads us to ineffective outcomes.

If you want change, you should start by doing things you’ve never done before.

When setting your Language goals, visualise first the end-result.

I talked in a previous article about the SMART framework of goal-setting. It helps clarify your ideas and desires and allows you to prioritise your actions. When you write your goals down you're able to check them off as you complete them; this boosts your confidence that you will get to the end and that you have what it takes to fulfil your dream: COURAGE.

When you’re setting your language goals, start by visualising your end result and plan from there. This method is called backward planning.

Backward goal-setting, also called backward design, starts with your end-goal and then works backward to develop your plan. You identify clearly your goal and then you choose the actions that are likely to help you to arrive efficiently to their completion.

Equally, this method is preparing you for success and allows you to identify the different steps necessary to succeed. It highlights where you must be bolder to achieve the desired results. It also gives you the timing points along the way so that you can keep on track.

This process is used by educators to design learning strategies and experiences for their students. When starting with the end-goal, the teachers can build a sequence of lessons, problems, projects, presentation and assessments that allow the students to reach the academic standard expected. They usually plan in three stages:

Stage 1

Identify the desired results

What will the students know, understand and be able to do?

Stage 2

Determine acceptable evidence

How will the students know that they reached the goal?

Stage 3

Plan learning experiences and instruction

What should the teacher do in the classroom environment to prepare the students for the assessment.

Identify Every Step you need to execute to succeed in your language journey

You can mimic this structure not only to plan your lessons but also to clarify your objectives in a broader way. Here is how.

Step 1

Write down your end-goal.

What specifically do you want to achieve and by what date?


By July 2019 I want to be able to speak Italian fluently, because it’s the date that I am moving to the country.

Step 2

Ask yourself what milestones you need to accomplish before that.

What do you have to do and by when to reach your ultimate goal?


By June 2019 I must succeed at my C1 final exam.

Step 3

Then work backward some more.

What do you need to complete before that goal?

Example: I must study Italian 3 hours a week.

Step 4

Work backward again

What do you need to do to make sure the previous goal is reached?

Example: I must book a course at the university.

Step 5

Continue to work backward in the same way.

Example: I must ask my boss to finish earlier 3 times a week.

Step 6

Carry on until you identify the very first milestone that you need to execute.

Mapping your goals through a backward planning process has its advantages. First, you’re forced to see things from a different point of view and you’re most likely to become aware of possible hurdles along the way that you might have missed if you set your goals in a chronological order. It also allows you to discover where you need to put a bit more effort to help you reach the next step.

You are mindful of the work and dedication required to achieve success.

Backward planning tells you when you need to start and gives you a time-frame in each step-in order to get things done on schedule and allows for adjustments to reach completion.

If you have set yourself a goal to learn a language and didn’t achieve it in the past and felt frustrated when you failed to accomplish your dreams, backward planning might as well be what you were waiting for.

Have you tried backward planning yet, if not will you give it a go?

Please do live a comment.

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