“A goal without deadline is dead”. Chris Farmer.
There is a great deal of truth in this quote.
You may say “. I want to study Japanese”. Although it is well intentioned if there is no answer to “by when” it might stay as a simple wish for longer that you would have wanted because there is no sense of urgency, in simple words no deadline.
You have now set your strategic language goals using the SMARTER goal system:
Specific. You should identify exactly what it is you want to do.
Measurable. This will allow you to establish markers and milestones to keep you focused and on track to accomplishing your goal.
Actionable. You should use an action verb when you write your goal down. This will prompt you into action every time you review it.
Risky. Your goals should stretch you and cause you to rise to the challenge to accomplish them. Don’t set easy goals that play it too safe and keep you from growing.
Timebound. You must include a deadline, frequency, or time-trigger in every goal you write.
Exciting. Find a way to connect your goal to what is personally motivating to you. It should be compelling.
Relevant. Each goal should be relevant to your season of life, your values, and your other goals.
So, why should you assign deadlines to your language learning goals?
They help you focus.
Deadlines are important if you want to see these come to fruition. They are what will help you achieve success by helping you to move closer to your goals. They bring focus and commitment to your projects and make them more tangible. Note the difference between “I want to study Romanian” and “by the 31st of December I want to be able to pass my level A1 exam in Romanian”. The second example is more intentional and reflects real commitment and focus.
Set small deadlines to all your tasks related to your outcome goal (big goal) and these will be the milestones toward successfully accomplishing it.
Until you specify what you want to do and by when, everything is just a wish.
They make your goals more real.
With a deadline, your subconscious mind will help you go through hurdles and obstacles, constantly searching and finding different alternatives to accomplishing your goal so that you can hit the deadline. You will be able to sort through different options and resources faster.
They make you more committed.
When setting a deadline, you go from wishful thinking to effectively planning how to get what you want. You establish a commitment to yourself and highlighting how important succeeding is to you. You are sending a message to your brain that you are in charge and that nothing will stop you. You have a good idea of the effort required and that you are ready to make progress toward accomplishing your goal.
They must be reasonable.
Obviously, before establishing a deadline, you must do your research.
Thinking that you will reach a C2 (upper intermediate) level in Arabic in one year starting from scratch is highly improbable no matter the hours you invest in this project every day. You would surely end up exhausted and ready to throw your language learning out of the window.
Your deadline should always be considered achievable. Thus, you will avoid unnecessary stress linked to failing to reach the target.
They must be precise.
You should establish a clear timeline. The more precise you are at establishing your deadline, the better.
Example: “I want to be able to have a simple conversation with a German native speaker by the end of June.”
Remember that your brain cannot process confusing information. So, if your deadline is noticeably clear, the more motivated you will be, and the more likely you will succeed at reaching your goal.
They help you prioritise.
If your goal is “to be able to have a simple conversation with a German native speaker”, you will prioritise learning day to day conversation topics instead of studying medical words in German. You will have to say no to what is not relevant.
So, you are forced to organise your tasks so that they align with your objective and get you closer to reach your goal.
You always win.
You become more confident when you are consistently hitting deadlines. But even when you miss them you still win because by focusing your energy in working towards your goal, you still achieve more. You learn much more than you would have if you were working without a deadline. You always have the option of resetting the deadline. With the experience you have acquired knowing exactly how long it takes to accomplish the tasks, your prediction will be more accurate this time allowing you, then, to accomplish your goal eventually.
Deadlines should give you purpose, excite inspire and motivate you. They are an effective tool in helping you reach your goal and most importantly, they create remarkable change in you.
“Every project comes alive when you hit the deadline switch”.
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