Building up gradually

I often see that when starting a new project, such as learning a language, we often commit ourselves to studying of a certain amount of time every day or every week – it might be an hour a day or at least 10 hours a week, for example. There’s nothing wrong with this, and if you’re very self-disciplined and consistent you can sustain it. However, it can be difficult to stick to such plans if you’re somewhat lacking in self-discipline, especially if your plans are ambitious.

I don’t usually announce my language learning plans publicly. I might mention that I’m concentrating on a particular language, but I don’t give exact details of how long and how often I study, as this tends to vary a lot. I might start out with the intention of studying for an hour a day, but rarely stick to it for any length of time Usually after a week or two my regular study times become short and/or more sporadic and I might start another project – learning another language or a new instrument, or something completely different.

To acquire a new habit, such as studying a language every day, it might be best to build up to it gradually. So instead studying for an hour a day from the start, maybe it would be better to do 5 or 10 minutes, and if you can keep that up for a week or two, then increase it to 15 or 20 minutes. By building it up gradually like this you ease gently into the new habit, which might make it more sustainable.

Do you jump straight into new projects? Can you maintain your enthusiasm for them, or do you tend to burn out or loose steam after a certain time? Have you tried building up to them gradually?

One thought on “Building up gradually

  1. Completely agree about building up new habits! I want to start running more but I knew that if I went straight into huge runs every day/other day/week, I wouldn’t be able to keep it up! Now I’m aiming to do an achievable distance (and more importantly: time!) every day/every other day and look forward to building upon this. Good advice, Simon! 🙂

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