Do you have any bad habits?
I certainly have my fair share.
A quick pop into Instagram to share a new post becomes 15 minutes of scrolling. Notifications pop up and I let them distract me then forget the original task I was on.
Time sucks abound.
So what if I told you this year you can start quitting those bad habits and finally achieve your language learning goals?
Sound too good to be true?
I recently did this with working out and had so much success I began putting into practice with other areas of my life – like learning languages – and the benefits paid dividends in my learning.
How to Quit Bad Habits
Our bad habits can be tough to quit.
And that’s because their triggers are strong.
What are those triggers?
Stress, fatigue and boredom.
We turn to unhealthy habits when we’re stressed and when we’re bored or too tired.
And sometimes there’s something even deeper that not only encourages us to form bad habits and turn away from good habits. Such as limiting beliefs.
If you believe you can’t learn a language, you block yourself from forming a language learning habit because… how motivating is it to sit down and study if you don’t feel like it’s leading to anything.
So how do you turn things around?
First, think about what benefits your bad habits are giving you. They might be:
- Stress relief
- Keeping you from FOMO
- Fulfilling cravings
- Giving you a much-needed break
Once you determine what needs your bad habits are fulfilling, you can start to brainstorm good habits that might meet those needs instead.
For example, if you spend too much time on social media because you worry you’ll miss out on exciting news, or because you love seeing photos of delicious foods, find a way to meet that same need in another way.
You could switch your social media into your target language, or follow accounts that post in your target language about the things that interest you. That way, you can still spend time on social media, but get language practice because you’re doing it in that language.
We have bad habits because they fulfill needs that we have, so rather than cutting them out entirely, think of ways you can swap them for better habits that meet those same needs.
How to Make a Habit Out of Language Learning
If you aren’t able to find a substitute for your bad habits, you might prefer to cut them outright. So, if you need ideas as to how to fill your new-found time and make a habit out of language learning, here are a few ideas.
Bind it to Time
One of the easiest ways to start building a new habit with languages is by making it time-bound. For example, aim to do just five minutes a day. Our favorite tool to do this with is Drops.
Or you could do ten minutes. Set a timer and wherever you’re at in your studies when the timer goes off, make a note so you know where you left off and save it for the next day.
Doing an entire chapter or going through all the words that need review in your flashcards can be overwhelming enough you just don’t even start. I’ve been there.
I know sometimes when I need to work out, I skip out on working out if I can’t fit the whole routine in because I only have 15 minutes and not an hour.
But really, it would be better if I used those 15 minutes rather than skip entirely.
I’d be better off if I used that 15 minutes than I would be if I did nothing at all.
By setting a time and committing to it each day, you know you’re making consistent progress towards completing an entire chapter or towards catching up on your vocabulary review.
If you skip days because you don’t have enough time to do the chapter or overdue flashcard review in its entirety, how far behind you are just keeps building. By doing what you can consistently, you keep what you need to do from becoming overwhelming and even more impossible-seeming to start.
Bind it to Activities
If you don’t have a predictable amount of time you can count on each day, you could instead aim to bind your new habit to a specific activity. Wondering how this might look?
Here are a few examples:
- Whenever you get into the car, listen to a podcast in your language. Your language learning is bound to you being in the car.
- Whenever you wash dishes, place your phone in front of you and watch your favorite tv show in the language. Your language learning is bound to washing dishes.
- Whenever you watch tv, study your flashcards during the commercial breaks. Your language learning is bound to your tv watching.
- Whenever you work out, listen to music in your target language. Your language is bound to your exercise.
The Key to Sticking with Your Habits
The final key to sticking to your habits is having support.
When you share your goals and what you’re trying to accomplish in forming new habits, you get support and accountability.
And when you pair up with someone who’s trying to do something similar, your efforts are amplified.
You get to be accountable together and celebrate your victories together, too!
If you want more practical ideas about how you can break bad habits, form good language learning habits, and stick with it, check out Language Conqueror. Our February Quest is all about habits and will show you how you can make changes in your learning.