I recently spent a rainy Sydney weekend reminiscing and reviewing photos from my previous trips to Israel. Whenever I chat to my Israeli family, I'm always amazed at how perfectly they've mastered their English. All of my cousins can speak it perfectly and I can barely ask for water in Hebrew (that's "mayim, bevakeshah" for those testing me).
Inspired by my cousins, I decided before our 2019 trip back to Israel that I would challenge myself to learn Hebrew and surprise my family. I wanted to show my family that I appreciated the effort they put into learning English which has enabled our amazing friendships.
My first effort to learn Hebrew lasted about two weeks.
So did my second effort. And third. And fourth. Each time I tried, my learning habit fell by the wayside at that painful two week mark. Clearly, I wasn’t that inspired to take on Hebrew. Even worse, with each failed attempt to build my new language learning habit, I could feel my anxiety rising.
Often, the more excited we get about a new goal, the less likely we are to do some introspection as to why the new goal is important to us.
When we’re temporarily blinded by excitement, we’re often setting goals that aren’t meaningful enough for us. Even worse, we might have identified a meaningful goal yet we haven’t investigated where this meaning comes from.
Either way, we’re unlikely to have the fuel to power us through the pain, in terms of habits, to reach our goal.
As a few examples, The goal of getting fit is exciting, however, to get there, you have to go through the pain of sticking with an exercise habit. Being fully present with our kids is deeply meaningful, but, it also means you have to experience the pain of diligent mindfulness practice.
And yes, surprising a family member with your Hebrew skills means that you have to experience the frustration that comes with learning a new language.
The truth is that my goal to learn Hebrew didn’t mean enough to me.
I wasn’t willing to go through the struggle of learning Hebrew when deep down I knew I didn't need to. As a proud lifelong learner, that’s saying something.
My goal didn’t have enough pain or gain involved. Nothing was on the line for me. I lost nothing for not learning Hebrew. Since all my family in Israel speak English, it wasn't going to impact on our relationships or the way we communicate.
The biggest downside of failing was that I wasn’t able to surprise my cousins with my newly found language skills, however, since they weren't aware of me learning Hebrew in the first place, I wasn’t on the hook to learn it. I had no accountability to reach my goal.
Reaching a new goal is more than just setting an exciting goal and choosing the habits to support it.
New habits have to contribute towards a goal you actually want to reach. Not just a “nice to have” goal. A goal which would make a significant improvement in your life.
Letting the initial excitement to settle is the key here, if only for a moment. With a clearer mind, you have the time and space to weigh in on the importance of the new goal. You can then either discard it as a “nice to have” or choose to pursue it by creating the right enabling habits.
Just doing that will save you a lot of unnecessary guilt and anxiety.
In the next few posts, I’ll take you through how to create new habits that last and help you break the ones that no longer serve who you want to become.
Have a winning day!