How to focus on the goal.

Chances are, you are reading this because you have decided to learn Latin, or maybe Greek.

Write the goal down.  Clear, written goals force you to focus.  Clear, written goals keep you on track. 

Do this now!  Set a goal. 

Be sure that your goal is specific.

Wanting to learn Latin, is a goal.  It is not, however, specific enough.

Deciding that you will be able to read Latin within one to two years is specific.  You might write something like:

Two years from today, by my 19th birthday, I will be able to read in Latin.  That is a specific, measurable goal.

But wait… Why one to two years?

Simple.  In all my years of teaching, I have watched Latin students plod through Latin.  It may take seven or eight years.  This is too long.  They grow weary.  They get bored.  They quit.  It will happen to you, too.

The finish line is so far off in the distant future, you feel you will never make it. 

If you take too long, you will despair. You will be tempted to quit. 

It should take no more than two years for you to learn Latin grammar.  After that, you will simply learn new words. 

Take the next two years, dedicate an hour, or two a day to the study of Latin.  In two years, you will have learned the complicated Latin grammar. 

You should be able to read the Bible in Latin, the Vulgate, in two years.   

Now that you have a specific, measurable goal, you have to ask yourself…

What exactly will this look like every day?

Do you know how to eat an elephant?  Relax.  It’s just a figure of speech.  I don’t eat elephants.  If I were to eat one, however, there is only one way I would do it… one bite at a time.

Your goal is an elephant. 

You must break your large goal into smaller goals. 

To learn Latin in two years, you must dedicate an hour or two, each day, to study.

Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule?  The rule states that 20% of your effort generates 80% of your results.  In other words, we dedicate most of our time to low value tasks.  These tasks keep us from our important work.  What are these tasks?  They vary for everyone.  I don’t know what yours are, but I can share mine. 

Low value tasks, for me, include:

Email

Driving

Phone Calls

Watching Television

Funny animal videos on YouTube

Surfing the Internet

Standing in line

Sitting in traffic

Facebook

Twitter

It is easy for me to start the day with one, or any of these low value tasks.  If I am not careful, these tasks fill most (80%) of my day.  Some of them, like email, and driving, are unavoidable.  If possible, though, I push them off to the end of the day. 

I once read somewhere that we should spend the first 20% of our day focused on our most important task.  We should focus on the one thing that will make the greatest impact in our lives. 

If we divide an 8 hour school or workday by the 80/20 rule, we end up with the following: 

8 hours x 60 minutes = 480 minutes. 

480 minutes x 20% (.20) = 96 minutes.

Using these numbers, you now know what to do.  You should spend the first 96 minutes of your day working on your most important goal.  96 minutes is a bit more than an hour and a half. 

If you are serious about learning another language (in this case, Latin), you should spend the first hour and a half of each day doing several things.  You should:

Listen to Latin audio recordings

Read in Latin

Study Latin grammar

Study Latin vocabulary

Write in Latin

Speak in Latin

Spend the first 96 minutes of your day doing this, or something like this, and two years from now… you will speak Latin.