I'd just finished my first year of university, studying jazz piano at a fancy music school in London. I had decided to take a year off from formal study. (I had this crazy idea that I’d just practice piano for the whole year and become the best in the world!)
But my girlfriend of 2 years had other ideas…
She decided… that we should split up.
It killed me.
Heck, I was 19… I didn’t know how to deal with things like that. It felt like my world was caving in.
My plan of practising piano for a year was suddenly finished… I couldn't face sitting in a room for hours on end, practising on my own…
So I started to look for things to take my mind off the pain.
I got a job in a café in central London, just making coffee all day long.
It wasn't the greatest job in the world. BUT…
The people I worked with were amazing: Italians, Swedes, Spanish, French…
I quickly started to realise that there was a big, wide world out there, very different from my middle-class English upbringing.
I learnt little things… like when a Spanish person orders a coffee, they want an espresso, not an americano.
But I also learnt bigger things… like the fact that the people I worked with in that café really missed home…
Even better food…
And so I started to think: “What must it be like to grow up in places with all those cool things – things that we don't have much of in the UK?”
Before long, that question had become… “What if I could pick up some Spanish words? Or study Spanish for free whilst I work?”
Now, can you see where this is going?
Motivation Starts With Passion
This was my spark.
What started off as a terrible event, actually gave me the opportunity to meet all these amazing people, and develop an intense passion for discovering more about them and their countries.
And so I started learning languages.
But I had no idea how. I couldn't speak more than a couple of words of any!
And yet, now I speak eight foreign languages.
So what made the difference?
[Tweet “Motivation doesn't usually just appear from nowhere. It comes from one place: passion.”]
I'm telling you this story because, whatever your background, whatever your level of experience, whether you think you have a talent for languages or not… so what?
None of that matters.
We've All Been There
What makes you so special that, language learning is so much more difficult for you than anyone else?
Here’s the truth: we've all been there.
We've all started from zero, staring up at a mountain that looks so insanely high that we think we’ll never reach the top, and felt the motivation slip away.
But, guess what?
If you can foster a passion for the language you’re learning, if you can make it so important to you that it becomes your single defining purpose, if you can get clear on what it will mean to you to one day wake up and know that you’re fluent in the language…
…let me tell you – there is nothing that will stop you reaching that goal.
But it starts with motivation. And motivation starts with passion.
What Does It Mean To You?
I recently asked the following question in my Fluency Mastermind Facebook group (it's free to join, by the way!) and got some really interesting responses, so I'm asking you right now.
Close your eyes. You wake up, and you realise the hard work's paid off. You're now fluent in that language you've been working on for so long. Words roll off your tongue, you understand what everyone's saying. You belong. How does it feel? What does it mean to you to have achieved this?
If you can get this clear for you, it has the power to transform your whole language learning journey.
So what does it mean to you? Let me know in a comment below right now.