A Big New Goal

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– by Matt Leedham

Last night my brother and I were driving to Yechon in Annandale to have dinner with my wife’s cousins, who have quickly adopted me as one of their own (shout out to the Chungs, the Kimms, the Paes and Mr. Park!). My brother looked at me and said, “so, have you ever thought about learning Korean?”

I really wished he hadn’t asked that. The truth is, yes I have thought about it. And yes, it’s on my 101 list (similar to a bucket list but without the morbid reference). Until that moment, I had successfully tucked the goal of learning Korean deep down into oblivion. I want to learn Korean, but the thought of what it would take to do so makes me quickly focus on other goals in my life.

But it’s time to walk the walk on this one. I can’t honestly write, coach, and teach about achieving difficult goals if I’m not going to get out there and practice what I preach. In fact, just two days ago, I wrote about The Biggest Loser and how the successful competitors are able to shift the context to something bigger than themselves. They are able to focus on “the why” of the goal – the real reason you are committed to something.

So here we go…

(A Big New Goal)

The Goal: Be conversational in Korean by October 1, 2011. Conversational = Ability to greet, chit chat, order food, and ask/understand/answer basic questions.

The Why: 1) It would mean a great deal to me and my wife if I were able to converse more freely with her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. 2) It would mean a great deal to me and my wife to be able to raise our future children in a bi-lingual household. 3) Learning Korean would allow me to achieve something I have doubted I could achieve for many years. 4) We are planning a 3-week trip to Korea with my in-laws in October 2011, which would be a great capstone to a year of learning the language.

Material Obstacles: 1) Time. Let’s be honest – I’m going to need a lot of it. But just like anything else, you make time for what’s important. 2) Money. Language software, text books, and courses are not cheap.

Emotional Obstacles: “I’m not good at learning languages.” I studied Spanish for years in high school and college, and am okay on vocabulary and basic conversational stuff, but never really picked up proper grammar (which is very similar to English, so I’m not sure what that says about me…). Negative self-talk will not help, but I’m going to need some cheerleaders in my corner to make it through this.

Resources: My resources seem endless on support – I’ve got at least 10 family members that will help me along. I’ve got a wife that will happily talk to me in Korean as much as I want (and endlessly watch Korean movies and dramas with me should that be helpful). However, resources in language instruction seem limited. I do have an old text book that was given to me by an owner of a language center in DC. I’ll have to reach out to my network on this.

Network: My network is fairly extensive, but not among language instructors. From what I can gather from 6 years of knowing my father-in-law, the Korean community stays well connected. Whatever I ask of him (e.g. a handyman, a mechanic, a doctor, a hot air balloon driver in Alaska), he always seems to “have a guy.” He always knows someone with that specific expertise. So, perhaps I just need to reach out.

That’s it. I’m doing it. I’ve said it.

Can you help me?


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