Lots of people want to learn a foreign language, but the desire often gets buried by distractions and procrastination. We think to ourselves, “I will start learning Japanese once I finish this busy project at work.” This is just like the promise many of us make to “start eating well after the holidays” or to “start giving to charity when we can afford it.” We feel a little better in the moment by outsourcing responsibility and sacrifice to the future, but when that future comes, the procrastinated action rarely comes with it. We finish that busy project at work, and fill our new-found free time mindlessly scrolling through Instagram instead of opening the Fluent Forever app. The holidays come and go, and we find our mouth full of pizza and beer instead of veggies and salmon. We get a bonus at work, but let lifestyle inflation use up the surplus instead of sending a check to Give Well. No, the future does not hold any magical power to make your dreams come true. But the now does—if you are willing to prioritize and take action. If you really want to learn a language, don’t wait for “the right time.” The right time is now o’clock. Even if you just listen to 1 minute of a language podcast or do a single lesson in Duolingo, begin today. And then add a little more tomorrow. And a little more the next day. Before you know it, the power of marginal gains will add up to a decent level of fluency. But to get there, you have to start. And you can’t start in the future, only the now.
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