A few weeks ago my fellow blogger Catrin wrote about setting mini-goals. Setting manageable mini-goals is much more fun than frustrating yourself with bigger goals that totally seem out of reach. Many mini-goals will help you eventually reach your bigger goal, sometimes almost without noticing it. As an old Chinese proverb says: “The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”.
I have picked up these words of wisdom last year while walking the Camino de Santiago. Before I started, walking almost 500 kilometres seemed like trying to square the circle. Once I hit the road, I soon realized that it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. It doesn’t matter how slow you are, as long as you don’t stop. When I finally reached my goal, I didn’t feel like I had done something exceptional. Reaching Santiago was just a logical result of an insane amount of walking hours.
When I moved to Denmark, learning Danish was a daily struggle. I often wondered if I would ever learn to pronounce the unpronounceable sounds in such a way that people would actually understand what I meant to say. Now, when others compliment me with my Danish, I am almost surprised. Of course I speak Danish, I have lived here for four years! Speaking Danish well– four years ago considered an unreachable goal –is something I now take for granted. Things that may seem out of reach in the beginning, often turn out not to be that impossible to achieve after all.
Another thing I realized after walking my Camino, is that it was not about the goal (reaching Santiago), but about the path leading to it (the adventure, the journey). When I walked into Santiago, an unexpected feeling of disappointment came over me. I had thought that reaching my final destination, my goal, would trigger a feeling of joy, absolute joy. Instead, I almost felt disillusioned. All I really wanted was more adventure, more journey!
Learning a language is an ongoing process. It’s an everlasting journey, with a destination that you will never reach. No matter how well you speak a language, there will always be new words, expressions or grammatical structures to learn. And that’s just perfect. Often the journey itself is anyway much more rewarding than the destination turns out to be when you finally reach it. As Confucius said: “Roads were made for journeys, not destinations”.For most of us the Danish Language Road can be somewhat rugged and bumpy at times. But if you manage to look past the frustrations and the struggles and celebrate your victories when reaching your own personal mini-goals, it can be a fascinating and rewarding road. And while you’re on it, you might as well enjoy it 🙂