It’s not going how I have planned


So, remember my last post, about how I plan to learn multiple languages at the same time? I was wanting to learn Italian, Estonian and Portuguese at the same time, and I am not saying that it is not possible, but after nearly a month, I have to confess, it’s only Italian and sporadically a bit of Estonian that I was able to learn. I have not had enough time to actually learn everything I had decided to do and that’s fine. I have not been able to commit fully because of work. When I was having days off, I was attempting to recover the days in which I did not learn, but I have only been able to achieve Italian tasks. Being such a perfectionist, of course, it upset me that I was not able to obtain what I set myself up to. However, this obstacle gave me more insight into mindfulness and into being more mindful about my daily activities, including learning. So, I had set myself to stick with Italian as it seems to be more interesting for me right now and every now and then, I go through basics to adapt to Estonian, which is my second passion.

Being mindful of one’s time and possibility to achieve one’s goals is a constant habit for me right now and understanding how to become more aware of the little successes is something that will motivate you to keep going with your tasks. Or, at least this is what I am experiencing. So, how is this Italian learning going then?

You can follow me on Instagram @ilearn.foreign to see what I am up to and learn with me, if you fancy it.

I have decided to stick with Italian for the moment and to give myself small goals to achieve them and get motivated further to carry on and take on more as I learn more. I have realised that the 1 minute learning rule transformed itself into 5 minutes and eventually into 30-40 minutes almost daily learning which at the end of the day is far better than learning 3 hours a week for a couple of weeks and then stopping all together because the outcomes are not as high as expected. I have started with Language Drops app for Italian and soon after seeing results, which was in around 5 days, I decided to get more into my daily Italian routine. I had started following CoffeeBreakItalian podcast and found that lots of the words discussed or phrases were already covered by either Drops or the course of Learning Italian on or by information and educational insights posted by Giulia on instagram or things I was listening to from Lucrezia from her Youtube channel. Everything kind of coalesced into this “it makes sense” puzzle that kept me motivated, inspired to progress with my newly formed routine.

I have learned that the most important aspect in learning something and not just a foreign language is your personal interest in the subject and immersion in it by following multiple diverse platforms, and in my case it’s Drops, Learning Italian with Lucrezia, Coffee Break Italian, Giulia on instagram and Italian learning course. They do not need to be all done in the same day, and I do not have time for this daily right now, but I do commit to at least 2 of those 5 out of 7 days and that’s small, but baby steps get you ahead. It’s important to continue and not give up. When you learn less but constant, your motivation is higher than if you learn more but occasionally. I remember 7-8 years ago when I started learning Portuguese that I was constant for a month but learning a couple of times a week and after 2 months or so, my motivation dropped because I was not seeing the improvement I was seeking, as I had set myself higher goals than possible to be achieved for that specific time-slot.

Be SMART about your learning habits and your learning outcomes. When trying to be specific, don’t assume you will have that much time to put for that subject daily, assume less for higher results. When you want to measure your learning, measure it by the least amount of time spent and focus on setting up measurable learning results by doing something pleasurable, find a specific activity to help you with your learning, as I discovered mine which is through podcasts and one or 2 instagram accounts that post about Italian learning and post regularly words or grammar or educational resources. It’s more fun and when learning is fun, learning occurs faster and with better results than if it was in a different more conventional or traditional setting. If you do all these 2, from the above, you have already covered the actionable goal of SMART, because everything that is specific and that measurable as mentioned from my examples, it is going to be easy to be put into practice, easily actionable and therefore results will appear, and the more results you have, the more input you give and the circle continues positively. You see, even by covering the first 2 aspects, you are going to cover the rest of the characteristics of the goals, and you can see from my last phrase, which was explaining the result orientated part actually of the goal, because when you know exactly what you want to achieve – Italian basics, words, phrases and grammar to communicate, but I knew I am ok to start small and work myself up;- and that is very specific, and when you know what you have to do to actually get to that specificity – measurable = how am I planning to get that level of Italian – you will automatically gain perspective into actions needed, the results you will see for those actions and the time it will take you to get the actions done. And that’s because the planning was fundamental, the SM of the SMART goals. Or at least, that’s how I interpret it.

I would conclude to that SMART goals that setting up a measurable actionable plan to become or be able to do something in a specific way will inevitably give you the idea of the time you need to put in, in a mindful way. Be kind to yourself, do not try to be perfect, rather try to adjust the need for learning into your daily life. I can listen to the podcast when I leave work and I can also do a little bit more when at home or before bed or incorporate instagram Italian educational posts while at work, in this way having the whole day with constant Italian surrounding me without even realising it. It may be 1-5 minutes now and then throughout the day, but that adds up and I speak from experience that it does work, far better than having a schedule that you set yourself up to as a MUST DO LIST, which is extrinsic and far from benefiting you on the long term. Perseverance with small tasks gives you willingness to continue, doing this, you gain momentum and achieve results, that, even if they are minor, they give you a sense of accomplishment and motivation to do more. 5 minutes a day transform in time into 1h and that won’t even feel like a MUST DO. It will be such a normality that learning that subject you have set yourself up to, will be known to you faster than you imagine.

Persevere with the small things. They make up the big things. Or something like that. Big things are made up of small things. Those small things , if they are mastered, you will excel at the big thing too. Constant learning.

I was absent quite a while on my blog and writing is not coming as easy to me as it used to. So, if I am repeating myself or it sounds as if I have no more vocabulary in English it’s probably because #polyglotproblems – no, joking; it is probably because I need to read more in English and practice more writing. Which I am passionate to do these days. 🙂

Baby steps and you will grow without even realising it.

I was reading fairly recently about the 7 effective habits of creative people and I would like to share those with you as I believe learning a subject is a creative expression of oneself and these habits are actually something I intuitively have worked on throughout the last 4 weeks or so since I had started this Italian journey. I know you are familiar probably with the 7 effective habits of highly successful people. And they may very well be similar. I want to pinpoint them in this post, because being creative may sometimes require structure, such as in a brainstorming activity, but it also sparks from chaos sometimes, and in my opinion, learning a language has to be done in a creative way because it stimulates the brain. As we all know by now, the brain loves everything that’s new, so the more novelty you bring to your learning experiences, the highly probably you are to actually achieve the desired outcome of the learning. So, here are 7 effective habits of creative people. And remember, if you are creative in your daily life, you will by default apply that to your learning or new to be formed habits:

daily work – I have explained my point of view here, constant work, even if small tasks, they will be bricks that will build your expertise

volume, not perfectionism – Do not focus to do everything perfect, to go through all podcasts, all lessons online, all words to be known perfectly in ‘x’ amount of days, to memorise grammar pretty soon, to do it “by the book”, because that equals perfectionism. You are not letting yourself the freedom to have fun and to make mistakes and learn from that. You set yourself up for “no mistakes” learning mission in the hopes that your learning results will be perfect. But volume is more important than that, and by volume we refer here to different types of exposure to the learning subject, in my case Italian – so, music, Youtube channels, blogs, Instagram accounts, free lessons online, even Pinterest is a great tool – which will immerse you in the culture, language and habit of having Italian daily and a lot of it , even if you consume only a tiny bit. That still counts. It’s called passive learning.

steal from other artists/people you admire/people that can teach you the language. In my case, I have set myself up with an Instagram account to track my learning. I had shared few things I had learned and will continue to do so, to not only focus me on keeping up with my Italian digital journal/diary but to also inspire others and in that way, I actually discovered more people sharing Italian language tips, skill learning. It is inspirational. When we are flooded with inspiration and entertainment, the form becomes full, becomes a shape. When we have something we are expecting to receive, we give in the time and energy. When you know your favourite Youtuber is posting every Saturday at a given time, you expect content to come and you actually check if you have not received a notification. That is interest. You need to make yourself interested in the subject you want to learn to continue learning. And you do that, by stealing from inspiring people. Because a lot of the time, we actually follow certain online people, because they inspire us, they give something for us to think or entertain us, but at the same time, we find out new things. So, surround yourself with inspiring “artists” in your field of interest.

conscious learning – this means that when you are doing the Instagram feed with content from inspiring people in your field of study, you actually take the time to digest that content. You repeat the information, if it’s language learning as in my case, you read through the caption. You pay your full attention to that post. You do not need to follow 50 instagram people that post about your subject. You need to follow a new that actually are your idols in that field. That actually make a difference and feed your appetite for what you want to achieve. You are a conscious learner when you are in the present and you think about that specific thing only, in that given time, whether it’s 5 minutes or 20. You focus on what you are seeing, hearing and reading.

rest and relaxation – another effective habit of highly creative people is rest. Make time to rest. This ties well with the other habits because if you are conscious about what you learn, when you build that habit of being focused on one task at a time, you are actually expanding that skill to being able to focus on any given activity only. No multitasking. When you rest, you rest. When you work, you work. When you play, you play. Do not multitask between them, something like, I will listen to the podcast while I work on an excel spreadsheet at work. Don’t. You also need rest to assimilate what you have learned. You need rest to be able to have a rested head the next day when you need to learn something new. When you rest, you give time and space to your mind to be creative. To think of solutions to help YOU learn better. And I don’t know if you knew this, but when you feel confused when you are learning something new or multiple things at a time, your brain is actually trying to assimilate all that you are feeding him. So, give him rest and he will be able to process it accordingly for you, to assist you when you most need it. Trust the relaxation. Overload never works and feeling burned out is definitely not going to help with learning. You know that. So get plenty of rest. It’s just like in muscle training. You need to rest to let it grow. The muscle grows not when you train or eat, but when you sleep and relax and are rested. It’s the same with your brain.

feedback – ask for it and give it – in terms of creativity and expressing one’s art, it’s clear, you ask for opinions when you have created something. Applying this habit in learning a skill or a language, translates into as an example speak to yourself in Italian, comment on other people’s post relating language learning in Italian, applying your language and asking for feedback from the people that inspire you and post in Italian. When you are learning a new skill, you ask for feedback on your knowledge up until that moment in time, by asking relevant questions connected to something you need clarity on. You obtain feedback by speaking with colleagues or other students like yourself. Ask for their input referring your learning results so far. What do they think? What do they advise? Communicate using the skill you have learned, using concepts from the skill you have recently acquired.

the last effective habit of creative people of the 7, is Create what you love. This is connected to direct feedback in my opinion, the 6th effective habit, because when you ask for feedback, a lot of the times, you also want to get feedback on what you have learned so far, not just on a task finished. When you create what you love, you create something you are interested in. I am interested in language learning and therefore, I had created an Instagram account for it to inspire others, to create along side others, I am writing on this blog, I get myself into activities connected to what I study and I create myself. When you also do something related to your learning, and not just learn about it, you create from it, your learning experience gets a boost. You are able to help others with your personal struggles or your personal obstacles. Also, when you are learning something new, you have a different perspective to specific topics that usually are covered in a different way from experts that may have come to a point that they have forgotten how they struggled to understand something of which you are learning. Create what you love. Do more of what you love. And if that subject really is interesting to you and you are passionate about learning, you are passionate about sharing it to the world. That passion will keep you persevering, will keep you motivated, inspired and when obstacles do come your way, you will know how to overcome them because you want to and you can read more about this here , and not because you must do.

And, having all these 7 habits in mind and in practice, you will see learning is a piece of cake. It’s fun and it’s enjoyable. It’s meaningful. Inspiring and you need to have a positive mindset and a growth mindset to excel in your chosen skill. I think, that’s how you do it.

Report back in the comments how YOU plan your learning and if you have failed, how did you get back on track?