Have you ever found yourself working on yourself and your goals day in and day out when you say to yourself one day of rest won’t hurt. However, you realize that the one day turned into two, then three days rest, then nearly a week has gone by?
Well, this is the week that I have had. This month’s challenge is not off to a good start.
I am supposed to be spending five to ten minutes a day practicing German. That’s it. Purely small manageable chunks because those are supposed to be the best daily moments to build a stronger habit or ability. (See James Clear’s article on the Two-Minute Rule, here)
This seems easy enough, but I have seriously struggled in these first seven days.
Let me explain.
I chose to practice German this month specifically because I should have the free-time to do it. My schedule generally has me spending a great deal of time planning, teaching, and grading for three to four months, followed by roughly two to three months of much more flexible working time. I have done this for years now, so I am used to it for the most part.
I have also thought that all that I have learned through my reading and experience, maintaining only five to ten minutes a day of practice should be a no-brainer.
In short, I have failed this week.
Even after two months of success, I have failed because the days I have not practiced German outweigh the days that I have.
I think my attention is a bit stretched this month when it really should be the opposite.
I have even been considering adding the Duolingo app back to my phone. Ugh.
Personally, Duolingo is fine in my opinion to begin learning a language, but I find that specifically for German, the Deutsche Welle Learn German app/website is far superior for advanced beginners. I find it much less frustrating, clearer, and way more practical than Duolingo.
It is my go-to language program on the go.
However, I have not opened it this week, not once.
Working on being kind to myself
Failure is okay. What can I learn from it?
In spite of this general fail, I keep working on being kind to myself about it because I do have two months of other successes under my belt and excellent things both personally and professionally in the works for the future.
I have attempted to repeatedly ask myself this week if the activity I was working on needed to be done exactly in that moment or if the activity needed to be done in general considering what my goals for the month are – to practice German daily, to prepare for teaching in April, to slowly work through an online course, and to love my family and self.
I am so excited about this online course that it is difficult to not obsess about it. I think this might be where I am going astray. I want to do well in this course, but am afraid I am spending too much time in it where I could be focusing my attention better elsewhere when the tasks are completed – the extra work is not wholly necessary.
So, let’s flip the script here. I am done with my pitty party and don’t want to whine about this anymore.
What is working?
Talking with people.
It may not be perfect, in fact I know it is just barely working if at all. However, I had my hair cut yesterday and had to try my best to tell the stylist what I wanted and then have some small talk while she was cutting my hair. I need to do more of this talking and stumbling with other people.
I have to.
I have also written a few instant messages or emails in German this week. Again upon checking my work, it was incredibly rough, but the basics were there.
What I have done two to three times this week is listen to my Deutsche Welle Langsam Gesprochene Nachrichten (Slow German News) podcast. I listen to this after my regular news podcast because they share nearly the same information, important news developments in the last 24 hours. I listen to the English version first for context as I am that much more likely to understand unknown words in context this way.
This podcast is really geared toward B2/C1, or upper intermediate to near native, but the nice thing about the podcast is that I can slow the speed down even more than the rate it is recorded in if it is more difficult for me. As it stands, most daily episodes are under ten minutes in length and each recording comes with transcripts that you can follow along with as you listen. I am usually amazed at how much I understand.
My week ahead
I have had trouble sleeping this week as I am not wholly used to a new schedule based on an online course I started recently. I have been trying to read when I cannot get to sleep, but I think I will work to replace this with my Learn German app (I will need headphones though).
I will also continue to listen to the German news podcast to practice listening skills.
This next week we have to meet with my son’s teacher, in German. We have asked to meet with her in person and not over the phone so our opportunity to understand should be greatly improved.
The good thing about hitting bottom here is that I can either stay here or move on up.
Let’s hope for the latter.
See you next week.