Topic: Are you stuck in the preparation phase?
Today I’m talking about something I’m guilty of doing over and over again, especially when I’m starting a new project. I think, I plan, I consider planning, I think a bit more, I do research, I think, I plan again, and I don’t DO anything.
Fortunately, now I see this when it happens, and being aware of it has helped me to move faster from thinking to actually doing.
Are you thinking about learning?
So, I’m here today to ask you: are you thinking about learning? Thinking about resources and methods? Thinking about hacks, tips and tricks? Thinking about how good you’ll be when you’re fluent? Thinking about why you’re not progressing faster? Thinking about planning? Thinking about which Portuguese book to read? Thinking about which podcast to listen to?
If you are, stop thinking and start doing!
Because thinking and planning won’t get you anywhere. I’m not saying these things aren’t necessary, but you need to check yourself for too much thinking and zero action. If you don’t sit down, and focus and do the actual work, trust me, your Portuguese is going nowhere.
Do you feel like you have been working a lot?
And the funny thing is, you spend so much time thinking about working, that it feels as if you’re doing the work. It feels as if you’re taking action.
Imagine this dialogue:
Hi, how’s your Portuguese going?
Oh, I’ve been learning for years! But I’m not seeing the results. This is so frustrating.
Really? How many hours have you dedicated to studying?
Well, I don’t know. But I’m sure it must have been hundreds! This has been on my mind all the time! Fluency is just not happening for me…
Are you familiar with this dialogue? I’m going to suggest to you, that you have been doing more thinking than studying.
Our minds exaggerate the time we spent doing something.
It will seem like a lot more than it actually was. You’ve been simulating things in your mind, and your mind has been accepting them as real experiences. So your mind is letting you off the hook with the idea that stuff has been done. But nothing has been done!
You are under the illusion that it has been done, and you wonder why you’re not moving forward. You’re stuck, and as a consequence, you start to feel tired and frustrated.
How to start taking action
Here’s a recommendation.
Get a calendar, an app, a piece of paper, it doesn’t matter what, and write down all your focused study sessions; when they happened, how long they took and what you did.
Not when you thought about learning or surfed the internet looking for resources, or you planned your study sessions.
Write down every time you sat down to do “the work”: when you listened to an audio file and answered questions; when you did grammar drills; when you read a text and created sentences with new vocabulary; when you had speaking practice with a tutor - you get the idea.
In my case, for example, I’m writing a book. When I started, I planned, and I researched and I plotted and I outlined. Nothing wrong with this, but the book wasn’t going to write itself. And after a few months, I realized I had written 500 words. It was easy to see I hadn’t been writing, because if the words weren’t on the paper, then I was not writing! I couldn’t tell exactly how long it had taken me to write that, but it couldn’t have been more than an hour!
Since then, I keep a calendar where I take note of when and how long I write, and how many words come out of each writing session. This gives me a clear idea if I’m making progress or if it’s a matter of delusion where I believe I’m moving forward when I’m actually procrastinating.
If at some point you feel you’re not progressing as you think you should, take a look at your calendar.
I won’t be surprised if you discover that you only sat down to do the work one and a half hours in the last six months. If that’s the case, you know what you need to do.
You need to take action! Understand that action is what moves you one step closer to your goal. Being in your head is not action.
You need to start doing the work now. Decide what action you can do today to bring you closer to your destination, and do it!