I can’t believe it’s already September!
I hope you relaxed and managed to switch off during your summer break.
Since you’ve come back, has it been hard for you to get back into the swing of things? (i.e. get back to your usual routine)
I find that in September, two things can happen: either we come back from vacation feeling full of energy and raring to go or we get struck by a sort of “September sadness”, a lethargic “I wish I was back on holiday” feeling. We feel like we lack motivation, inspiration and time.
And what happens if you feel the same about your English? How can you get back on track?
Simple. You need to focus more on the process of learning English and less on your big goals.
Don’t get me wrong, big goals are important to have. I set them with my clients because they give us direction. But when we’re constantly goal-driven, staring ahead at the horizon, we feel like we’ll only be happy once we get there.
So we rush and race through the process, just going through the motions, totally missing the journey that leads us to that single moment in the future. The moment that we can only create now.
Have you ever noticed that the areas where you’ve had the best results are usually the ones in which you’ve learned to enjoy the process?
That’s because when you love to do something, you don’t want it to end. You want to keep on doing it, feeling fully immersed and in the flow.
Like being at a great summer party with friends. Watching an exciting episode of Game of Thrones. Lounging by the pool with an enthralling book. (These are all my examples of course, you will have your own!). Imagine if you could feel the same way about your English journey.
For example, instead of anxiously focusing on all the things you think you have to do to speak more fluently, imagine if you just focused more on loving the process of communicating/connecting with others (I can help you with this).
Wouldn’t you automatically speak more and enjoy it at the same time?
So let me give you a few “process-focused” tips:
- Be mindful:
- Stop focusing on the end result and turn back to see how far you’ve come. Compare your English now to what it was before you started your learning journey. When we start focusing on our progress, we’re motivated to practice more often and the better we get, the more we enjoy it. (And the more we enjoy it, the better we get!).
- Stop putting off practicing your English until tomorrow. Start with what you have now. Communicate your message. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You might think you’re mediocre but if you wait for perfection, you’ll never start. Build on moving forward, day after day. It’s a win-win situation.
- Stress, anxiety, frustration all come from too much thinking. Realize that your negative thoughts are creating your feelings. And you don’t have to think like that. Your English journey is what it is. It’s a neutral thing. If you’re unhappy with it, it’s because you’ve made up a story about it: maybe you’re telling yourself that it’s too hard or too long to get to where you want to be. These thoughts are flexible and replaceable. What if English felt comfortable and enjoyable? What would that look like? What would be a first step towards that?
- Be meaningful.
- Stop doing things you don’t like in English! Connect with it like a new friend. Welcome it into your daily life. Think about how you can combine your learning AND your hobbies. For example, maybe you love jogging and reading about leadership and potential. You could: listen to an audiobook or podcast on that topic during your morning jog; journal about what you’ve learned; regularly review your notes; summarise the book aloud to yourself as if you were explaining it to a friend. By doing these activities, you’ll combine the 4 skills of listening, writing, reading and speaking, all on a topic you’re interested in and which is relevant and useful to you. In short, you’ll retain what you learn better as you’re more engaged – that’s how the brain works.
- Be minimal.
- Make it easy to start. Stop any feelings of overwhelm by “reverse engineering” your big goal down to the smallest step that you can do now.
- Stay simple, specific, and sincere. Get out of your head and into the present moment. Focus on the speaker in front of you. Really listen to them, don’t be thinking about your next sentence or the best time to interrupt. Smile. Be curious. Connect.
- Fall in love with your time and stop giving it away to non-essential activities that mean nothing to you. Delete your main distractions and “time thieves”. Practice saying “no” so that you have more time for you and what is important.
You can do it! And if you want a coach to support you on your journey and help you enjoy the process, you know where I am.