Flexible Goal Setting Can Keep You Driven Through Difficult Learning Patches

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Flexible Goal Setting Can Keep You Driven Through Difficult Learning Patches

A paradox we all experience is that sometimes life just gets in the way of living.

Think about a time in your life when things got intense. Maybe you just moved house… and there’s a big new client at work… and your best friend’s birthday is in a couple of days. Every day seems just a bit too full and every thought is genuinely important.

What happens to the non-vital tasks and responsibilities? They get put to the way side, postponed until we can catch our breath!

That could include things that are still important but not urgent in this particular moment.

Language learning does fit into this category… it’s not the end of the world if your learning slows down, you can always pick it back up again. Whereas if you lose your job it could have major consequences for your life and wellbeing! (Even though this article is focused on language learning, the ideas still apply to any other parts of your life!)

So, what do you do when circumstances like these arise?

There are two key aspects that you need to address:

1)      How to readjust your goals when things get difficult

2)      How to return to the previous good habits once things settle down

The first thing to remember is that these taxing times are only temporary. You’ve experienced them before and you got through them fine… you’re still here, right?!

The amount of additional time we need to resolve the situation is often exaggerated in our imagination and we sometimes “switch off” our minds from too many of our other personal goals, as a reactive or defensive mechanism.

That’s why I used the term “readjust”… you don’t want to go from 80km/h to zero straight away! You can try adjusting your learning speed down to 20km/h. So instead of spending 3 hours a week on your German language studies, simply lower it to 30 minutes a week.

This readjustment of your goals is very important for your return to normal practice too. By continuing at a reduced rate, your system doesn’t experience such a shock when it returns to action.

It’s very similar to our body’s reaction to exercise: if you suddenly stop your regular workouts, your muscles will seize up and it will be harder to restart without risking injury.

Even when athletes get injured, they never do absolutely nothing. They still stretch, they will exercise the parts of their body that aren’t hurt, and they still work on their mental game.

You can copy their example: if you don’t have time this week for an hour long session, keep yourself active by spending 10 minutes on Duolingo, or listening to a Swiss language podcast.

The important thing is not to let your mental muscles cool down too much. Keep active, even if it’s just a few minutes a day.

As a client of UNUmondo, you would receive weekly digital coaching to support your learning... so even if you miss an occasional session, you can keep flexing your language brain!