It was a sunny day of summer, the sky was blue, Lake Chelan’s (Washington State) water was a little cold, and the boat’s engine sounded like a lion that was getting ready to devour its prey.
I was not entirely sure about what I was doing, but I was already in the water and according to my friend’s instruction I was supposed to “not let go of the handle” and try to stay vertical until the board came out to the surface. I was about to try wake boarding for the first time and the instructions I was supposed to follow were not as clear as I wish they had been.
First try, the boat starts moving and I hold the handle as hard as I can while the bottom half of my body feels stuck. I felt like being pulled out of quicksand by a sports car without moving more than an inch during the process. After a few seconds the pressure on my fingers became too much and I let the handle go.
The first attempt was not fun and my forearms were starting to hurt. The second attempt was a similar story, after a few seconds I had to let the handle go again. I was doing something wrong, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Then, my friend yelled at me: “just hold tight and keep the board steady until it comes out of the water.” It felt like insufficient information at the time, and 14 unsuccessful attempts later, my exhausted hands and forearms were evidence that I should have asked more questions before getting wet.
The whole thing seemed so difficult, and I ended up feeling frustrated and little disappointed.
In retrospect, the whole thing was my fault. If I didn’t feel like I understood the instructions I was given well enough, I should have paused after a few attempts to get feedback and ask questions instead of forging through in a relentless and hopeless pursuit of exhaustion. A recipe for disaster and very sore arms.
It is a similar thing with Languages…
That’s how learning a new language can feel at times. Although persistence is valuable, it can become stubbornness if it is used to follow a bad plan.
It is because of things like these that learning Spanish is often seen as a boring and difficult thing.
As I experienced that day when I tried wake boarding without having a good plan, following a difficult method usually makes things seem difficult.
Generally, when things seem difficult we get bored and lose motivation and when something seems difficult and boring, the process becomes frustrating and we often develop negative mental associations that make things seem even more boring and difficult than they really are.
This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle that leads to temporary failure, which may become permanent if changes are not made.
To avoid this negative process it is important that you select a method that is effective and interesting. In order to do this, we need to prioritize what we choose to study based on usefulness, follow methods that facilitate persistence and find study materials we consider to be interesting.
I did learn One Water Sport that day…
Not everything was frustrating that day at Lake Chelan (Washington State) since I eventually did get to master a discipline that was easier than wake boarding. I am talking about riding a big round inflatable “doughnut” that gets to be dragged at full speed across the lake (aka “tubing”.)
The instructions I got for this were more precise according to the requirements of the task at hand. My friend said “just hold on tight and don’t fall down” that was all I needed to know to have a great time.
So, just as it happened with my day at the lake, choosing a simple plan that is useful, fun and interesting can make a big difference on how you feel about the process.
It is the same with Spanish. If instead of following a difficult, boring and uninteresting plan, you choose to keep things simple, useful and interesting, the way you feel about learning Spanish will change instantly.
It’s all in your head and you have the power to transform the way learning Spanish feels by changing how you feel while you learn Spanish. You can make you Spanish learning process more fun starting today. Learn how to do it over here: How to Make Learning Spanish Easy and Fun
What about you?
Tell me about one time when your perception about something made things seem more difficult than they really were.
What happened? Please share it in the comments section so we can all learn together.