Hey there! This is TOP episode 88: Give Yourself A Break! Top 4 Strategies

My name’s Ola and I am an English teacher. My goal is to help you start speaking English with confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. I believe it is achievable for you and it’s time you started speaking English fearlessly! Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning! 

Hello and welcome to another episode. The title is: Give Yourself a Break! Top 4 Strategies. Initially I thought it would be titled: Go easy on Yourself. That’s exactly what you have to do! Well, all of my classes, or majority of them, start with a small talk, then we look at the homework, read out loud sentences created by the students and then we have the revision. Not for everyone, but for most of them it’s quite a stressful moment! Why? Because if they don’t remember the word or a phrase I keep it for next time. It happens that one word or phrase has to be repeated 5-6 or even 8 times or more! I never comment on that because it’s a norm! It’s nothing wrong with the student who has to refresh the same thing for several weeks. 

But they are tense, they beat themselves up, they go hard on themselves. My dear students, you are my never ending source of inspiration. Thank you for that! This made me think and I decided to record this episode. It’s fairly easy to say: Don’t beat yourself up. Easier said than done. So today we’re looking at 4 strategies, tangible pieces of advice on what to do and what story you have to start telling yourself so that you can grow and develop freely. As always, please stay till the end, there will be a pracicalpart. You’ll hear 15 sentences and there will be some time for you to repeat them out loud. Let’s jump in.

Number one:

Give yourself more time

I know that some language schools offer short courses and promise spectacular effects. They promise to teach you English in 3 months. Not to mention the fact that you have to learn on your own, and teachers can only guide you, give materials and knowledge, but no one can really make you learn anything. But, that’s a digression. 

So, learning to speak in 3 months. Alright. I’ve seen that. We love when things come quickly and easily and effortlessly. But honestly, it doesn’t work like that. Learning a language takes time, effort, and time again. Well, I have to add here that in fact it is possible to learn a language in a short period of time, like I don’t know if 3  but maybe 4, 5 months but, and this ‘but’ is a huge obstacle. How to learn a language in 3,4,5 months? Well, you need a very good plan, efficient techniques, and, huh! Time! You need to have like 6 or 7 or more hours a day. So, can you learn a language by studying for one hour per week? In three months? No. I’m here to tell you to slow down.  Be mindful about learning. 

Number two:

Forget about the goal.  

Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the process. Focus on the system,and  I hope it’s there. I hope it’s in place. If not, I can suggest one. In fact I’ve recorded a whole episode on the system that should work for you if you want to work with this podcast. And you can treat it as a free tool. It’s episode 76, it gives you a clear plan for each day of the week, it tells you, and it guides you what to do every day. 

The system, the method, the structure. This is your base, this is what you should refer to every day. Go back to it, focus on the structure, on the system, the results will come. They have to. You won’t even notice when the goal will have been met or achieved. You have to, I mean, I know it works so.. If you focus all your energy on the action, on these 10 minutes a day. You don’t have to follow my plan, I talked about in episode 76 but you can establish your own. First, write down a plan, what exactly you’d like to be doing daily, and be precise. Go into details. Make a clear, simple, plan for achieving the goal. But stop thinking about the goal. Keep it in mind, of course, but all your attention has to be directed on those mundane, everyday habits. Cool. I hope I conveyed the message. Just to summarize this point. Thinking about the goal for days, worrying how far from reaching that goal you are, it’s a vicious cycle. Move forward, even if it’s a tiny tiny step ahead, make those steps. One at a time. Well, you may think it’s not that sexy idea. It’s more glamorous when you hear ‘I set myself a goal, and I thought about it every day, and after a while, I just reached it.’ Well, this is not reality. Let’s have a reality check. Better sooner than later, huh? Focus on here and now, on the steps, you should take right now. And you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. What to do now? Ok, let’s study, but what? This has to be fixed much earlier. Set up a plan and stick to the plan. This is your sweet spot, this is where the magic happens. Ok, enough about that. Forgive me, but I really get fired up telling you this because I truly believe with every fibre that this is the key. Consistency. 

Number three:

Celebrate small steps forward. 

Even the tiniest. It is connected with giving yourself more time, as I said in my strategy number one. But here, it’s so important for you to notice how far you’ve actually come, I had to separate this so do the justistice and draw your attention to celebrating your successes. Listen, sticking to your plan, completing a daily 10 min learning habit and doing that consistently for a month is a success. I want to tell you that this success can be something as simple as that. You don’t have to pass a CEA exam in order to, or advanced exam, now it’s called advanced, in order to finally see the progress! Count tiny successes. Make a note of all the things you’ve done well, and give yourself permission to be proud of what you’ve accomplished instead of dissatisfied with what you haven’t done.

Number four:

Be a good parent for yourself. Be a good parent to yourself. When you feel down, stop and think for a moment. What would a good, a great, the best parent say to a child who feels the way you do? What would they say? You don’t have to be a parent to know that. You are a child, and you know very well what mummy or daddy would say. It also doesn’t matter whether your parents were those good parents, or not. It’s irrelevant. Just think, what would mummy, daddy say to their child? And say it to yourself. Be the best parent for yourself. What would they say? Oh, the answer may vary from a person to a person but in my view it would be something like that:

  • You’ve done so much! You’ve come so far!
  • You’re doing great, don’t give up.
  • I see a huge progress in your work, and I’m proud.
  • You must be proud of yourself! 

No criticism allowed, ok? Put your critical voice on mute! No good parent would say things like: you can do better, it’s not enough, you have to try harder, you never learn! You already know it! You studied this in highschool! How can you not remember such simple things? No no, forget it all. I want you not only to be your best friend, but I want you, it really changes the gears, and try for yourself, be a good parent! 

Be a good mummy. I have to tell you this, sometimes I meet with you, podcast listeners for a short chat about your blockades, your goals and your relation with English and at the end of such conversation I give honest compliments! And oh my God! Your reactions! They make me really sad, because you don’t believe in yourself, it looks like noone ever told you how good your pronunciation is and how well you communicate and how surprised I am at your fluency and you’re speechless. Noone has ever told you that. I mean… where were your teachers? Your parents?  I know, I know, it’s tricky.  So, today you have to take responsibility and be your own mummy now and never beat yourself up again. Go easy on yourself. If you are not, who will be? Inner criticism? I think it’s not on anymore! It’s draining! One more time: be your best parent. Take a deep breath and soothe yourself like you might a small child: use kind, reassuring words to ease yourself out of a stress response. Being warm and supportive towards ourselves, and actively soothing ourselves does help. While we may strive for perfection, the truth is that we are not perfect and we live in an imperfect world. Instead of beating yourself up over that, we can begin to accept it as fact and give ourselves compassion when we make mistakes or don’t meet our own standards. 

These are four tactics that always work for me, and I have one more just for you. One extra thing you can do to feel better on a day when you’re tired with English and you think you will never ever learn this stupid, full of exceptions language. 

So number five:

Take yourself for a walk. 

I’m not telling you to skip your daily portion of English? Should you really literally take a break from studying? Really? Well, I think you shouldn’t. Let me be honest, one more time. You should be your good parent but a good parent does not tell their child to give up everything, lie down and forget everything. We are adults, and we know what we want, so it won’t  happen just like that. 

Remember the first strategy? Give yourself time but don’t quit. If You have a very bad day, and your energy is low, your productivity is low, then do something. It’s better to do this 30% than do nothing instead. Do something that will be good enough. Let’s say your plan says you should watch one youtube video in English every 4 days. 

Then, translate the vocabulary, learn new phrases, prepare your own example sentences and say them out loud. Then let’s say you make a short speech based on that video and present it to your family member or to your pet, or you share it with your teacher if you have one. That is a solid plan, and I like it. 

Well, but your energy is low, ok?  And you can’t do it all, what to do then? Nothing? I say, do something. Watch the video, that’s it. It’s the easiest, and it doesn’t require any active learning and it’s enough to make you feel sure you’ve done something. You will eagerly come back to this video, to this plan of yours tomorrow, when your energy is back. Or. Take yourself for a walk and listen to some podcast in English, something totally different, something for pleasure, whatever interests you! Are you interested in gardening? Brilliant, google the best podcasts on gardening. You’ll receive  plenty of recommendations! Maybe a crime story, or psychology, technology, beauty, mindfulness, I don’t know healthy lifestyle, comedy or trivia? Pick something and go for a walk. Go outside and immerse yourself in nature. Taking yourself out of the physical space removes many of the triggers of your perfectionism and makes it more likely that you will truly relax and recharge.

That’s all I have for you today, but stay with me because now it’s time for the practical part. Listen to the sentences, 15 of them, taken from the show, and repeat out loud. 

You can treat it as a free tool.

You won’t even notice when the goal will have been met, achieved. 

Make a clear, simple, plan for achieving the goal.

Set up a plan and stick to the plan. 

Keep it in mind, of course, but all your attention has to be directed to those mundane, everyday habits.

It’s a vicious cycle. 

Draw your attention to celebrating your successes.

You don’t have to pass an advanced exam in order to finally see the progress!

What would they say?

It’s irrelevant.

You are doing great, don’t give up.

You must be proud of yourself! 

Put your critical voice on mute! 

It’s draining!

We are adults, and we know what we want, and it will not happen just like that. 

Give yourself time but don’t quit.

Now, my dear, I have homework for you. As always, it’s in your inbox. If it’s not it means you have not subscribed yet, and I don’t see why?? It’s free! Go to teacheola.com/88 and download the worksheet. This is how you become a member of TOPeople. Your homework is to translate ten sentences into English. But hey, go easy on yourself. Translate one sentence if your energy level is low and leave the rest for tomorrow! 

Let’s sum it all up. Once again, what are the four or rather five strategies that will help you cope with your impatience? How to go easy on yourself? 

Well, number one: give yourself more time.

Number two: forget about the goal.

Number three: celebrate small steps forward

Number four: be a good parent to yourself.

Number five: take yourself for a walk.

Here you have it! Top 4 strategies and one bonus on how to give yourself a break. 

If you find this episode useful tell your friends about my podcast, share it with one person. It’ll help me grow and spread the message.
Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you next Wednesday! We’re going to learn some vocabulary. We’ll talk about the difference between the words historic and historical. Interested? Be here next week!  Happy learning. Take care! Stay fearless and say it out loud! Bye!