Judge your progress, not yourself

Yesterday I was down in the dumps and angry at myself for my lack of progress. I could have been still coasting from another well-received musical event over the weekend, but instead I felt miserable and just kept wallowing in shame because I wasn’t where I thought I should be.

My number one goal this year, according to my journal, is to learn to speak and understand Italian so that I can have deeper relationships with people. I’ve been taking lessons and doing homework, but inconsistently. My reading and writing skills have improved a bit but not significantly. I’ve been living here off and on for six years and I ought to be able to converse with people better than I do now.

I could easily list the things I’m doing wrong– spending too much time with English speakers, speaking English with my Italian friends, being afraid to make a mistake.

This self-flagellation isn’t useful. It doesn’t make me want to study harder. It makes me want to go to bed and pull the covers over my head.

Enough! Non ce la faccio più! (I just learned that yesterday).

When you are not making the kind of progress you want, it’s time to reevaluate your approach. What is it about what you’re doing that’s not working? What adjustments can you try? Look at how you stated your goal and your reason for wanting it? Is it still true? Will achieving that goal get you that result? Are the actions you’ve been taking the right ones or do you need to change course?

Yesterday my teacher and I came up with a new plan to focus more on speaking and listening and less on reading and writing. I want to practice more consistently and will track my activities (gold stars). When I’m tempted to feel guilt and shame I will reframe it into desire and positive action.

I’m making a fresh start with renewed determination. That is a way better (and more productive) feeling than self-hatred.

P.S. Anna, Lucia non lasciarmi parlare in inglese quando vi vedo.


Originally published at lizsumner.com on July 26, 2017.

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