I think you all know what I mean, that rut you get into where you feel like you are riding around and around but not getting any better. That there is no exact measure of your progress, and you feel useless and frustrated.
This exactly how I was feeling about learning Spanish last week. I was feeling like I would never get better, that I would never “get it” especially since I am putting so much effort into it. And this is all the same things I have heard before from my students, that they are working hard everyday and feel like it is getting them nowhere.
Recently, I was having this very conversation with a student who felt like they were just going “around in circles and never getting better.” This was about the same time I was having that same feeling about learning Spanish. As the coach, I can clearly see the students progress and I know exactly the path we/they are on and where we/they are going.
That is the joy of being the leader, but it can leave the student in a void of wondering where they are, where they are going with the training, and how to measure their progress. Now as I am learning something new (Spanish, why? I was wondering that too), I am in the position of the “student” and learning new skills I can completely appreciate that feeling again.
Hey, I am putting in “the time” to learn. I put in approx. an hr every day on my spanish. I have Spanish vocabulary games for my iPhone, I have “Learning to speak Spanish” podcasts to listen to in the car, I have a copy of Rosetta Stone which my brother got in China for $4, I get kids books in Spanish/English from the library and I have a tutor where I get one on one Spanish for an hour a week (sometimes twice a week!).
So I am doing the work, and was telling Maria (my Spanish friend/tutor) how I felt like I was not getting better and still struggling with responding so as a result, was not feeling very confident. She was surprised because she thought my Spanish was so much better! That I could actually have conversations in Spanish with much less English required. Really?! Then when I left, I was able to think back and remember how hard it was to even listen and understand. I was sweating from nerves and stress the first 2 sessions, more than I do at the gym! And that doesn’t happen anymore, and I am excited to go and not exhausted when I leave.
So the question is: “How do we measure progress when there seems to be none?”
Sometimes the only answer is in looking back from where you came rather than constantly looking forward to the goal, and feeling like you will never reach it. For example, when you walk up a hill and feeling like you are never going to get to the top (like the Grouse Grind!), if you look back to where you came from you can see the amount of progress you have made.
Answer: You have to look from whence you came, so know you are getting to where you are going.
PS. Shortly after my personal frustration with my slow Spanish learning, I had a breakthrough which was very exciting! I have a new confidence and have a dose of new energy to keep working at it. Bueno!