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The Biggest Mistake a Learner Can Make

This is a guest blog post from Alex Podtynny. Alex is a teacher and the author of the book; Boost Your Learning! If you are working on improving your own memory or interested in helping your students to develop their learning habits then I recommend that you have a read.


Hi! I'm Alex Podtynny, an ESL teacher, translator and writer. I really enjoy helping people to achieve their goals in learning. I have Master's degree in Education. After graduating from my university in 2012 I've been teaching English to adults as well as to children, mostly as a tutor. I've travelled quite a lot and now I live in Mariupol, Ukraine, with my beautiful wife, Lily.


The Biggest Mistake a Learner can Make

As I am a teacher, I often speak to people about learning. And I like to ask one question: "What do you consider the biggest mistake a learner can make?" My answer to this question is: a learner can lose motivation. In the context of studying nothing can be worse. If you get a bad mark, if you fail many exams, if you write the word mother with five mistakes, it's not the worst problem. You simply need to go on learning. But if you lose motivation, you will not learn anymore. I mean you won't really learn, probably. You may attend classes but you will hardly learn anything.

Here are some essential DOs and DON'Ts about motivation:

  1. Never set up standards that are too high. High moral standards are very good. But very high standards in studying can be "fatal".
  2. Always get enough rest. Overworking is one of the fastest ways to lose motivation. You do need regular breaks.
  3. Keep track of your achievements. You might want to have a "diary of success" where you can write any improvements in your abilities or something similar. I'd suggest to write down not only this but also all the tasks you have done. Then you will be able to see how much you did, say, during the past 6 months. It can be really helpful in two ways. First, it'll inspire you to go on. Second, it'll help you fight the fear of a big amount of work yet to be done — when you see how much you have already done, you realize that you can deal even with serious challenges.
  4. Don't be afraid of failures. We all are not perfect. It seems to be so obvious. And yet we often get very frustrated about our failures. So frustrated that we almost give up. But why? Failures and mistakes are inevitable. I don't want to idealize them or say that they are good and wonderful. But we just can't avoid them. So we should treat them as a part of our life. Not as a reason to give up (which would be the biggest failure of all, by the way). We analyze them and go on. The sooner you learn this lesson, the more successful you can become!
  5. Pay attention to your food. Have you ever thoght that food is very important for motivation? I don't mean just promises to yourself like "if I write this text today, I will eat an ice-cream".  Food directly influences our brain. And that influences our mood, our mental capacity. Food is an important part of a holistic approach to boosting your learning and memory. More on this topic can be found in my new book, see the link at the end of this article.
  6. Think about future success. Dream about it. It is often easy to get lost in routine training and don't see your goal and the benefits of achieving it. So, remind yourself why you do what you do on a regular basis!
  7. The last thing may be a bit unusual but still important. Don't envy anybody for their success. There is great potential to destroy your motivation in envying somebody. When we see how good a person is at studying, we usually see only the bright side of it. We don't see all the struggles that the person probably had to achieve the success. And we become prone to self-pitying: "it is unfair that I have to work so hard to learn better and this person is already so good at learning" and so on.

First, there is no use in envying or self-pitying. It is obvious. There is simply no use — it won't help! Second, easy success has serious "side effects". Many people can get relaxed because of it and be unable to overcome difficulties when they finally face them. They don't usually have good self-discipline. They just don't need it as long as they can easily achieve their goals.  I remember a movie about an excellent pilot. She was the best of the best. So, she was included in a team that was preparing for a very serious mission. But all of a sudden one of her trainers said: "You are not ready". She was stunned: "Why, my results are so good!" The answer was: "It is because you have had only such perfect results so far, you are not ready." She had never faced a situation that was too difficult for her. She had never felt really frustrated — and she had never learned to cope with her frustration. But everybody knew, that in the future, she would almost certainly face fear and frustration. And she may not be ready for it.

Every person has a different path in this life. It is true that some people enjoy better memory and sometimes don't have to work very hard to study well. But they have other problems that we don't have. And funny as it is, they may envy us for different reasons! Instead of envying, we should focus on achieving our goals. And then we will succeed!

Would you like to get more tips about motivation in learning? Are you interested in boosting your mental capacity? Then, please, download my new ebook "Boost Your Learning" 


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