It can happen quickly. You miss a few days of studying here and there and then you look up and realize that you haven’t really studied in something like three months. Or you hit a plateau and you start wondering what the point of all of this studying is for.
While there may be lots of reasons this happened (burnout from too much intense study, lack of direction, etc.), what do you do when you need to get yourself back in the game?
Most importantly, once you decide to get back into studying, how can you be sure that you stick with it over the long term
Here are 4 suggestions that I’ve taken over the years as I’ve had gone up, down & all around with my Italian studies.
Don’t feel guilty.
Whatever you do, try your best to not blame yourself or talk down to yourself about the time that you’ve missed studying. Guilt doesn’t help anybody get anywhere and the past, unfortunately, has already passed. Give yourself a break and make some space to start again.
Find the fun.
Instead of immediately getting back to your textbook or your Michel Thomas program, which are both lovely, let yourself do just the fun things in Italian for a while. So, watch movies, translate song lyrics, and watch Italian reality TV shows that make you roll your eyes (but that you can’t stop watching). Remind yourself how fun it is to learn Italian before you try to set up a study regime again.
Make a new, identity-based goal.
Change is difficult, and the reason lots of students don’t stick to studying or reach their studying goals is because the objectives they create for themselves often don’t match up with the work they’re doing on a daily basis. When you look at how behavior changes or how people accomplish things, it comes down to what they are doing in their daily routine. So, instead of saying that you want to learn 500 words in the next month, aim instead to become the kind of person that studies Italian vocabulary every single day. It is more effective if the goal is based on your identity as opposed to some intangible level of Italian achievement.
While it will be tempting to jump in with daily two-hour study sessions, I strongly recommend that you scale back and start small.
If you’re very busy, you can even start with reviewing one flashcard a day. If you have some more time, you can start with 15-minute study sessions. The point is to ease yourself back into learning the language so you’re able to create a habit of studying and stick with it over the long-term instead of starting big and flaming out.
It’s critical that you build and maintain a study streak.
When you’re able to consistently stick to a certain amount of time, you can gradually increase the time you spend studying in the same way someone who starts with only being able to do one pushup moves up to three, six, and then ten pushups. In the habit creation world, this is called success momentum, and it’s the most beautiful thing that can happen when it comes to creating behavior.
If you need more advice for how to create a study schedule or optimize your learning, you may want to check out these resources: