Continuing to Learn When You Don’t Feel Like it

It's like tossing the trash, it doesn't matter if you don't want to, you still have to do it.

(This blog is the English translation of this week’s primary blog, which was originally written in Spanish.)

A popular topic for language learning tips online is how to make sure that you enjoy it. Sometimes spending hours and hours each day learning can be difficult, maybe boring, and many people give up before they finish because they get bored. And there are many things that someone can do to be happy with their learning plan, like varying methods, or choosing entertainment that they want to enjoy anyway, etc., and advice like that is good. But there are times when a person doesn’t feel like learning despite everything. And when that happens, what can be done?

There are many reasons why someone might feel that way. Life’s hard, and some days I get home from work and don’t feel like doing anything besides staring at the wall. And other times I don’t want to read a specific story, even when I love the book. And of course I can get depressed. Depression and I are good friends, I am trans after all, and when someone is depressed, they don’t feel like lifting a finger, let alone spend a few hours with a different and challenging language. They want to go to bed and forget the world for a while.

Okay, that conversation depresses me, let’s get back to the question, what can be done? Advice on how to stay happy with the learning process is fine, but there’s got be something for when you’re already unhappy, right? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. And anyone who’s had something like, “let’s turn room cleaning into a game and see who finishes the fastest,” said to them already knows it. You have to want to do something to enjoy it, and nobody can force you.

That said, I know what depression is like, and on the one hand I’ll want to do something, and on the other hand I’ll feel like I can’t make myself do it. I may like the book, or the movie, or any method of learning I use, but I’ll continuing failing to work hard at the task simply because something is wrong that day.

Fortunately, there’s one type of advice that is useful for dealing with this problem: how to work through procrastination. A little over a year ago, I wrote a blog about my struggles with procrastination and said that this project has helped me with it. And it’s true, since I started to learn Spanish, and especially since I started this blog, I haven’t had the same problems with procrastination, because I’ve been working on one thing or another for so long every day that I don’t have time to put anything off, but of course I had to change some of my habits before I got rid of procrastination.

And, well, the advice doesn’t feel very good, but what do you do if you don’t want to do anything? Do it anyway. Now. Right now. Don’t wait until you feel like doing it, do it until you do feel like doing it, because that’s how it works. Everyone thinks it works the other way around, but the truth is that work comes first, and the desire comes later. It can be hard, and it can be unpleasant at first, and on a bad day, it may never feel good, even after putting in the effort. But it’s the best course of action, and if you do it, eventually the motivation will come back to you.

Alright, let’s see the numbers for the week.

Tuesday 12/10

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of Cien Años de Soledad, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of Disenchantment, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Wednesday 12/11

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of Cien Años de Soledad, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of No Hay Tos, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Thursday 12/12

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of Cien Años de Soledad, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of Arte Divierte, 1 episode of La Zona Cero, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 12/13

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of Cien Años de Soledad, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of TED en Español, 1 episode of Carmen Sandiego, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 12/14

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 1% of Cien Años de Soledad, ~30 minutes
  • Writing: 1200 words, ~150 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Sunday 12/15

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of Cien Años de Soledad, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Radio Ambulante, 1 episode of Disenchantment, 1 episode of La Zona Cero, 1 episode of Andrea Ga, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Monday 12/16

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of Cien Años de Soledad, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of Radio Ambulante, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes
  • Total Duolingo: 140 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total reading: 1/5 book, 390 minutes
  • Total watching/listening: 8 YouTube episodes, 6 podcasts, and 3 tv episodes, 390 minutes
  • Total writing: 1200 words, 150 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 210 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 hours 30 minutes

It was a good week, I suppose. Maybe you thought that the main theme of the blog would mean that I had a disaster this week and didn’t do anything for a day or two. Well, no, because I followed my own advice. Saturday could have been a disaster. I woke up feeling terrible, and I also had so many other things to do apart from writing this blog or reading anything. But I forced myself to do everything, and the blog numbers are normal.

I’ve been reading Cien Años de Soledad, and … well, I don’t hate it or anything, but it’s not my favorite book of the year. The style is very dense, and there’re topics that make me uncomfortable. If you’ve never read it, there is a “romance” between an adult and a nine-year-old girl, and … in English, I call that “eeeeugh.” To be honest, the book doesn’t pretend that this is normal or okay, but I still feel uncomfortable. I hope the next book is lighter.

After a suggestion, I tried the Radio Ambulante podcast this week, and I like it. The normal length for the episodes is perfect for my commute to and from work. In addition, there are a lot of old episodes to enjoy.

I’ve been trying to clear the queue of shows I have on Netflix, and I finished the season of Disenchantment this week. One down, so many more to go. And I enjoyed Disenchantment, by the way. In recent blogs I’ve talked about the entertainment I choose to watch or listen to and how I’ve favored YouTube because the content is more authentic. Disenchantment is a good show, yeah, but it was written in English and then translated into Spanish, while people like Daniel San GMR or Kiwillius don’t need to do anything first in order to speak in Spanish. And I think I should continue to favor this type of media, but that does not change the fact that shows like Disenchantment are good.

Well, I think I’m going to leave it at that. TTFN.

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