What does doing push-ups and learning a foreign language have in common?
Many of us try to improve ourselves through doing more and learning new things. We often invest our time, strive a lot, sometimes become discouraged and give up. However, in the fast-changing world, it is important to keep going, so we usually do our best. I am no exception to that rule. I started learning Spanish one and a half year ago and doing push-ups half a year ago. Luckily, I discovered a few principles governing the success in both of these activities. Here, I would like to show you some of the most important rules which apply both during learning a foreign language as well as doing physical activities based on my humble example. Enjoy!
Rule No. 1: Test yourself
It might be surprising, but the most important thing in terms of even starting either learning a foreign language or doing physical exercises is checking your current abilities. I had to test how many push-ups I could do before the application was able to assign my current level of development. The same was with Spanish. I had to test myself on what I already knew. Although I didn’t get any brilliant results in either of them, I was able to find out where I should start. The same applies to you. It is essential for you to test your skills so as to know what your level of development is and how you should progress. DO NOT skip the test for any reason! In the case of learning a language, you might get highly discouraged and resign from progressing any further while in terms of physical activities – you might even get hurt!
Rule No. 2: Be systematic
Both learning a language and doing exercises require discipline and determination. That is why you should decide how much time you can devote to your training and how often you can do it. My decision was about 15 minutes of Spanish per day every day and 45 minutes of practising push ups on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. This may not seem much, but being systematic can work real miracles for you. If you sometimes have to change the day or skip one day, it will not affect you, but don’t forget to resume your training. Such a system has been working well for me. I can now speak pre-intermediate level of Spanish and my biceps have never been bigger (I’m no athlete but I’m still proud)!
Rule No. 3: Take reasonable breaks
Sometimes, the situation gets difficult. Sometimes, I get completely stuck on a particular Spanish task and can’t move on. Sometimes, I drop on the mattress and become unable to lift my body again to do another push-up. Should I give up? Definitely not. But I should take a break. So should you. Taking breaks is an essential part of the development process. It’s not about being lazy but about allowing your mind to refresh or muscles to regenerate. So, do take breaks, sometimes even longer if you feel that you really need more time. Just don’t make them too long, otherwise you will find it extremely difficult to get back to your activities or even experience regress instead of progress.
Rule No. 4: Don’t expect immediate brilliant results
If you have just managed to do 30 push-ups on both hands, it does not mean that you can also do 100 push-ups on one hand. Similarly, if you have just learned about colours, numbers and family members, don’t expect to be able to discuss the global economic situation in a foreign language. Progress takes time. Sometimes, people get frustrated because they cannot see the results, especially when they train every day. However, results come even if you don’t notice them. They really do. But they are usually so small and gradual that they are easy to overlook on a daily basis. If you are still uncertain, ask yourself questions such as: “Could I do 30 push-ups in a row a month ago?”; “Can I do 30 push-ups in a row now?”; “Could I talk about colours a month ago?”; “Can I talk about colours now?”. If the answers follow the pattern: “No”; “Yes”; “No”; “Yes”, then you are on the right track to success. Focus also on the very process and not only the results and you will be fine.
Rule No. 5: Don’t give up
This is an extension of all the previous rules. The sad truth: I gave up a couple of times. I sometimes had breaks which lasted a few weeks and had a detrimental effect on my progress. But I eventually convinced myself that I really wanted to achieve something in the field of push-ups and Spanish. For this reason, I have hardly ever skipped a day of my training for the last few months. From time to time, you will feel like not doing anything and just letting it go. On these special days, you have a chance to prove yourself that you are stronger than your laziness or doubts. If these days come, push yourself into doing push-ups… or Spanish… or any other activity that you decided to do. I guarantee that you will feel fantastic after completing your training on such days. You will feel like a champion!
Now, you are aware of the rules governing both doing physical exercises and learning a foreign language. However, they are not limited to these two activities. They also apply to many other tasks which will lead you to achieving something in life and becoming a better person. Test them out on any other activity and see your excellent results over time. I am going to carry out my training until I reach my desired goal. I hope that you will do the same and one day we will be able to discuss our results. Until then, practise, practise, practise!