Episode 41: The Value of Not Finishing


12 June 2023

34 mins 2 secs

Season 3

Your Hosts

About this Episode

Welcome back to Season 3! In this episode, I talk about how we view and use resources with respect to finishing them. In Episode 1, I talked about history of having a strong internal desire to finish every resource I use or language project I begin. I’m a bit of an extreme case, I think, because it’s been more than just wanting to finish what I started or valuing the content of the resources I find and finishing for the sake of learning the things they teach. From the beginning of my language journey, I felt behind and like I needed to catch up, and finishing a resource seemed to be the ultimate marker of progress. Yet, focusing on finishing made every resource feel like a chore. It sucked the fun out of the process, and I found myself avoiding things rather than working on them. This misguided objective of finishing things stayed with me for years, and every time I started something new and didn’t finish it within some arbitrary amount of time, I felt like a failure. Not finishing was clearly an indicator of my inability to learn a language, despite the fact that I was actually learning the language. Ceasing to use a resource, whether I liked that resource or not, validated my core belief that I wasn’t the kind of person who could learn a language, that I was too old, not motivated enough, not dedicated enough or hard-working enough.

Today I dig deep into this history and the mindset I worked under for several years and how it led to burnout, stress, frustration, guilt, shame, and very slow progress with little joy. I share the process I went through to bring myself out of this finishing mentality (beginning with sobriety, which I talk about here in Episode 37) and what my language learning focus looks like today. There have also been some very unexpected benefits to changing up how I view and use resources, helping me tackle other language learning problems I've had as a perfectionist, such as hoarding resources and not using them to their full potential.

I hope you get something out of my story and insights today, and I'm so happy to have you here. Thank you for coming back to Season 3!

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