#145 - Forget about Your Problems

August 3, 2022

Sometimes, it's okay to quit.

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[00:00:00] What's up, Life in English family? In this episode, I'm going to tell you a quick story that might help you solve difficult problems and learn new skills more effectively. Back in 2020 when most of us were locked inside and scared of the virus, one of my friends had convinced me to try and learn JavaScript. And for those of you that don't know, JavaScript is a programming language used to create things like websites, mobile apps and games, amongst other things. But anyway, during the first few weeks of learning web development, I was fascinated - reading, understanding, and writing code to communicate with the computer and make it do whatever I want; it seemed like magic to me.

[00:00:46] I just love the fact that you could write codes to build whatever you want on the internet. The same way you can use hammers and screwdrivers and power drills to build things in the physical world. The limit is quite literally, your imagination. But after a month or two of learning the fundamentals and working on very basic projects, things started to get unbelievably difficult. Functions, parameters, callbacks, promises, loops, arrays, methods, all of these bits of information that served very specific purposes, and they needed to be chained together in order to create a fully functional site or application.

[00:01:27] Lots of math, confusing tutorials, and documentation. I found myself going down rabbit hole after rabbit hole of information until I got overwhelmed by it all and decided that programming just wasn't for me which was unfortunate because I genuinely found it interesting and wanted to get better at it. What's cool is even though I had given up on learning web development, the knowledge I had gained from that experience ended up helping me in ways you couldn't imagine. It's the reason I was able to build my current website and make it function the way it does. And also because of two fantastic young gentlemen named Victor and Abner, shout-out to y'all, man, y'all are fucking amazing, and I am forever in your debt!

[00:02:10] But let me get back to my story, because I really think it could help you to learn difficult skills in a more productive and sustainable way. So fast-forward to June 22...or June 2022, that's what I meant to say, I'm back to the basics of web development. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. And you know what's interesting? Revisiting the basics of a programming language after two years of not using it feels the same as revisiting the basics of a spoken language after two years of not speaking it. You can understand a few things here and there, and a lot of words are familiar to you. You start using the language again, and even though you don't remember everything, you're able to relearn the basics very quickly, typically within a week.

[00:02:54] And since you've got that familiarity, you can master the fundamentals and move on to more complex subjects much more quickly. So you're starting over, but you're not starting from zero. And I don't know why, but that feels good. It's like I've been here before; I made my mistakes; I learned my lessons; and now I get the chance to try again with a fresh mind backed by the memories from my last experience. I know I'm gonna learn this skill if I just keep chipping away at it, aggressively, yet patiently. And what I mean is going hard, giving it everything you've got every single day, but also knowing that you can't do more than that. So once you put in your work for the day, you should just shut everything down, review what you've learned, and revisit everything the next day. Because you can't build a city in a week, if you know what I mean.

[00:03:46] So my advice to you is to take the same approach when learning any new skill, be it communicating in English or learning to paint, it does not matter. First of all, you've got to have the right mindset. Try not to think in terms of days and weeks and instead think in terms of months and years, because that way you can track your progress in a more realistic way and be patient with yourself. You're simply not going to become great at something in three months. I don't give a fuck what anyone says. Even if you're naturally gifted, you'll still have to practice and improve just like everyone else if you wanna be the best that you can possibly be. And finally, spend the first few months constantly learning everything you can about the fundamentals of the skill. Play around with it. Don't take it too seriously. Experiment. Make mistakes. Get feedback. Challenge yourself. All that!

[00:04:42] And eventually, you're gonna get to a point where things start to get too difficult and you might consider quitting. And whenever you reach that point, simply take a break. A long break. Don't even look at the subject for a week or two, or in my case, a fucking year or two. Then come back to your studies with a rejuvenated mind that's had the time to digest all of that new and interesting information. I know I talk a lot about studying and practicing your English every single day until you can speak like a native. But we're all different and we all learn in different ways. And sometimes the best way to learn a new skill that seems unlearnable is to stop trying to force it, walk away from it for a while, and come back to it once you've forgotten how much it makes you cry.

[END OF EPISODE]

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[00:00:00] What's up, Life in English family? In this episode, I'm going to tell you a quick story that might help you solve difficult problems and learn new skills more effectively. Back in 2020 when most of us were locked inside and scared of the virus, one of my friends had convinced me to try and learn JavaScript. And for those of you that don't know, JavaScript is a programming language used to create things like websites, mobile apps and games, amongst other things. But anyway, during the first few weeks of learning web development, I was fascinated - reading, understanding, and writing code to communicate with the computer and make it do whatever I want; it seemed like magic to me.

[00:00:46] I just love the fact that you could write codes to build whatever you want on the internet. The same way you can use hammers and screwdrivers and power drills to build things in the physical world. The limit is quite literally, your imagination. But after a month or two of learning the fundamentals and working on very basic projects, things started to get unbelievably difficult. Functions, parameters, callbacks, promises, loops, arrays, methods, all of these bits of information that served very specific purposes, and they needed to be chained together in order to create a fully functional site or application.

[00:01:27] Lots of math, confusing tutorials, and documentation. I found myself going down rabbit hole after rabbit hole of information until I got overwhelmed by it all and decided that programming just wasn't for me which was unfortunate because I genuinely found it interesting and wanted to get better at it. What's cool is even though I had given up on learning web development, the knowledge I had gained from that experience ended up helping me in ways you couldn't imagine. It's the reason I was able to build my current website and make it function the way it does. And also because of two fantastic young gentlemen named Victor and Abner, shout-out to y'all, man, y'all are fucking amazing, and I am forever in your debt!

[00:02:10] But let me get back to my story, because I really think it could help you to learn difficult skills in a more productive and sustainable way. So fast-forward to June 22...or June 2022, that's what I meant to say, I'm back to the basics of web development. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. And you know what's interesting? Revisiting the basics of a programming language after two years of not using it feels the same as revisiting the basics of a spoken language after two years of not speaking it. You can understand a few things here and there, and a lot of words are familiar to you. You start using the language again, and even though you don't remember everything, you're able to relearn the basics very quickly, typically within a week.

[00:02:54] And since you've got that familiarity, you can master the fundamentals and move on to more complex subjects much more quickly. So you're starting over, but you're not starting from zero. And I don't know why, but that feels good. It's like I've been here before; I made my mistakes; I learned my lessons; and now I get the chance to try again with a fresh mind backed by the memories from my last experience. I know I'm gonna learn this skill if I just keep chipping away at it, aggressively, yet patiently. And what I mean is going hard, giving it everything you've got every single day, but also knowing that you can't do more than that. So once you put in your work for the day, you should just shut everything down, review what you've learned, and revisit everything the next day. Because you can't build a city in a week, if you know what I mean.

[00:03:46] So my advice to you is to take the same approach when learning any new skill, be it communicating in English or learning to paint, it does not matter. First of all, you've got to have the right mindset. Try not to think in terms of days and weeks and instead think in terms of months and years, because that way you can track your progress in a more realistic way and be patient with yourself. You're simply not going to become great at something in three months. I don't give a fuck what anyone says. Even if you're naturally gifted, you'll still have to practice and improve just like everyone else if you wanna be the best that you can possibly be. And finally, spend the first few months constantly learning everything you can about the fundamentals of the skill. Play around with it. Don't take it too seriously. Experiment. Make mistakes. Get feedback. Challenge yourself. All that!

[00:04:42] And eventually, you're gonna get to a point where things start to get too difficult and you might consider quitting. And whenever you reach that point, simply take a break. A long break. Don't even look at the subject for a week or two, or in my case, a fucking year or two. Then come back to your studies with a rejuvenated mind that's had the time to digest all of that new and interesting information. I know I talk a lot about studying and practicing your English every single day until you can speak like a native. But we're all different and we all learn in different ways. And sometimes the best way to learn a new skill that seems unlearnable is to stop trying to force it, walk away from it for a while, and come back to it once you've forgotten how much it makes you cry.

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • Write about a time you overcame an extremely difficult situation.
  • How do you typically relieve stress?
  • How do you know when it's time to give up?
  • What has kept you motivated on your English learning journey?
Key Vocabulary & Grammar Guide
Download the VIP
Key Vocabulary Guide

Transcript

[00:00:00] What's up, Life in English family? In this episode, I'm going to tell you a quick story that might help you solve difficult problems and learn new skills more effectively. Back in 2020 when most of us were locked inside and scared of the virus, one of my friends had convinced me to try and learn JavaScript. And for those of you that don't know, JavaScript is a programming language used to create things like websites, mobile apps and games, amongst other things. But anyway, during the first few weeks of learning web development, I was fascinated - reading, understanding, and writing code to communicate with the computer and make it do whatever I want; it seemed like magic to me.

[00:00:46] I just love the fact that you could write codes to build whatever you want on the internet. The same way you can use hammers and screwdrivers and power drills to build things in the physical world. The limit is quite literally, your imagination. But after a month or two of learning the fundamentals and working on very basic projects, things started to get unbelievably difficult. Functions, parameters, callbacks, promises, loops, arrays, methods, all of these bits of information that served very specific purposes, and they needed to be chained together in order to create a fully functional site or application.

[00:01:27] Lots of math, confusing tutorials, and documentation. I found myself going down rabbit hole after rabbit hole of information until I got overwhelmed by it all and decided that programming just wasn't for me which was unfortunate because I genuinely found it interesting and wanted to get better at it. What's cool is even though I had given up on learning web development, the knowledge I had gained from that experience ended up helping me in ways you couldn't imagine. It's the reason I was able to build my current website and make it function the way it does. And also because of two fantastic young gentlemen named Victor and Abner, shout-out to y'all, man, y'all are fucking amazing, and I am forever in your debt!

[00:02:10] But let me get back to my story, because I really think it could help you to learn difficult skills in a more productive and sustainable way. So fast-forward to June 22...or June 2022, that's what I meant to say, I'm back to the basics of web development. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. And you know what's interesting? Revisiting the basics of a programming language after two years of not using it feels the same as revisiting the basics of a spoken language after two years of not speaking it. You can understand a few things here and there, and a lot of words are familiar to you. You start using the language again, and even though you don't remember everything, you're able to relearn the basics very quickly, typically within a week.

[00:02:54] And since you've got that familiarity, you can master the fundamentals and move on to more complex subjects much more quickly. So you're starting over, but you're not starting from zero. And I don't know why, but that feels good. It's like I've been here before; I made my mistakes; I learned my lessons; and now I get the chance to try again with a fresh mind backed by the memories from my last experience. I know I'm gonna learn this skill if I just keep chipping away at it, aggressively, yet patiently. And what I mean is going hard, giving it everything you've got every single day, but also knowing that you can't do more than that. So once you put in your work for the day, you should just shut everything down, review what you've learned, and revisit everything the next day. Because you can't build a city in a week, if you know what I mean.

[00:03:46] So my advice to you is to take the same approach when learning any new skill, be it communicating in English or learning to paint, it does not matter. First of all, you've got to have the right mindset. Try not to think in terms of days and weeks and instead think in terms of months and years, because that way you can track your progress in a more realistic way and be patient with yourself. You're simply not going to become great at something in three months. I don't give a fuck what anyone says. Even if you're naturally gifted, you'll still have to practice and improve just like everyone else if you wanna be the best that you can possibly be. And finally, spend the first few months constantly learning everything you can about the fundamentals of the skill. Play around with it. Don't take it too seriously. Experiment. Make mistakes. Get feedback. Challenge yourself. All that!

[00:04:42] And eventually, you're gonna get to a point where things start to get too difficult and you might consider quitting. And whenever you reach that point, simply take a break. A long break. Don't even look at the subject for a week or two, or in my case, a fucking year or two. Then come back to your studies with a rejuvenated mind that's had the time to digest all of that new and interesting information. I know I talk a lot about studying and practicing your English every single day until you can speak like a native. But we're all different and we all learn in different ways. And sometimes the best way to learn a new skill that seems unlearnable is to stop trying to force it, walk away from it for a while, and come back to it once you've forgotten how much it makes you cry.

[END OF EPISODE]

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