Motivation, or why am I a really slow learner of Russian.

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Sandra in Sevastopol

I have decided to write on motivation as I am currently trying, not very successfully, to learn Russian. I have a good reason for learning this language – my daughter is currently living in Sevastopol in the Crimea and I want to visit her before the end of 2014. This, however, is currently not proving to be a strong enough motivation to work on the language more than a couple of times a week. So I thought I would muse on this following my discussions with my daughter on the subject, and been inspired by her own posts on learning Russian and see if I can create a stronger focus for myself as a result.

Having started this post and not developed it I have been linked to this blog post which is about why failing to learn a language over a year can still be of benefit to your mental health. Does this make a difference to my motivation? I have been going back to my Russian a little more since then and doing my Memrise Russian course reminder sessions more often since then, so maybe it has.

Hmm – maybe I should list the ways in which I am trying to learn Russian before I go on.

I started out with 3 Memrise courses on my I-phone and iPad – Beginner’s Russian first, then I added Cardinal numbers and finally Learn Basic Russian.  I have only completed one of the courses as far as learning new words – the Cardinal numbers one. I am now going onto this course most days to do the repeat learning, and I am starting to add new words too.

I have also used Quizlet  to practice some of the words I am learning – although I often find that the new lists my daughter posts as part of her learning are scary and off-putting as she is so much further on than I am.

I have just started using a BBC Learn Russian course which includes CD’s and I am planning to create my own Quizlet sets for the words I am learning.

So why am I not getting very far? The main reasons I can identify are fear and lack of confidence – which is to be expected when I am learning but I am not making allowances for this. When I talk to my customers about their book-keeping and administration processes it is often the same things that stop them from putting processes in place. I must make sure that I use the learning about my motivation in relation to learning a language to influence the way in which I work with my customers about the things they are finding hard to focus on.

I am now going to try doing at least 15 minutes a day and will see if that helps.

I will do an update about how I am doing as I am now planning on going to Sevastopol with my daughter when she goes back after her visit to the UK this month to get her new visa.

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Is starting 2 new businesses at the same time a good idea?

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Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In my previous post Feel the Fear and do it anyway I explained about the big step I had made in deciding to take redundancy and try out a completely new way of living. I have worked in local authorities for over 30 years – and without a break for just over 26 years so this is a really big life change for me.

I decided that I did not want to focus on a single career any more, but that I would like to develop a portfolio to make sure I did not have all of my eggs in one basket. This was even more important as I was not going to have a regular pay cheque to rely on and would have to rely in the vagaries of the market – and my ability to market my own businesses.

Why did I chose the 2 businesses that I am now developing?

I chose them because they both build on my core values of helping other people to improve themselves and my desire to get back to working directly with, and helping, people. I also wanted to continue to use and develop the skills I have developed throughout my professional life as I had worked hard to learn and apply them and still have a lot to give back to all of the professions I embrace.

When developing new businesses from a standing start it is important to realise that you will be very lucky if you get good, or even any, financial returns from the start. It is important, though, to measure what you are doing for your businesses each day so that you know you are moving them forward a little bit. This is a very different way of planning to that I used to do in a local authority. There I would have plans with clear outcomes and which were SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. When starting a new business you also need clear outcomes, but the timing of them is difficult when you are still establishing yourself, and how do you know if they are realistic? Instead it is important to give yourself activity goals for every day – as you can measure your achievement if these and the more effective and positive activity you do the more likely it is your business venture will be successful.

How do you know what activity goals you need to set?

By talking to others who have gone through the same process and who can give you an idea of which activities you need to do, and for how long, before you start to see the desired outcomes that you want from your business. This can include developing a presence in the areas where people looking for your kind of business congregate – either online or face to face, the number of calls you need to make to prospects, the type of information you need to have prepared when a prospect does respond positively.

I cannot tell you yet if I have made the right choice – come back and see me again in December to see how I am doing with my 2 businesses Kate Millin Consulting and KMC Forever.

Do I manage myself effectively while working at home?

When I first started working from home the answer to this question is a definite no – I had so many things to think about and get used to as I have made such a major change in my life. I have enjoyed the freedom, but I now need to give myself some focus and manage myself more effectively. One of the reasons I made the change was to have a better work life balance so I feel I need something to give this some focus.

Inspired by Liz Broomfield’s post on how she managed herself when she first moved into full self employment this is my first attempt at some home working resolutions.  Thank you Liz for the inspiration, and the support you have given me in making this change.

So what are my resolutions?

  1. I will speak to someone else every day who is not living in the house with me – face to face will be the ideal, but by social media as a fall back.
  2. I will have 1 meal a day with the 3 main food types – carbohydrate, vegetables and protein.
  3. I will exercise for at least 30 minutes every day
  4. I will have lunch before 2pm every day
  5. I will do all of the washing up before I go to bed each night
  6. I will do no more work on my businesses after 9pm in the evening if I have done none work activities during the day and by 7pm if I have been working solidly all day.
  7. I will drink at least 2 litres of water a day
  8. I will spend time away from my computer screen for 5 minutes every hour as a minimum
  9. I will go to an event or social activity not related to my businesses at least once a week
  10. I will keep up with my friends and family

As recommended by Liz I will do a print out of the daily ones to tick off what I have done each day – at least to start off with while I am forming my new habits.

Wish me luck – and check back to see how I am doing.

Taking life at a slower pace

Having written my first few posts over a short period, I have not been able to write for some time. I had an accident on Monday 4th June 2012 (Bank Holiday Monday in England) and broke my right wrist. Yes, I am right handed. It means that I have had a lot more time for reflection during the last 2 months as it has slowed me right down. I thought I would start writing again by sharing some of my reflections:

1. I found it difficult to accept help, even though I could not manage on my own , and the help was being freely offered. I did get over this, but it was difficult for me as I am someone who is normally extremely independent and proud of being so. I hope that this will make me more sensitive about other people’s feelings when I offer help in the future.

2. There are a lot of really nice people around – I had many offers of help. Thank you to all who offered, even if I did not take up your offer. This experience will make me even more determined to offer help when I think it is needed, but I hope to be graceful in my response if my offer of help is not taken up at the timers were those who offered help to me. I also need to remember to be as open as possible in any offer of help and not to just offer what I think is needed.

3. Despite the offers of help I still got a little depressed and stir crazy because for much of the time I only interacted with people that were doing something to help me. I forgot that just having a chat or a coffee with someone is as helpful as accepting help with housework. I will try remember this for myself if I am unlucky enough to be injured again and make contact with others myself, but also to offer coffee and company to others and not just housework, lifts and shopping.

4. I had to slow down considerably from my usual pace and I have found that I liked it – the challenge will be stopping myself rushing in the future when I don’t need to. I recently read a book about the slow movement and did not think I would manage to slow down that much at my current stage in life. I feel a lot calmer and less stressed and really want to hold onto this, so will be trying to manage my lifestyle to enable this to become more established as part of it.

5. It is still possible to achieve a lot without a car by using public transport and walking. I want to keep up the walking and exercise, and reduce my use of the car.

So even though it could have just been a frustrating and negative period I have found breaking my wrist has also brought some new things into my life (and I don’t just mean the titanium plate in my right wrist).

This post is written as a thank you to all of the people that helped me when I really needed that help.