March 2021 Goal Review

Until recently, let’s say 2020, I’ve never been consistently good at making SMART goals. I always have long-term goals that I work toward, but making them measurable, realistic, and timely often falls by the wayside. Consequently, I’ve never gotten into the habit of tracking my goals. I think part of this is because many of my life’s goals have been tracked just by the nature of the goal. When earning a Master’s degree, for example, the school provided a checklist that contained all the required courses, two comprehensive exams, and a thesis. All I had to do was check the boxes, and I would stay on track.

Language learning progression, however, requires more individualized planning. When learning Italian, I started by learning only those things that my resources put in front of me. My overarching goal of “fluency,” which isn’t as objective as I once imagined, was mindlessly broken down into smaller goals like “Finish the Duolingo tree” and “Complete ISL 1 and 2.” Looking back, I can see so many missed opportunities to hone and track my progress. Finishing a resource is great, but not if we forget to set our sights on all the lessons within it. In ISL 2, for example, we learned how to conjugate verbs in the passato prossimo, including several irregular participles. I used this knowledge to complete the homework assignments every week, and I was able to talk to friends more accurately about what I did over the weekend. Yet I still made so many mistakes choosing between the auxiliary verbs essere and avere (which would absolutely have been okay if I’d used those mistakes as lessons instead of beating myself up about them), and I struggled to understand the difference between when to use the passato prossimo and the imperfetto.

The cure? GOALS and tracking them! It wasn’t enough for me to learn the basic rules of a single verb tense. I needed to put it into action and see my progress over time. Last month I wrote about my March 2021 goals for studying German, and now I’m going to do something I’ve never really done, which is analyze how I did (or did not) in order to determine what changes (if any) need to be made for April. Now, I’ll take a moment here to bring up my perfectionism again because perfectionist Heidi views not reaching a goal as a failure. It doesn’t matter if outside circumstances got in the way, if my goals were too ambitious, or if I worked myself to the point of exhaustion. Unmet goals are embarrassing to the perfectionist me. And this is one of the main reasons I decided to start a blog — to force myself to acknowledge that some goals just aren’t met in the time I set, and that it’s okay. It doesn’t mean failure. Instead, it allows me to take an honest look at my goals, my life, and my time (none of which are perfectly regimented), and make adjustments to what I can while accepting what I cannot. So here goes…

Goal 1:
I purposefully slowed my pace in German Uncovered for March, and I wanted to complete Chapters 6 & 7 while reviewing Chapters 1-4.

Did I reach this goal?

No. This was actually a really good SMART goal, but unexpected life things happened. Our region closed the primary and pre-schools for 3 weeks, so my daughter switched to online schooling while my 4-year-old son needed to be entertained during this time. Not being willing to wake up hours earlier every day or ignore my children’s much-needed attention, I decided to just complete what I could and instead focus on German input that I can do while kids are at home.

Do I need to change something for April?

No. I did get to finish Chapter 6, and spreading it out over a couple of weeks turned out to be really good for understanding the material, which was quite heavy in the grammar department. I also reviewed Chapters 1 & 2. As of now, we anticipate schools reopening after Easter, so for April my German Uncovered goal is to complete Chapters 7 & 8 and review Chapters 3 & 4.

Goal 2:
Complete the weekly writing prompts from Language Life.

Did I reach this goal?

Yes! I didn’t actually write a prompt each week, though, so I spent the last week completing 3 of the 4. My German responses are pretty short due to my beginner-level vocabulary, but I made sure to construct sentences using the new grammar I learned and also put any new vocabulary into my Anki flashcards. For now, doing several writing prompts at once was a good workaround to my lack of available focused study time this month.

Do I need to change something for April?

Not a thing. However, this month I want to learn the present perfect tense in German, so I’m adding the goal of using this tense in at least two of my writing prompts. And ya know what? I’ll just go ahead and make a blog post with those prompts and responses to keep myself even more accountable.

Goal 3:
Have two 30-minute iTalki sessions.

Did I reach this goal?

No. I did have one 30-minute session before the schools closed, and I have already rescheduled the other for April. For speaking, though, I was able ro join a German Zoom call with a group of amazing women I met through the Women in Language conference. That led to an Italian-German language exchange with one of the women, so I am truly thrilled with my speaking practice this month.

Do I need to change something for April?

No. Again, with things going back to somewhat normal, I have two 30-minute iTalki lessons booked. I will add in the goal of joining at least one Zoom call this month, as well.

So how did I do overall for March? All things considered, I did amazing. I didn’t get stressed or beat myself up over not getting everything done in German Uncovered, for starters. I didn’t wake up hours earlier or stay up late just to reach this goal. Instead, I considered my sanity and self-care first because those are required for having two young kids at home who need me. And honestly, they’re also needed for meaningful, effective language study, as well. I did have daily contact with the language via Duolingo, LinQ, or Yask. I practiced speaking & listening (Zoom + exchange & music), writing (Language Life prompts + Yask), and reading (Chapter 6 German Uncovered + countless memes & subtitles on my Instagram feed). I did what I could when I could, and I learned so much this month that I positively have so much to be proud of. Not only that, but being able to overcome such a major change to my routine has also shown me how flexible I can be and motivate me to keep pushing on in both Italian and German.

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