10 Powerful Strategies to Challenge Yourself in English and Boost Your Confidence

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Discover powerful strategies for challenging yourself in English and boosting your confidence. Step into a challenge, and overcome the feeling of being stuck in your learning progress. Whether you need to improve your communication skills or face teachable moments, learn actionable strategies to achieve your goals.

Hello, Advanced English learners. Welcome back. I want to talk today a little bit about finding new ways of challenging yourself. You might be in a situation where you're not really making progress. You feel stuck, you feel like progress has stagnated.

Sometimes that's really all an indication of not challenging yourself enough. So today, this week, in fact, maybe even for the rest of this month, I challenge you to find ways of challenging yourself. How can you step into a challenge this week? Let's start with this week. What is one thing you're going to do this week that is going to challenge you in some way in English.

I'll share some ideas I have so that maybe that'll give you some encouragement, some motivation, and maybe from there you'll use that as a launching pad for coming up with your own ways of challenging yourself. One that comes to mind is finding an opportunity for interaction. So maybe you have a colleague at work and you have your business meeting in English, maybe you say, I've been meaning to ask your advice on X, Y, Z. Do you have 30 minutes for scheduling coffee at some point? And then going from there and having a coffee chat with them. 

Or maybe you have colleagues with whom you speak, L1, your shared first language. Maybe you say to them, why don't we practice together for one hour each week and just speak in English. Maybe it's during a lunch break and you and this friend, maybe you get a bunch of people together. You practice English like that. 

Maybe you feel like you are struggling a little bit with your zoom calls. Schedule some more Zoom calls in a way that is going to position you to challenge yourself and try out different aspects of what you want to focus on. For example, in some cases it might be making points clearly. In other cases it could be gesticulating. Making sure that you're using adequate and sufficient gestures in your on camerara Zoom calls.

Maybe another one is to listen more, right? So there's so many things that we can work on in our communication events, and you don't have to feel like you need to do all of this in one sitting or just at once, but rather think of it as incremental growth. And you're really establishing building blocks and then adding to that. So adding extra layers of the building blocks or a layer to the onion that you have. You can think of really any metaphor like this, but you get my point. So find ways of challenging yourself and stepping into that challenge. Maybe it's better listening, being a better listener, because with communication, you also not just have the speaking aspect, but the listening aspect and both together makeup communication. 

With English as well. It could be something like, I want to read more in English, and maybe you just haven't found the time in your day, in your busy schedule to read more. So there's some crazy statistic, like if you read only 15 minutes a day, you'll probably finish two books a month. Just think about that. When was the last time you picked up a book, read 15 pages, and then just carried on with your day? A lot of times for many of us, we have bookshelves filled with books and they just start to collect dust because we're not reading them. Or maybe you have an e-reader or a Kindle or a tablet, but you download all the books and you never read them.

So I really encourage you to start thinking about those little things, like the little ways of challenging yourself that you can do a little bit of every day and over time it amounts to something pretty extraordinary. So at the end of the month you say, wow, I just read two books. How did I find the time for that?

So my point here is that do things that are gonna challenge you and help you get outta your comfort zone, increase that confidence in your ability to rise to a challenge instead of shying away from a challenge because that in and of itself is a huge feat. It's a great undertaking, and it's a great mental exercise as well, because we have to tell ourselves first and foremost, that we're confident that we're not afraid of a challenge.

So purposefully finding and seeking these challenges is going to make you overall a more confident individual. And then carving out time to work on those challenges. And you can choose any type of challenge you'd like as it relates to English. You can cover all four skills, listening, reading, writing, speaking, and you can mix and match. But I really encourage you to work on those challenges every single day. 

Okay, so now that know what challenges you are, you're gonna step into those challenges and what's gonna happen? Several things can happen, of course, but two main outcomes sort of stick out in my mind, and maybe for you that'll be a little bit different.

And if that's the case, great. I welcome it. I'd love to hear it. So two that stick out in my mind are one, the realization that challenge wasn't as hard as you thought it was gonna be, and it wasn't so scary after all. Or two, it was really hard, and maybe there was a little bit of failure involved.

Again, that's not a scary word. We're not making failure a scary thing. We're making it a teachable moment. So maybe it turns into something where you learn from it. You learn that maybe 15 minutes a day is not gonna cut it for you to read. Maybe that kind of book that you chose is just really not doing anything for you.

Or maybe you need to challenge yourself even more because you feel like the challenge that you gave yourself was too easy and so you didn't feel challenged. And that in and of itself was maybe a little bit of a failure. And I'm putting that in quotes because again, failure is not a bad thing as long as we learn from it.

So it's really a win-win situation because you'll either feel like, oh, that wasn't as hard as I thought. Okay, I'm ready for the next challenge give me what you got. Or it turns into a teachable moment, and in which case, that's also very powerful because you learn from it. You say, okay that wasn't that great, but next time I will do X, Y, Z, and I really encourage you, if that's the case, if that's the outcome of the challenge, when you step into a challenge and it's, you're met with difficulty and you have this teachable moment, I want you to really think about what went wrong, why did it go? , and then what are you gonna do differently next time to set yourself up for success?

So really thinking about it in terms of actionable strategies as opposed to just saying, oh, that didn't go well. All right, I'll forget about it because it makes me uncomfortable to think about it. No, lean into that discomfort and strategize. What can you do differently next time to create a different outcome?

Because without those changes. It's just gonna be the same over and over again. And we want to bring about positive change. We wanna bring about these positive outcomes that come from hard work, smart work, and challenging ourself enough.

All right, so I hope that you try these strategies out, step into those challenges that we spoke about. Come up with challenges that are important for you, for your personal life, for your professional life, for your overall happiness, because we all deserve that. And look, in the beginning, you're not going to feel that confident. Nor should you expect to. But over time, putting in the hours, feeling like you're incrementally working towards something big, like a goal, stepping into that challenge, you are going to feel so much more confident than you would if you just ditched that challenge, gave up on that challenge, threw in the towel as we like to say in English. Or if you just didn't rise to that challenge at all to begin with. So you'll feel so much more confident at the end or even in the middle of doing that challenge than you do at the beginning. So just be prepared for those changes in your emotions and also in your confidence levels and step into the challenge.

All right. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm so happy to have you here. Show the podcast some love. Share it with people, share it with your friends. Leave a nice review, engage with the podcast in some way. You can share your thoughts and your questions and your comments in the q and a. And also, if you're watching this on YouTube, show it some love on YouTube as well. So the more that you engage with it and show how much you like it, the more we are able to stick around and keep this podcast going. So I really appreciate all of your enthusiasm around it. I appreciate your being here, and I appreciate you taking the time to spend some of your day with me. So thank you so much and I will see you in the next Advanced English lesson. Bye for now.