LH, a student from a medical college, writes:
I've been annoyed for years by my poor memory. It blocks me from improving my English language skills. How to get rid of this problem? I've been searching for ways to get any effect... but I can't see any of them works. I want to broaden my vocabulary eagerly!
Can you help me, please?
I don't know if you have a poor memory. I know you have a poor excuse.
When we do something well, people often attribute our success to talent. That's their excuse. Talent is overblown. Our success is down to effort. That means honest hard work, putting in the hours while others are playing (or praising us for having talents they themselves don't possess).
Conversely, when we don't something well, we often attribute our failure to something we seemingly don't have control over – we didn't go to the best school, the weather is hot down south or what have you. This is our excuse. It makes our failures easier to take. But deep down, we know our lack of success is down to effort and interest, the lacks thereof that is.
Let's face it, LH, no-one has that much better a memory than another. One man may be able to count pi to 17 places (3.1415926575897932). But that same man may fail to recall the name of the current Prime Minister (Wen Jiabao). What separates one from another ultimately is their effort and, ultimately, interest.
Effort equates to a lot of time spent on it, something that requires interest to sustain. People who are not interested in something are unlikely to spend a lot of time on it and much less likely to see results. On the other hand, those that are interested tend to be more enthusiastic while they are at it. They are more devoted to the cause and therefore are more likely to effect good results.
How do we know if something interests us? We learn it from experience through trial and error. We try different things before settling on some. Ideally, there need be no forcing it. It happens naturally. Just let different activities (going to the movies, sitting up late to watch sports on television, reading a book on bio-engineering, gossiping via MSN, looking after children, going to meetings, reading a medical journal etc.) compete for your time and see what happens. Trust me, let them compete against each other and they'll pretty much sort themselves out. Activities that consume more of your time than others are where your interests are.
Now, back to your poor memory thing. First of all, I don't think it's a medical condition. You're a medical student. You should know (I don't even think you have a poor memory – at any rate, you gave no evidence).
You have a problem remembering English vocabs. That's nothing unusual. There are many diagnoses to give, but if you pardon my bluntness, I'll point to two things – either you're not giving the effort or you're not interested in remembering them stupid words in the first place. Either case, you'll find it hard to see results.
The thing to do is to align your effort with your interests and with your goals (career or life-wise). Ask yourself these questions. Does English really interest you? Is remembering words and improving your English language skills really important to you? If so, give the effort – you'd be happy to. If not, do something else and be at peace with the fact memory doesn't always serve when it comes to some English words.
Either way, don't allow poor memory be an excuse. It's not what's holding you back.
I can help you, but please, I can't help you as much as you can help yourself.