Why virtue doesn't work

A couple of weeks ago, I bought "The Study Skills Handbook" by Stella Cottrell, who works as the Director of Lifelong Learning at the University of Leeds. This book is a real treasure: page after page of valuable brain-training and attitude-adjusting, it gives you tons of information about how to study smarter, not just study more.

One very valuable piece of information is the difference between virtue versus effectiveness (pages 64 and 65). What's the difference?

Virtue: Saying, "I have to study", over and over again (and never doing it).
Effectiveness: "Hey, Patricia... I'm having trouble with using and remembering vocabulary. What can I do to practice the words I really need?"

Virtue: "I need to do every exercise in this book."
Effectiveness: "What are the things I can't do right now? How can I work on improving those things?"

Virtue: "I haven't done any practice this week, so I'm going to work for five hours today."
Effectiveness: "I'm going to do little bits of practice every day, and I'm going to do different things so that I can improve in different areas."

Virtue: "I have to understand everything that the person says in this listening exercise."
Effectiveness: "I don't need to understand everything in order to get the most important ideas in this listening. And if I don't understand it the first time, I'll listen to it again and again until I DO understand it."

Virtue: "If I can't learn to speak English perfectly, I'm not going to try at all."
Effectiveness: "There's no such thing as perfect English. I'm going to try my best."

Is being virtuous getting you what you want?

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