With the New Year around the corner, a lot of people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions. So I’ve been thinking about what it means to be determined to accomplish my goals.

So many people throw grandiose goals into the air like their goals alone make them spectacularly successful people whom everyone should respect and admire. It’s almost as if people treat goals like accomplishments. “One day I’ll own a company” “One day I’ll publish a best selling novel” “One day I’ll study abroad” “One day I”ll be fluent in Japanese”.  Goals are nothing but thoughts floating aimlessly in an ether of other thoughts.  They don’t independently carry any value over other thoughts that you might have, and they’re no different from passing notions in the nature of  “gee, the weather is nice today.” That is, unless you actually act on those goals and make them a real reality. Then, and only then, do they become something worthwhile.

It’s easy to wake up in the morning and study a lot of Vocabulary and Kanji the day after you proclaim that your dream in life is to become fluent in Japanese.  It’s easy to go to the gym and hit the weights the day you tell yourself “hey, I’m going to get jacked this year”.  What’s difficult is maintaining your motivation, sticking to it, and making your dream a reality. Most people peter out after a week or so, and even the better “goal achievers” among us get bored or lose interest after a month. But the really successful people in the world, the people taking all the reality away from the rest of us so all that’s left are empty dreams, those people don’t peter out. They don’t seem to lose interest. If we are like steam engines trying to get over a mountain, those people seem like rocket ships launched into outer space. We have to deal with gravity, weather and fuel. They just keep going without friction, for ever and ever, only stopping if something crashes into them.

Is this true though? Are there really such people who once they decide to do something never stop and never need refueling? Personally, no, I don’t think so. I think they’re just better train conductors than the rest of us. They just know how to keep their steam engine rolling up the hill at a steady pace. Even the best of the best get tired. The difference between them and us is that they deal with their tiredness productively and effectively. The rest of us take a day off, that day becomes a week, the week becomes a month, and the month becomes a year. Before we know it, our day off has become the reason we gave up on our goal. “was I planning on losing 40 lbs? oh yeah… well, make that 55, I gained 15 over the last couple months.”  It’s a sad thing to watch your goals sink to the goal graveyard. It’s happened to me a few times in my life, and I got sick of it. People, it’s time to stop letting our goals and dreams die young. Let’s make them a reality together.

Let’s get specific now, we’ll talk about Japanese (that is what this blog is about after all, right?). If you don’t study Japanese, what I’m about to say can be applied to other goals in life, so don’t stop reading.

I’m not just motivated to learn Japanese, I’m determined.

I wake up in the morning and I look around at all the Japanese books and memorabilia in my room (I don’t go on a tour, it’s everywhere so I can’t avoid it) and I instantly remember and inherently understand my passion and reason for learning Japanese. I love it. If you can’t wake up in the morning and remember why you are doing something, stop doing it. Don’t waste your life fighting for a goal that you can’t even remember why you want to accomplish in the first place. If that’s your situation, find a new goal.

After that it’s all about my mental state. I keep my determination as a backdrop to all of my thoughts and feelings, on and off throughout the day. “am I making progress?” “am I learning anything today?” “am I getting better at Japanese today?”

If you really care about learning Japanese, you need to make sure that at the end of each day you know more Japanese than you did when you woke up. That doesn’t mean you have to learn new vocabulary or Kanji every day, but you need to at least be better at what you do know. Does that mean STUDY every day? No, but it does mean come into contact with Japanese EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you share my dream of speaking, reading and writing Japanese like a native, then you understand that this lifetime is not long enough. I’m 21 years behind my native Japanese companions, so I have a lot of catching up to do, and so do you. We can’t afford to waste a single day. Every day that you do not encounter Japanese in some way, undoes two days of hard work. It sucks, but it’s the truth. So move forward, not backward.

Stay motivated. Stay Determined. Japanese won’t learn itself!

Let me know some of your goals and aspirations, maybe we can get a discussion going.  How do you stay motivated?

As always, thanks for reading.


3 responses

  1. Vanessa

    Very enlightening post. Thank you. I’m thinking about starting to learn Japanese since I really like the language, but I’m not sure if I’m ready due to its difficulty and that I’m already learning French. But your post is valid for every language student. Good luck with your language learning process.

    December 20, 2010 at 4:29 pm

  2. Elliott

    Thanks Vanessa! Of course, I am totally in favor of learning Japanese for anyone who want’s to learn it. It is very difficult and very time consuming, but that just makes it all the more rewarding. My recommendation to you is that you keep hold off until you feel comfortable enough with french that you won’t start to forget or become confused by studying two languages simultaneously, assuming that’s a concern of yours. (although those two languages are so different that might not be a problem anyway)

    I’ve thought about studying other Asian languages, but I don’t want to get started until I really feel fluent in Japanese. Also, I used to know Spanish fairly well, but learning Japanese has made me almost completely forget it. lol

    Anyway, I wish you luck, thanks for the nice comment! I hope my blog continues to motivate you!

    December 20, 2010 at 4:45 pm

  3. Vanessa

    Just to let you know I already read it. I didn’t check my old e-mail so I didn’t see the reply, sorry. Japanese and French are so different (and with the amount of free time I have I doubt it would be a problem maintaining two languages at the same time) that it doesn’t matter.
    And thank you. I prefer to read instead of commenting so I hope you don’t mind if I read more than comment. But keep blogging, it’s always nice to read your posts. 🙂

    January 27, 2011 at 9:56 pm

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