Hey, long time no…Blog? Sorry, that’s the best word I could think of that would fit in that sentence. So yeah, it’s been about a month since I last updated this blog. There was a lot going on in the last month, with university finals on here in Australia. They’ve been over for about 2 weeks now, thank god. But was that why I wasn’t blogging for the last month? No not really, I think studying for exams would only take up around 5% of the reason I basically just disappeared for a month. I don’t really take university that seriously at all anymore, at least compared to what I did a year or two ago. So what is the remaining 95% of the reason? Unrealistic goal-setting.
So what do I mean about unrealistic goal-setting? To put it simply it’s raising the bar on something way too high way too fast. And I couldn’t be more guilty of it in multiple areas of my life. To give you an example of what I mean, it’s like when one of your friends or acquaintances goes on a diet. We all know people like this, and we’re all probably people like this ourselves. So how do people usually start a diet? Do they start slowly tapering bad foods out of their existing ‘bad’ diet each week? Or work out how many calories they consume a week and then slowly reduce that amount over the next few months? I don’t know many people who do. They kick things off in super hard-mode. They want results and they want them fast. And there’s nothing strange about that desire at all. If you could choose between having $100 today and a $100 next week you’re probably going to take the first option, right? The only way someone might be able to entice you to wait is to increase the amount you’d receive next week while keeping the amount you receiving instantly constant. To re-state that in terms of a diet, why aim to lose 5 kilograms in 6 months when you could lose it in 1?
The answer is actually very simple…
The chances are very good that you are just going to burn yourself out. I’ve been down this road dozens if not hundred of times with different pursuits. Trying to learn other languages, trying to learn a style of dance, trying get to a certain body fat level, trying to get a certain grade at university…The list just goes on and on. Out of the hundreds of things I’ve tried to succeed at during my life up until now there is only one thing I feel I’ve made any measurable progress in: Japanese. And I’m actually surprised about that because I started my first real attempt at learning Japanese(no I’m not talking about classes or textbooks I did plenty of that during the preceding 3 or 4 years) around a year and a half ago. And yes, I started the exact same way I would with anything: in hard-mode from day one. I would sit in my room alone and consume the language for 8 to 13 hours a day. This practice continued for around 6 months. Did I get what I wanted in the end? Yes I’m now relatively fluent in the language. But could I have approached the exercise in a better way? Yes, I definitely could have.
When I started off it was horrible. I’d study so much that even when I was sleeping I was studying subconsciously. Everyday was filled with wanting to attain something in 24 hours that some people can’t attain in a majority of a life-time: native fluency. I’d make a mistake with how a character was read or a word was pronounced, or I’d be reading a book and get to a word that I’d heard 2 days ago but didn’t remember the meaning of and I’d think: “Why am I so bad at this? Why can’t my brain remember more? Why do I keep forgetting things? Why aren’t I improving? Why can’t I be a native speaker now?”. And by the way over a year has a passed and I by no means think that I’m anywhere close to being a native speaker in the language. Fluency and Native Fluency are two largely different concepts that I think a lot of people who don’t dabble in languages get majorly confused – but that’s a discussion for another time. The point is that I wanted results too fast. And I think that I finally had an epiphany about this around a week ago. For the last 7 or 8 months I’ve been pursuing something other than Japanese, and I’m not going to write what it is but it’s really just the same old pattern again. I’ll usually spend 8 or more hours a day working at it and it’ll usually end up creeping into my dreams and stealing some significant amounts of restful sleep from me. So what am I trying to recommend with all of this talk about my misguided desire for instant gratification?
Slow and steady wins the race!
How many times have you heard that line now? I couldn’t keep track of how many times I’ve been told this by someone and it’s taken me 21 years to fully understand the meaning of it and what a great piece of advice it actually is. This is what I am going to do with this blog from now on. I’m going to take things slow and this blog is going to go somewhere because of it. I was actually thinking about quitting with it all together but every week what I can only really describe as a little voice in my head was telling me to come back to it. I think I mainly wanted to quit it because the idea of trying to write 3 or 4 articles a day again and translate ridiculous amounts of things horrified me. So I sat down and I decided to do what I’ve been doing with my other projects lately: dissect it in to small pieces. So no, I’m not going to write 3 or 4 articles a day anymore. I’m just going to aim for one, or even half of one. I’m going to write when I’m moved to instead of just purely writing to try and increase traffic. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to translating, maybe I will and maybe I won’t. Right now I don’t even want to focus 90% of my energy into this blog. There’s something else I want to do with my time. But, I do want to focus around 5 or 7% of my time on it. And I’m happy to. I never fell out of love with writing things, I just fell out of love with the unrealistic expectations that I had been putting on myself to produce things. Anyway, stay tuned and we can go back to talking about Japanese drama again in the coming weeks – at a realistic and manageable pace.