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Apr 23, 2011

If It's Too Big to Swallow, Cut It Up!

As I said in my post about specializing in Japanese, we too often think of things as wholes. “I want to lose 50 pounds!” or “I want to be able to run 10 miles!” or “I want to learn Japanese!” are all reasonable goals, but if we think about our progress and efforts in terms of that single overall phrase, we'll lose steam and give up within the first week. It's great to make big goals, but goals that are easier to swallow will actually get done!

In terms of making goals, this means that instead of making that single massive goal, you should make a series of smaller goals. Instead of, “I want to lose 50 pounds!” make it, “I want to walk for 20 minutes every day.” Instead of making the massive goal to lose fifty pounds, you instead make a much smaller and clearly defined goal that will move you towards the same product. With a goal like, “lose 50 pounds,” you have no idea where to begin. Do I eat less? Start working out? When do I want to finish this goal? You've got such a large issue on hand that you don't even know what to do. Making a small, clearly defined objective will mean that you can actually get it done.

Moving back into Japanese, this means that you shouldn't be making goals like, “learn all of the kanji” or “add 1000 cards to Anki.” Break up the goals into smaller, manageable servings. “Learn 10 kanji every day,” would be a great way to state your overall goal, because now you've defined a time period, a target number, and – most importantly – you've remained realistic. Every day you know exactly what you need to do in order to meet your larger goal of learning all of the kanji – you just need to learn 10 kanji today. Make it easy on yourself, plainly state what you need to do in order to succeed.

So in your efforts to learn Japanese, keep in mind that everything is made up of smaller parts. If you can't manage something as a whole, then don't! Break it into parts! You wouldn't try to shove an entire sandwich down your throat would you? Of course not! You take a single bite of the whole and grind it up until you can swallow it, then move onto the next bite. Treat Japanese like a sandwich – focus on it one bite at a time.

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1 comment:

  1. Very good advice, even a little change can end up making a huge difference over enough time.