Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Fun of Hubris

Have you ever bitten off more than you can chew?  You know that choking feeling when you do that?  And how people facepalm since you straight up told them that you were going to do it?  Yeah, that feeling.  It's not pleasant, is it?  You start to wonder if people think you're incompetent, especially after the seventh time you do it.

Maybe you said you would run a marathon three months from now, yet currently can't run a mile.  Is there the possibility if you making it?  Of course.  But the odds are against you.  Weather will keep you from training.  Excuses will flow.  Injuries will happen.  By the time of the marathon, you can only run a few miles.  This was me three years ago.  While I completed a 10k (I ran two thirds of it and walked the rest), I had originally signed up for the marathon.

So what did I do now?  I'm not sure if I mentioned it here, but I had planned to move to Japan one year from now, though work, and live there for two to three years.  To do this, I would need to have a high level of Japanese.  Could it be done?  Of course.  Can it be done while working full time?  Yes, but it would be difficult. How about when you have a history of burning out from trying to learn the same language too fast in the past.  Well...

Even with me moving my planned transfer to next summer, it wouldn't be enough time.  I'm still at a beginner level in Japanese and would need to be at least at the upper end of the intermediate level to really have a chance at getting a role at my company's Tokyo office.  There is a test given by the Japanese government, the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, the JLPT, which is broken into five levels.  I had planned to work toward the N4 level test, the second easiest, for this summer.  There is an online test I can take, one that isn't an official test but is still well regarded, that I would have taken in the fall to see if I should take the N3 or N2 level tests when it's offered in December.  I would have taken the online test again in the spring to see what level I would be at for the summer JLPT.

Ah, hubris, my good friend.

I've been learning Japanese for a couple of years.  You do recall me saying how I'm at a beginner level, right?  I've burnt out multiple times over the years.  Months could pass before I picked it back up again and restarted my studies.  I guess that didn't humble me enough.  I think I have always pushed too hard and too fast.  Being in my mid-30's, I want to enjoy the results of something.  And so I wasn't smart about getting to the finish line first.

I have actually fallen behind in my studies already.  While I'm catching up, I have so long to go and so much to learn, that I know I'll fall behind again.  Falling behind is what caused me to burn out last time.  If I burn out, I'm done.  Because of that, I need to slow down.  I have too many things going on and it's causing me to fail.  I can't keep learning multiple kanji a day, multiple vocabulary, grammar points, reviewing all of the above, listening to Japanese, practicing speaking...  With my full time job, I just have too much going on.

Hubris is a humbling experience.  Or at least it should be.  Until this point, I've been ignoring it, and have paid the price of wasted time and effort.  By continuing to do this, I'll accomplish nothing.  I have enough time left in my life that I can afford to slow down.  By learning fewer kanji and vocab each day, I'll have fewer to review.  That should make life easier.  I'll get there one day, I'm too stubborn to do otherwise, but that day will be further into the future.

I will one day pass the JLPT N1 exam.  I will one day spend time in Japan and speak with the locals in their own language.  My pace may be slower, but it's a lot more steady.  With such a weight off my shoulders, I can stand taller and see further.  And what I see is Japan.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Strategy for General Life Planning

I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about what to do with my life.  I’ve come up with and tried several strategies throughout the years, written out in several hundred pages of text.  Each and every time, I’ve come up with some good ideas and yet I never seem to be able to follow through with them.  However, I have used these strategies to good effect when helping others.  Let’s look at my latest life planning strategy. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

College Prep: Class Selection Strategy Guide

I was a college student for eight years.  The first thing you might assume is that it took me that long to graduate with a Bachelor degree.  A lot of people think that, so I usually just put it out there.  Unfortunately, that can sound like I'm bragging, when I'm just trying to state a fact to avoid a misinterpretation.  In those eight years, I earned two minors, two majors, and a Mastery.  Now it sounds like I put my time to good use, but I actually could have had all that in seven years.  For this guide, I'm going to assume that you've already chosen one or more majors and zero or more minors.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Challenge - Day 25 - Half of Phase 1

I have been looking forward to writing this all week.  I have been through 25 days of trying to find time to work on my Japanese, and have barely made it some of the time.  One night, I was up until 2 AM.  I've been spending 2-3 hours a day on this.  In these 25 days, I've moved from version 1 to version 1.3.1 of the Challenge.  Has it been worth it?  Very much so.  Just 675 days to go.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Motivation

What's my motivation?  Why do I want to put myself through such an intense two (and more!) years of learning the art and science of Japanese translation?  Am I truly insane?  Don't I have anything better to do?  What about the other parts of my life?  Don't I want to do anything other than work and learn?

These are questions I am starting to hear as I talk more about my journey to learn Japanese.  What most people don't even know yet is that the Two Year Challenge is only the beginning.  I couldn't do translation work after only the Challenge.  It's only the first step (or series of steps).  The real work starts afterward.

As I mention in the comments of my Challenge page, I have a four/six year program set up in my mind.  I haven't articulated it here yet, but I will one day.  The Two Year Challenge simply sets me up for the rest of it.  Hints on what I am working toward do appear here and there, though.  And did I mention that the two years after the Challenge will probably be more difficult?

So why am I putting myself through all this?  The answer largely lays here.  Please take a moment to visit the link and have a read.  This and the others on this site are a major source of motivation for me.

I choose to sweat now in order to avoid bleeding later.  I also want to get through this before I turn 40, though that's a little ways away, yet.  If it does become a six year plan, though, I'll be kissing the 40 mark. 

Oddly enough, I find even more motivation from two people younger than me.  The first is known as Astronaut Abby.  Abby will become one of the first astronauts to land on Mars.  Yes, I believe in her enough to be that certain.  Watch her Ted Talk and see why:

The second is even younger, but is equally motivated as Abby.  She goes by the call sign Blueberry, and also has a bright future ahead of her.  I applaud both of these girls, and have even contributed to the campaigns they mention on their sites.

As I get further into my Japanese studies, I'll create a new page, or change my current Recommended Reading page, to reflect the media that I'm using to expand my Japanese knowledge.  But that's several months to a year in the future.

As much motivation I get from what I listed above, another major source is the occasional comment I get, either here or on the WaniKani forums.  When I hear that others are looking into their own Challenge, it gives me a major boost with my own.  I feel that I can't let them down, not after leading the way a bit.  That is what carries me through the hours of studying that I do.  And I keep a certain thought in the back of my mind:  I can learn anything with enough time and effort.  I cannot and will not quit.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

High Level View of Religion

This post will likely cause a little bit of controversy, despite being very high level and not taking sides in any kind of conflict.  If you are close minded or take offense easily, feel free to skip over this post.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Two Year Japanese Challenge Status: Week One

Well, that was a fun week.  And when I say fun, I mean lots of stress and overtime and more stress at work.  Oh, and I learned some Japanese.

Current status of the Challenge:  Green.

I'm going to keep a weekly update on the overall status of the Challenge both here and on the WaniKani website.  In fact, I might make a page on this blog to give a quick place to check, while giving fewer update posts here.  I'll work on that later.  I'll include overall status, how far I've gotten,  major successes, major failings, and lessons learned.  It'll also include the latest version of the plan itself. 

Lesson 1:  I can count on my WaniKani senpai to keep my motivated.  They're a great bunch to be around, especially for a solo learner like me.

Lesson 2:  Keep track of progress in multiple ways.  I have a chart where I can cross off 700 days of learning, another where I can check off the number of kanji I've covered, and a third where I can mark off each step (kanji, J-E, IMABI, etc) every day. 

Obviously, I'm still in Phase 1 after only a week.  I still have about six more weeks before hitting Phase 2 and watching what little free time I have go sayonara.  So far, not including what Japanese I'll be learning after posting this, I have learned/reviewed 140 kanji.  Some are trickier than others, and I'm reviewing them a lot more than the rest.  I also completed the initial review of the katakana, and will continue to review through Anki for a while.

I think that if I can survive the summer, and get past the current surge at work, I'll be in good shape.  I'm already learning to manage my time a bit better around my current lessons and will adapt to the changing circumstances from work and moving into later phases.

Link to the page.