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Bad Goal, Good Goal

Animaniacs started it. We’re going to finish it. Bad goal, good goal.

  • Bad goal: Skate for N hours/day
  • Good goal: Show up at rink
  • Even better goal: Put on skates
  • Better still: Leave house with gear
  • Bad goal: Skate N hours/year
  • Good goal: Show up at rink N times/year
  • Bad goal: Practice puck-handling for N minutes
  • Good goal: Touch stick 1
  • Bad goal: Write N words per day
  • Better goal: Write N sentences per day 2
  • Good goal: Open writing program.
  • Extra goal: Mash keyboard.
  • Bad goal: Do N SRS reps/day
  • Good goal: Open SRS
  • Bad goal: Learn N kanji/day
  • Good goal: Open kanji book 3
  • Bad goal: Reach position X by time T
  • Good goal: Exit house at time S
  • Bad goal: Eat healthy food
  • Good goal: Only have healthy food in house
  • Bad goal: Only watch Japanese stuff
  • Good goal: Only have Japanese stuff to watch
  • Bad goal: Read N pages of Japanese/day
  • Good goal: Have a Japanese book:
    1. inside every bag and
    2. within arm’s reach of every seat and bed in the house
    3. yes, for our purposes, “seat” includes your car; it’s the moving part of your house 😀
  • Bad goal: Copy out N pages of Japanese text per day
  • Good goal: Have Japanese book, pen and paper ready

Don’t be the best. Be good.
Don’t be good. Be prolific.
Don’t be prolificBe present.
Show up.


  1. No, I won’t bite. Don’t even…No…
  2. Words are an inelegant way of measuring textual output and require mental acrobatics that produce verbose, belabored, over-massaged text. Even an inflated sentence count will probably not be bad thing, because it will result in shorter sentences, which rarely do more damage than unnecessary verbiage, and are often a very good thing, since so many people’s sentences seem to run on unnecessarily; I’m not trying to be autological here, I’m just sayin’.
  3. or website

  20 comments for “Bad Goal, Good Goal

  1. Jimmy
    August 1, 2011 at 13:21

    This mentality has always been my favorite part of AJATT. I just love the idea of setting up the environment and having it, in essence, do the work for you, without you even realizing it. It makes everything seem so easy. Also AJATT is awesome. 😀

    • Mei3
      August 5, 2011 at 00:01

      You said it best! One of the biggest tips to change in 夢をかなえるゾウ was to make physical changes to your environment. According to the book, the human will is weak, so anything that doesn’t physically help you, won’t last for long. Availability is one thing. But distractions are another.
      こんなことに興味があったら、 ぜひ「夢をかなえるゾウ」を読んでみてください。 ずいぶん面白い本で、 読めば読むほど読みたくなります。

  2. ライトニング
    August 1, 2011 at 13:30

    These days we always have Youtube, which makes only having japanese stuff to watch a little harder, but I still beat the occasional temptation of watching some HouseholdHacker or AVGN.

  3. August 1, 2011 at 14:03

    Awesome. Simply awesome.

    I wonder if someone were to simply set up a trial where all their goals were changed to this format. Food for thought, possibly for myself. And by that, I mean: I’m going to trial this. Perhaps for a week, even for a month. To see where I get, or better: Where I arrive.

    • August 2, 2011 at 08:16

      In practice, it begins to look very simple. All you have to do is set up the environment to where you can’t leave the goal without fighting tooth and nail. My main ideas on how to set up this environment:

      Have Japanese on or by you when you wake up
      Have nothing but Japanese to do when you wake up, first thing in the morning
      (this will then carry on throughout the day)

      You then sprinkle any other of these “environment-manufactured goals” that you want to happen(specific to me), like exercise, practicing music, reading books, doing homework, learning physics:
      (Exercise)Put on shoes, Go outside
      (Music)Hold guitar. Play Youtube videos of music you’d like to learn while having guitar in hand
      (Reading books)Always have books around you. Have books open at all times. Put audiobooks in your car.
      (Doing homework)Always have homework near you. Always have textbooks open.
      (Learning Physics)Only have open in your browser. Always have some Physics books open. Put yourself in an environment with only physics books, videos, courses, etc.
      (Now that I think about this, I think it would be an interesting experiment to set up culture-environments or goal-environments as specific areas in your house that you just walk into and experience. Then your only goal would be to walk in and sit down.)

      Then at the end of the day, by your bedside, you have all your Japanese stuff. Always have Japanese books in reach. Always have Japanese open and ready to activate. Leave Japanese on till the morning…

      You see what I’m getting at.

      • ブライアン
        August 2, 2011 at 09:26

        Regarding guitar, I can say from personal experience that just having one in the room is enough. For two years now, I’ve spent (almost) every evening within arm’s reach of a guitar. I rarely play for more than fifteen minutes at a time, but I end up playing a lot more than the guy who sets apart an hour a day. As a result, I’m also a lot better than the guy who practices one hour a day. (‘Cept my stamina sucks, but that’s another issue entirely.)

        Seems to me that whatever’s in arm’s reach of your bed is what you get good at.

  4. ライトニング
    August 1, 2011 at 14:16

    Bad goal: Use a japanese operating system
    Good Goal: Only have a Japanese operating system to use.

    Gonna install Windows 7 Japanese And give my brother the reinstallation disks for Vista, he’s going off to college soon and I know for a fact I won’t be getting them back. :)

    • ライトニング
      August 2, 2011 at 08:50

      Formatting and Installing Windows 7 Ultimate Japanese now. Hope nothing goes wrong 🙂

  5. L
    August 1, 2011 at 15:34

    Nice. Im gonna use this paradigm to teach to my private students.

  6. guy
    August 3, 2011 at 02:05

    very inspiring

  7. angel13
    August 3, 2011 at 07:43

    I have a question, khatz. What if I can’t put Japanese everywhere? I live with 4 other people, 3 of which have the right to boss me around because I am only 16. If I tried to have books in every room or listen to music without head phones or watch Japanese I get chewed out about it. Got any suggestions? I was also wondering how to get so materials for cheap because I don’t have a job (yet). I have tried eBay and while they have some good stuff they don’t always have what I want. Is there a good site I could get se cheap stuff like eBay? Or will I be stuck with eBay? Thanks in advance for any advice and sorry for the long post!!!

    • August 3, 2011 at 07:51

      Ah there’s sites like d-addicts where you can get some dramas. Although I’d recommend you to support and purchase it but it seems you are tight on $ since you don’t have a job.

      If you can’t put Japanese everywhere, do as much as you can to your environment. For example, put Japanese books in your bag (hopefully the other 4 don’t mind) I guess headphones are the only way or maybe compromise with the other 4 and strike a deal.

      Just make sure you have Japanese pumping into your ears, seeing Japanese. Just remember, “any Japanese is better than none”

    • ライトニング
      August 3, 2011 at 08:38

      I tried to hide it from my parents for the first few months, but realized it was no use, and they have adjusted to it now, but man, i was just really scared of their judgment. What I did was I would wear sports-ish sweatshirt (Made of polyester Or something、And made a little pocket on both sides of the zipper out of duct tape, and could stash in 2 Mangas into each 🙂

      I prefer to use headphones so i can block out the other sounds, but in my room, i just use the speakers of my PC.

      I watch most of my Shows on my phone or PC. I found torrents of old animes that can’t be bought (2003-2005) All episodes, And i put them on my android phone, and there we go.

      I spend a lot of time in my room, so i prefer to watch my movies there, just roll my chair back and watch.

      As for the price issue (i have even a worse financial situation to you
      😛 ) I buy a A good amount of my stuff like games and my OS, but After that i am a little low on funds and have to resort to COUGHBITTORRENTCOUGH。

      If you don’t want to do that though, I can’t give much advice to you then

    • ブライアン
      August 3, 2011 at 09:29

      1. Just do Japanese wherever you can. If you can’t listen to and look at Japanese 24/7, that’s okay, just get as close as you can. Every bit helps. If it causes friction with your family, just explain (calmly) that you have a goal and are doing what is necessary to reach it.

      2. Get a job. Yes, it’s not always easy, but nothing beats being able to get what you want when you want it. (Minus shipping/customs time, obviously.)

  8. August 11, 2011 at 10:12

    I’m always looking at something in English and I there’s a pile of books next to my computer.
    I like to leave the radio on to listen to the latest hits… in English, of course. Oh, and I’ve pretty much gotten rid of everything I owned that’s not in English. 
    Hopefully it’ll help me improve. 🙂

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  10. October 7, 2011 at 13:52

    Love this post, so much is just about getting started.

  11. February 25, 2012 at 06:29

    I wanted to add something to my last comment–most of the stuff I said in my first comment is true and I still do it BUT I found that timing myself is a very, very bad idea. I still think that giving yourself mini-goals like “frickin learn one word a day” is good, but worrying about it isn’t.

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