I don’t know about you, but I’m always starting up plans and projects and schemes. There was “the 7 o’-clock bedtime” project (a good book by the way). The “liquid food only project” (would have worked, except for having to clean the stupid blender). And of course, the Japanese immersion project that led to me living in Japan and writing this site.
Have you ever tried to obey someone else’s forced plan or process? If you went to school, your whole life may have been one big forced plan. This is part of why school sucks so hard — you can’t change the way you do things, you don’t even get to decide in the first place, because teacher has made “the syllabus” through the power of the Magical Education Special Sauce that was slowly injected into her bloodstream over several years while at teacher training college and which is now helping her brain to function at “Teacher Level”; she knows better than you, so shut the front door, sit down and do what you are told. Right, and as soon as we get out of school, all we can do is stay up all night playing PlayStation because we’re so violently allergic to scheduling and so-called “discipline” — which, of course, only “proves” that we need school to get us in line.
Have you ever tried to force yourself to obey a plan of your own making? That is, if you can even remember what your plan was — chances are you’ll be wasting so many hours and minutes reading the piece of paper where you wrote down the plan that you’ll have no time left for execution. And, of course, the plan might be so painful that you’ll take the first opportunity to bail. That’s been my experience, at least.
OK, so what is my point? My point is that in all the cases where a project or plan of mine worked, the final version differed (often quite significantly) from the initial idea. As some random Prussian general once said “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy” or something like that.
No project plan survives contact with reality. It must either die or evolve. So don’t even try to burden yourself with this idea that you have to follow your original idea to the letter, you will only hurt yourself. It’s not that you’re lazy or incorrigible or undisciplined — you’re not — it’s just that the plan sucks, at least in part. Learn to accept that your good-looking plans may just have a lot of crappy elements to them, and that it is OK to let go of those elements once they are identified.
For example, when I was first entering Chinese sentences into KhatzuMemo, I wanted Chinese, Bopomofo, Pinyin and Japanese on the “cards”. That was the plan. But bopomofo took quite a while to enter, because I had to convert to it from pinyin. No matter, the plan is the plan, and bopomofo is good for you; you need it to use a cellphone in Taiwan.
But you know what? Converting to bopomofo added so many extra keystrokes and mouseclicks that the amount of actual Chinese I could actually learn per unit time was seriously reduced. So, even as the “we must follow the plan” part of my mind resisted, I decided to axe the bopomofo.
Always remember that your goal is not to follow a plan; your goal is not to obey instructions — yours or anyone else’s. Your goal is to become fluent in a language by any means necessary. Including altering and abandoning your original plans. When it comes to fluency in a language, there is no prize for merely spinning your wheels. No one’s going to be like “Hey, Todd, you suck at Japanese, but BOY do you TRY HARD! And that’s what counts!” — because it doesn’t count!
There are no effort points for doing it the hard, boring, painful, not-working-any-more way. All that ultimately counts is winning the game — speaking, reading, writing and understanding the language. So grab the freedom to do what you want by the huevos, and while you’re at it, take the responsibility for your results as well.
Anyway, have fun!