We set goals. That’s life. That’s Japanese learning. When we set goals, we want to achieve them. That’s their purpose. While accomplishing a goal is of utter importance, how you actually set a goal can change everything. Do you set your goals high or do you set them low, and which is going to yield the greatest rewards?
The Grand Goals
Before getting into high/low goals, let’s talk about grand goals. These are the ones that encompass your entire journey to fluency. Everyone has them.
1. Become fluent in Japanese
2. Be able to watch TV without subtitles.
3. Be able to read Japanese books.
These are far reaching goals, that regardless of how optimistic you are, you know will take a long time. These goals give meaning to your study.
But they aren’t the typical goals you set with specifics in mind. You can’t really outline and plan a time-frame, especially when you are beginner and you don’t know how you study yet, how long it’ll take, and what’s reasonable for you. Even as you level up, you never accurately know how much is left until you reach your grand goal.
Grand goals need to be broken down into things that you know you can achieve and can measure what finishing them feels like. They turn into specific goals, and can bet set high or low.
Taking the high or low road
Low. I’m going to read one book this month
High: I’m going to read 4 books this month
Low: I’m going to learn 150 flash cards this month
High: I’m going to learn 1,000 flash cards this month
What are the pros/cons of each type?
1. Setting your goal low
+ You are more likely to complete it, which builds confidence.
+ When you complete it, you are likely to do more than you originally planned.
+ Starting is the hardest part of any goal. Starting on a low goal is easier and once you start, continuing is not a problem.
+ Upon completion it is easy to set your next low goal.
ｰ Even if you complete a goal, the results are minimal.
ｰ It takes you longer to reach your grand goal.
2. Setting your goal high
+ You gain more results from achieving it.
+ It keeps you striving for more, and realizing your true potential.
+ It feels rewarding to accomplish a high goal that was a major challenge.
+ Even if you don’t achieve the goal, you may accomplish way more than you thought you could.
ｰ It’s harder to achieve the goal, and you are more likely to delay or quit mid-way
ｰ Not achieving the goal can hurt your confidence and make it harder to set the next goal
Which one is best for you? What, you think I know the answer to that? You have to try both, and see which drives you towards your best studying. Everyone will set goals too high and too low at one (or many) points in their studying. The successful person analyzes which creates the greater chance of success.
In figuring out what works for you, I want you to remember one thing:
Don’t beat yourself up for not accomplishing your goals.
Every month here on Jalup, people set their goals, and some get frustrated and/or disappointed in themselves when they don’t reach them. While you aren’t achieving your specific goal, you are learning how you study, how you can adjust your studying, and what you need to do.
Whether you set a low goal, or a high goal, focus on what you get out of the experience.
Do you set your goals low? Do you set them high? Which has worked better for you?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.