One word to sum up all of Japanese learning. Probably not going to happen. But an acronym? I can handle that (or at least try). What covers the most essential aspects of learning Japanese that will get you to fluency? What are the pillars?
There is nothing more powerful than motivation. This is the beginning and the end of everything you do. Without motivation you lose. Without motivation you never start. This is the single most important aspect of your studying. Find your goals. Find your motivation.
You must want (yearn) to learn Japanese. If this isn’t a passion of yours, a rage of yours, you’ll never stay through the rough storm over the years. Your yearning has to overpower your tiredness. It has to overpower your frustration. It has to overpower every time you feel like giving up.
Time is all powerful. It is your fuel. You choose where and how to spend it. It is a limited resource, but if you use it effectively, and don’t make excuses, you will win. As long as you spend the time, you one day will be fluent. It’s just a matter of the natural course of events.
I don’t care how you study, what tools you use, or what you believe works. Immersion (or putting all forms of Japanese media into your life) is an absolute. Textbooks only take you so far. It’s immersion that takes you to the end. It’s immersion that gives you real ability.
How you think about studying Japanese affects how well you will do. Constant negativity and complaints? Dead-end. Being positive and believing that you absolutely have the power? Finish line. Japanese is not impossible. It’s difficult, but if you don’t believe you can do it, you won’t win, ever.
Japanese is a long game. You are going to adjust your method in all different ways, but if you don’t do what works in a somewhat efficient manner, it will take too long to get to where you want. The longer it takes to achieve your goals, the more power you need. Everything doesn’t need to be efficient. You do what you like. But if you aren’t doing anything efficient at all, you are in for a difficult journey.
That’s the message I try to convey here on this site. I didn’t go into any specific tools, resources or strategy, because there is too much variation in what people do. But the above six elements? You are going to have to deal with them sooner or later.
Remember the acronym, and go forth and dominate.