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How Unnecissary Discipline will Kill Your Japanese

Thu Jul 19 2012
Alright, we all knew this may happen at one point or another. You've fallen off the wagon. Probably while it was moving at a good speed, too. You're likely bruised from the fall, and stumble back to your feet after a few minutes. Time to get back on and pick up where you left off. Surely, though, there must be some form of self-punishment for failure, for not sticking with it, right? An extra review maybe? Perhaps forcing yourself to listen to more talk radio because you think that may help catch you up. After all, falling off the wagon means we've missed out on distance toward our goal we could have had, right? Truthfully, yes. Those missed reviews have cost us some distance, some time, some Japanese fluency. So what? Similar to sleep, you cannot make up for lost time, lost reviews or lost distance (lost Japanese). In fact, attempting this can have the opposite effect. Before we move on, let's examine this a bit deeper. First, it's completely natural to want to fix or compensate for mistakes. It's human nature to guilt yourself into fixing something, even when it can't truly be fixed. We want to fix, repair, rebuild and continue. It's what we do. That being said, it's not always what we should do. Take, for instance, the previous example of losing sleep. It can never be made up, so why bother trying? You're literally wasting your time trying to obtain something impossible. Instead, why not try going to bed when you're supposed to next time? Trying to compensate for lost Japanese time is much the same. Trying to fix a fall off the wagon will lead to more falling off the wagon. After a while, it's going to be painful. After all, falling hurts, man. So, stop falling. Start balancing better instead. Forget about the past - what is done is done. Look forward instead by doing Japanese. And, by this, I mean at a normal pace - not a 'holy crap now I'm behind, better speed up' pace. Why keep looking at something you can't fix? Use it instead as a tool to guide you forward. Ultimately, the fix for falling off the wagon is to continue in the right direction by simply doing Japanese. Anything Japanese, in any quantity. Touch on it a few times throughout the day if that is all you can do. It's  certainly better than repeat wagon-falling. Don't focus on fixing the problem, or how to fix it, just focus on moving forward with Japanese. That being said, don't you have some Japanese to do? :)