#6 - Don't Fail to Learn Japanese

Failure Response Techniques

Don’t freak out, but I’ve actually already given you all of the tools that you need to reach a seriously powerful level of Japanese.

Easier said than done, though, right? As such, I think it might help to look at some mental prep, as well.

Preparing yourself for a lot of failures.

Doing anything great means failing again and again. You will probably fail to stick to studying Japanese. I know I did. And maybe you’re expecting me to say, but get up! Push through. Fight-O. Or some other BS about being disciplined. Personally, that kind of stuff just makes me want to quit more. I don’t think that life should be a struggle. And studying shouldn’t be a struggle, either.

When dealing with disappointments, failures, and setbacks, I don’t want to have to turn into a superhuman life coach. Instead, I’d rather take a step back, reflect on my expectations, why they were wrong, and search for a pleasant way I can change that in the future.

Failure Response

I want to share a really great article with you. It’s by Leo Babauta, from Zen Habits. For me, he’s by far the best when it comes to motivation, discipline, habits, and all that good stuff. Here you are, homies… “What I Do When I Fail.”

Developing a Growth Mindset

So a few years ago, I came across this really awesome book:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck, PhD.

In the book, Dweck talks about the mindsets that people have as they approach learning, work, relationships, and, well, life in general. The really interesting thing is that she divides peoples mindsets into two categories: (1) fixed mindsets and (2) growth mindsets.

Dweck puts it this way:

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.

They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.

Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

Teaching a growth mindset creates motivation and productivity in the worlds of business, education, and sports. It enhances relationships. When you read Mindset, you’ll see how.

Here’s a really awesome graphic that illustrates the two:

Reading about Dweck’s two types of mindsets, it was really easy for me to imagine people I know—loved ones in my life that fall into one of these two categories. Some of them have a fixed mindset. Some of them have a growth mindset. And in thinking about those people, I noticed that the ones I respect the most always seem to have a growth mindset.

I’d like to have a growth mindset, too. And I constantly try to remind myself that I can get better. I can learn from mistakes. My favorite thing about Dweck’s book is that she presents these two mindsets like choices. If you want to have a growth mindset, then that option is available to you.

I think it goes without saying, but to learn Japanese, you’re probably going to want to have a growth mindset. Talent might be something that people acquire naturally, but skill only comes from hard work. And, lucky for us, Japanese is a skill. So we can learn it, make it ours.

Anyways, assuming you have that growth mindset, you know that it is theoretically possible for you to master Japanese if you really go for it.

Failure Interview Tactic

Unless you’re some kind of superhuman, you’re going to fail at this at least once. Or at least feel like you're failing. And if you’re anything like me, you’re going to fail at it about a hundred times.

That's OK.

When we do fail, we can give ourselves the Failure Review Interview. It is essentially just a list of questions that you can ask yourself when you run into trouble sticking to your studies, reaching your goals, and all that stressful business.

Failure Review Interview:

  • What did I fail to do?
  • How realistic was my goal? Was it doomed from the start?
  • How can I rework this goal to make it achievable?
  • Why, specifically, did I fail? Lack of time? Lack of motivation? Lack of direction?
  • What were the barriers to achieving this goal?
  • How can I remove these barriers?
  • What is my motivation?
  • What are my habits?
  • What are my excuses for failing?
  • How many of those excuses refer to a lack of resources?
  • How can I replace those resources using resourcefulness?
  • Considering all of these things, how am I going to alter my next attempt?
  • How can I guarantee to be at least 10% more successful in my next attempt?
  • All set? Well, what am I waiting for?

Try going to a cafe or a library. Maybe put on some relaxing music. Then pull out a pen and paper and seriously attempt to answer each of these questions. If you don't understand the root of what's causing your failures, after all, you will be doomed to repeat them.

Also, going to cafes and writing stuff in notebooks is fun. ^_^

Recap That Fool

To recap the course so far…

  • Unit #1 – Checking Yourself Before Wrecking Yourself
    • Decide if you’re really committed to learning Japanese
    • Mentally prep yourself for high volumes of consistent, level-appropriate language exposure
    • Start listening to audio loops
  • Unit #2- First Steps to Learning Japanese
    • Learn about Japanese pronunciation
    • Learn Hiragana
    • Learn Katakana
  • Unit #3 – Learning the Kanji
    • Learn the Meanings of All 2,136 General-Use Kanji Characters
  • Unit #4 – The Power of Vocab
    • Download Anki (you should have already done so in Unit #3)
    • Download the Caveman Convo Deck
    • Download the Vocab Mastery (Sample) Deck
    • Study new cards in these decks whenever you have time
    • Study review cards every single day
    • Take your time, and watch as your vocab skyrockets
  • Unit #5 – Making Sentences
    • Take note of the differences and uses of input and output
    • Start studying grammar using any of the resources listed
    • Start making sentences using online lessons and language exchange
  • Unit # 6 – Failure Response Techniques
    • Prepare for failures
    • Develop a growth mindset

Only one more lesson! Oh how far we have come…

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