I have to stop every once in a while and remind myself that learning a language, especially Japanese, is not something I'm going to complete sometime soon. In fact, it will never technically be complete. Ever. I realize this, but sometimes I still need a reminder. It's like telling your significant other that you love them. They know this (or they should), but it's really nice to be reminded of it.
However, it's also nice to have a reminder every once in a while that you cannot set unrealistically high goals for yourself and expect to meet them. Aim for failure instead, and success becomes that much sweeter when it happens. For instance, I got a question the other day:
"You've been doing Japanese for almost a year now, why aren't you fluent yet?"Really? I'd like to see anyone become fluent in any language in a year. Putting that aside, it still made me think. That nagging inner voice kept asking me, "Well, why aren't you?".
In reality, being fluent after less than a year is unrealistic. I keep reminding myself of this keep myself grounded. When I am grounded, I have traction to move forward.I move closer to fluency in Japanese. Even if just a little. I mean, what's the rush, anyway?
Likewise, if I'm not grounded (or, more concretely, spending more time thinking about being fluent than actually working toward it), I have no traction. No traction means no moving forward.
Any time I've found myself thinking more about the practice of learning Japanese or becoming fluent in it I must remind myself to cast those thoughts aside and focus on the actual game plan. Creating and reaching attainable goals gives the appearance of progress, even though progress in language learning is really nothing more than an arbitrary metric.
Stay grounded. Move forward. Become fluent.
Why are you still reading this? Go study! Go!