Making resolutions at the beginning of the year is a great thing. Unfortunately, too many people make New Years’ resolutions that are difficult to achieve and are easy to abandon. Here are three tips that will help you achieve your resolutions for Chinese.
Study hard, study smart
Learning Chinese (or any language) takes a lot of hard work. And it’s essential to make sure your hard work is leading you towards accomplishing your goals. If you want to learn how to read, then you shouldn’t spend most of your time listening to podcasts. If you’re trying to improve your spoken Chinese, you should be spending time practicing basic pronunciation and listening skills with a tutor (or try out Lingomi). Don’t waste time doing things that are only helping a little–there’s plenty of stuff to study that will help you a lot.
Split your goals into smaller pieces
Make sure to split up your work into smaller chunks so you can see daily progress. For each goal you have, try to define the next step you need to take to achieve that goal. If you’re trying to learn 1000 characters this year, then your next step might be to spend 15 minutes memorizing new characters. After you finish that, your next step might be to spend 10 minutes reviewing old characters. For each little chunk you should have a definable course of action with a conclusion. Finishing one simple task creates a great sense of progress, which keeps you motivated towards reaching your goals.
Redefine your goals
Do you have a way of measuring progress as you work towards your goals? Do your goals have a finish lines? If not, you should consider redefining your goals. There’s no rule that says you can’t redefine your resolutions. Redefining your resolutions into more manageable goals is a great way to sweep the psychic cobwebs out of your mind. Having a clear focus is extremely empowering (and productivity systems like GTD are built on achieving goals by being able to focus on each individual step in the goal). Once you’ve redefined your goals, the path towards reaching them become clearer.
My thoughts on goals
This month, like many people, I took some time to reflect on myself and thought about what I wanted to accomplish in the New Year. I don’t make New Years resolutions, per se–I find I break them too easily. Instead, I choose two or three words that I want to be the focus of my year and write them down. Throughout the year, I’ll look at them every once in a while. They serve as reminders on how I can change my behavior everyday in small ways. Just seeing them makes me think about my current situation is usually enough to refocus me. By changing my behavior just a little bit, I end up in good position to reach my goals
Setting goals and then working to reach them is extremely important when studying Chinese. That’s why I’ve blogged a bunch about goals (here, and here) and progress before. If you’re studying Chinese, you must have a goal. Without a goal, you’re language study is going to plateau sooner than later, and you might even end up quitting. Don’t quit! Learning Chinese is not rocket science, and over 800 million people can speak Chinese today. You can learn Chinese, too!