Goals vs. Enjoying Yourself

I enjoy studying language.  I enjoy decoding all the strange new word combinations.  I enjoy it when once strange and difficult grammar situations become second hand.  I enjoy getting deeper and deeper into a culture through it’s language.

I realize that to be good at anything, not only language, you have to spend time on the particular skill or goal you want to accomplish and you also have to be motivated.  You have to make realistic goals, that will at the same time challenge you and make you stretch yourself.  I think most people would say that it’s important to set goals for something you want to achieve, I certainly think so, I maintain an entire blog that concerns my overall goals.

So what’s the fuss then?  Well here’s my problem as it pertains to language: I love it all too much.  The languages I’m studying now are Polish, Spanish and French, theoretically in that order.  However, I find myself on Lingq practicing German, I find myself playing with the Hindi Teach Yourself books, and the Japanese Assimil and Michel Thomas.  Just playing!  I like to do it, so I already know to some extent I will always do it.

What do you think?  By sticking to your goals you’ll have a better result in those languages that you’re studying, but if you’re enjoying yourself then you’re enjoying yourself.  There just isn’t enough time for both.  How do you balance that?


2 Responses to “Goals vs. Enjoying Yourself”

  1. 1 John B. August 28, 2010 at 2:22 am

    I totally understand what you’re saying about the playing thing. I’ve been doing this myself for 15 years! Throughout that time, I picked up and put down German, French, Dutch, Japanese, Portuguese, Latin, Italian and lately I’ve added Russian, Chinese and Korean. I really only have very limited knowledge of all of those languages, although I was quite happy (as was my wife) that I was able to get around in Holland, Germany and France with the amount of German, French and Dutch that I had picked up.

    Throughout the years, I may have picked up and put down all of those languages many times but I always stayed focused, although in a somewhat blurry fashion, on learning Spanish and more Spanish. I am now working in Mexico, although I live in Las Vegas and I am quite capable of carrying out all my business in Spanish. I work for a Japanese company and I am sure that my ability to interact with Mexican customers in their own language is a big part of why they keep paying me.

    So I don’t get uptight about goals or progress as I am confident that my ability in Spanish will continue to improve and I am making small headway in many of the other languages I like to “play” with. Life is too short for me to be beating myself up over what I should or could be doing if I was more disciplined and I don’t have the time or patience to spend my time living for some future state of enlightenment or accomplishment. Would I like to get better at Japanese? Sure, but at what cost? The cost/progress ration for me must be in favour of enjoyment over super learning speed. I have to keep a balance in my life and speaking of which, now my wife wants me to join her for dinner so I gotta go. Bye!

  2. 2 Christopher Sarda August 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for commenting John, yeah it’s obvious that we have allow a certain amount of time for ‘play’. I guess I have my two main languages and I’ll work on those, then I’ll always have the ones I want to know and work on later. I guess I can save those for rainy days…. 🙂

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It should be noted that these are Polish words known.

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