Question #2: What Excuses Hold You Back?

“No one ever excused his way to success.” – Dave Del Dotto

An ostrich sitting in the road, blocking a car

Maybe absolutely nothing is holding you back (and that’s why you’re here right now), but chances are there are a few things that you’re either afraid of, or you have a few excuses on why you shouldn’t study Japanese (I know, right! Blasphemy!). But, we’ve all been there, myself included. Anytime you’re making a big change or decision in your life (get used to Japanese language learning as a big life decision, because it is!), “why I should / shouldn’t do this” thoughts start popping in your mind, totally out of nowhere. No matter how rational (or irrational) you are, they’ll come up sooner or later, so it’s best to do a preemptive strike while you’re still excited and ready to go go go.

Here are some possible excuses that could hold you back, though you’ll be figuring out your very own here in just a minute. I just want to give you a little taste of the excuses I hear a lot. If you prevent them before they even pop up, you’ll find yourself in a lot better shape a few months from now when life starts getting crazy and you’re looking for something to cut from your schedule (even if it’s temporary).

1. I’m Too Busy: Boo-hoo-dee-doo. This is probably the most common excuse out there, and I think it’s a terrible one. If you don’t have time, it’s only because your priorities tell you that you don’t have time. If you want to study Japanese, then you’ll make time for it. If you don’t want to study Japanese, then you’ll make time for other things. This is one of the reasons why you thought about your reason for learning Japanese. If you have a reason, and a goal you can work towards, it is likely that your priorities will shift towards studying Japanese. Just by knowing that this excuse exists (and that there’s a good chance it will pop up) will really help you to avoid it later on. Tell yourself right now: “Time isn’t the issue,” and then think about how you’ll make sure that Japanese is a priority (and therefore you can make time for it).

2. I don’t have the money: This is another common excuse. Okay, TextFugu isn’t “cheap,” necessarily, but considering what you can get out of learning a language, it’s not all that expensive either. Even if you can’t afford TextFugu, if you want to learn Japanese you should use something else that is free or you can afford. It won’t be the same… but money shouldn’t be something that holds you back. Here’s some ideas for making some moolah, though, if you need it:

  • You can make enough money by using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to complete small jobs for people.
  • Sell stuff on Craigslist/eBay. I did this recently too. Simplifying your life by getting rid of your “things” is a great way to clear your head, too. It’s difficult at first, but you’ll feel so much better once you get all this stuff off your hands. “Stuff” is distracting and not worth the headache, in my opinion.
  • Ask a friend or relative for an investment (not a handout). If they really care about you, they’ll be excited to help you succeed – just be sure you don’t let them down! (This is also a great way to stay motivated, because you want to show your investor(s) that you’re achieving great things!).
  • Don’t go out to eat once or twice this month. It’s easy to save money if you cook your own food using fresh ingredients, plus it’s healthier too (and when you feel healthy, it’s easier to study!). Put that money towards monthly.
  • Still in high school? I had a friend who’d go buy candy in bulk, then sell them for 50 cents each at school. Not sure if he was supposed to be doing that, but he’d make way more than $20 a month. Now he works at Google. Pretty smart guy.

Anyways, I’m just saying that money shouldn’t be an excuse. No matter what, you should get started (even if it’s not with TextFugu). The sooner you get started, the more you’ll know 6 months from now.

3. I’ll end up burning out or quitting: I hope you don’t! Like I mentioned earlier, TextFugu was built around the foundation of keeping you motivated. Burning out is the most common problem that self-teachers like yourself face, and it happens so easily. You can see how this first chapter is already tackling a lot of those problems, but what are some things that you can do to prevent it yourself, even before it happens? Even just saying “Burning out isn’t a valid excuse” to yourself right now will help prevent this excuse from doing anything to you in the future. It’s funny how your mind works like that!

4. I’m not very good at learning languages: Yet for some reason you’re here, reading this? I don’t know if anyone is actually naturally good at learning languages. Do you know what’s pretty cool? You can learn to become better at learning languages. Very few people are naturally good at anything, to be completely honest. Everyone practices and gets better. You can make a choice to get better at it. On top of that, I’m sure you’ll find TextFugu to be a lot different from any other textbook you’ve tried. It’s way down to earth, easy to understand, and makes things nice and simple. Whenever I’ve had bad language learning experiences, it’s usually been because the resource does a poor job at explaining things (they’re so good at what they’re trying to teach, they have no idea what it’s like to learn anymore!). I hope you don’t let this be an excuse. Every time you try to study, you are getting better at studying, which means you’ll be pro in no time, as long as you’re consistent!

Now it’s your turn, though.

What excuses hold you back? What excuses can you think of that might hold you back in the future?

Task Write down a list of “excuses” that might hold you back. These can be things you’re worried about now and things you think you might be worried about later. Feel free to use some of the excuses listed above if they’re the same. Stick this list on your wall. Remind yourself every day that the excuses up there aren’t valid excuses, so you might as well not think about them anymore (if you need them, they’re written down, so get them out of your head). For the excuses holding you back now, look at them and figure out solutions. Will it really be that bad? I think probably not :)

Now that you have absolutely nothing to fear, it’s time to move on to the next step. You have a few more prep-steps to go, but once you’re done you’ll have laid a really good foundation for yourself and be ready to study some Japanese!

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