What’s The Rush?

Achievement is no longer good enough. In American culture, you must achieve within a rapid period of time. Become fluent in a language in three months. Become a PUA in a weekend. Get a six pack in six weeks. Start a successful internet business in a month. Learn muay thai in one month. Instant results! Life hacking! Pareto rule! And so on.

Language learning has become especially distorted. What is the point of language? To communicate with human beings on a deeper level than animals, but instead of learning how to meaningfully connect with others, people want to simply say they “speak” a language, a feat that they can add to their Facebook or Couchsurfing profile. What they’re doing is no different than cramming for an exam. By the time they give up, which they will, their brain will quickly forget what they’ve learned.

I learned Spanish the least optimal way possible, by buying a 60-year-old grammar book I found on Amazon for $5. I went through it at a snail’s pace, did Pimsleur occasionally, listened to some reggaeton, and only practiced when English wasn’t available. It took a year in South America until things started to click, when I was learning without consciously learning. Because I learned organically, with no time goal, most of it has stayed with me. Give me a month and I’ll be back to my previous level.

Compare that to my experience learning Polish. I took some advice from the internet language gurus and stacked the flashcard program Anki with 1,000 words. I learned 20 new words a day for a month, pushing my brain to the limit. Polish people speak English so I had to contrive situations to speak Polish. By the end of two intensive months, Anki said I “knew” about 500 words. Fast-forward seven months later, and I can’t even tell you 20 Polish words off the top of my head. They are gone because I rushed the process by using a method that humans don’t use to naturally learn languages. In the meantime, I neglected the fun of learning one word at a time and then using it in a live situation, all so I could convince myself I memorized 500 words.

A lot of guys do the same thing with game. They decide on 10 approaches a day and then after a month they get burned out, because what they essentially did was spam game, cramming like I did with Polish. They would have been better off if they did just one approach a day for a year. Their learning would have been sustainable and turned into a habit. They would have carefully analyzed all their approaches. The occasional surge is welcome, especially when your crave an intense experience, but otherwise what’s the rush? Are you an impatient child that begs for a new toy, only to get bored of it after an hour, or do you want a new skill to be part of you for years to come? Is your hobby true or is your hobby trying out hobbies?

Don’t cram for your goals. Take your sweet time so you enjoy the process that it takes to arrive at something you want, because if you don’t enjoy the process, I promise you won’t stick with it. In fact, taking a long time to reaching your goal is a built-in check to finding out if you truly want it or not, because if you must accomplish it fast, that means it’s not something that you want to make a part of your life. You’re setting a fast goal to motivate you because the actual process doesn’t fit your nature. You just want to say you did it, so you can brag to others that you hit the goal.

You should enjoy each approach, regardless of your game level. You should enjoy each workout, regardless of your body size. You should enjoy learning each new foreign word, regardless of how bad your vocabulary is. There’s no rush. Take your time and enjoy your hobby, because the goal should just be the afterthought, something you may even occasionally forget.

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