Traditions and willpower

In the course of rearranging and organizing everything in my life, I’ve dusted off some goals and study materials that have been foundering or never even used and started making clear plan lists for using them. My Japanese language plan is the most robust so far; it includes steps for my WaniKani reviews, TextFugu, the collection of study materials I purchased from TheJapanShop, and reading and translating various Japanese-language manga and short stories I own. When I logged back into TextFugu for the first time in months, it reminded me that I had purchased the 30 Day ebook, a system for making oneself a better Japanese learner. So I added that to the list too and read Day 1.

The first day’s assignment is to make a task I dislike into a tradition rather than a chore. The idea is that if you have to force yourself to do something, you’re using mental energy that could be used elsewhere, and the more you can turn tasks into traditions, the more you’ll be able to achieve. I find this extremely interesting.

Since willpower is a finite resource (meaning the batteries only have so much juice before needing a recharge), being able to not use willpower becomes very important especially over time. If there’s a task you do every day with your Japanese, creating a tradition for it will essentially allow you to use your finite willpower to do something else, increasing the amount you can do and get done. Over time this adds up, so there’s no better time to start than now.

The mission is to pick any distasteful task, Japanese-related or not, set a time for it, and make it happen. I’ll probably go with “When I get up, I work out.” I don’t have a problem with doing laundry or the dishes these days…I just sort of do those things. (They’re already traditions!) But working out has always been a struggle. If I can turn that into something I just do, I bet I’ll feel a lot better about doing it, and I’ll have mental energy left over for other tasks.

I hope I haven’t chosen too difficult a task to turn into a tradition.

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