Notes from a Floating Life Thoughts about productivity, digital living, and leading a simpler life

Methods and Goals

An archery target

We tend to view methods, goals, motivation, and commitment through the filter of our own experiences. Through the lens of our own motivations, our own goals, and our own needs. But those experiences, motivations, goals, and needs aren’t the same for everyone.

Let’s say you’re not doing something to the same level as someone else. What you’re doing, and how you’re doing it, doesn’t invalidate it. And you shouldn’t let their opinions and scorn cloud your goals.

Yes, I wrote scorn in the previous paragraph. There’s a lot of that in the online world. The offline world, too. Far too often I’ve read comments like If you’re not doing xyz for three hours or more a day, you’re not serious about it. Maybe not. But does that mean you shouldn’t do xyz? Of course not!

Take, for example, language learning. I don’t want or need to become a polyglot. Or even fluent in a language. Whenever I need to gain some ability with a language, my goal is to pick up some situational knowledge for a trip. Because of that, I don’t have time to passively listen to and read a language to soften it up, as some self-described linguists and glots on the web advocate. Instead, I go with the minimum viable amount of the language I need to get by. I actively listen and try to speak immediately. I don’t worry about being able to read a novel or a newspaper. I don’t worry about understanding a movie or a TV show. I try to learn the words and phrases that that will help me get by, to learn to read signs at stations and airports, to read a menu. That sort of thing.

In that respect, I follow something akin to the philosophy behind the audio-lingual method. That method probably isn’t the best for learning a language to fluency or mastery, but it’s great for quickly learning the basics. It fits in with my goals, which will differ from your goals and the goals of others.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. This applies to fitness, programming, or any pursuit: think about yourself and your goals. No one else’s.

Do what you need to do to fulfill your goals, to do what you need and want to do. Don’t adopt or internalize the goals and attitudes of others. Those goals are probably not for you, anyway.

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