Testing... is this mic still on?


好久不見!I know. It's been way too long. My last post was more than a year ago. A lot has changed since then. So let me fill you in quickly.

  • I got a job as front-end developer at Buffer in August 2013.
  • I taught English in Taiwan until end of October 2013.
  • I then travelled with my girlfriend through South East Asia for two months while working from hotels.
  • Moved back to Cape Town in January 2014.
  • Gone through a few failed attempts to revive my Chinese learning.
  • Travelled to New York in September and stayed in Chinatown. Ordered Bubble Tea again and really missed Taiwan & learning Chinese.
  • Trained & ran my first half marathon (this past Sunday actually!)

You might wonder why I mention the half marathon. This year has been an interesting journey. When the year started I knew I wanted to pick up my fitness and set myself a goal way back in January that I want to run this half marathon. I've never been a big runner, but I knew this goal would be good motivation!

My brother helped me set up a good training programme and I stuck to it as much as possible. Often consuming most of my weekends & as a result generated a lot of positive influences in my life: I ate better, went to bed earlier, got fit in the process among many others :)

After having moved back from Taiwan, I've tried really hard to get back in learning Chinese. It's been my passion before, yet the strongest motivation that lead me to learn it in the first place, was that I wanted to live in Chinese speaking country, wasn't there anymore.

I tried to read Chinese books, watch TV shows during lunch breaks and also listen to podcasts while driving around. None of them seemed to have stuck.

So I asked myself: why am I consistent with my running training, but not with learning Chinese?

It took me a while to answer that question.

My initial thought was that running had a clear goal: run a certain distance in a certain time by a certain date. I could measure my progress really easily and the goal was clearly defined.

Although language learning goals can sometimes be a bit more trickier to define, and even if you do find a clear goal, the goal itself won't always produce the momentum and consistency that you want.

Still I questioned, what pushed me to keep running? Sometimes you'd much rather sit in bed than go for another run.

Then two things happened. I saw this video again:

and read this post by Chris on travelling to every country in the world.

Chris released a book called the The Happines of Pursuit. I haven't finished the book yet, but just the idea itself resonated so much in me already. People are consumed by having incredible goals (quests) and want to see how they can push themselves to achieve them! The video of Timothy speaking so many languages made me realize again how much I love languages and reading the inspiration from Chris's concept finally made me able to answer my question.

The reason why I kept to my running training is that:

  1. the goal was something that I really had to commit to, to achieve,
  2. and the process to get there was the fun, motivating and challenging part.

I realized that I was practising and working on many more aspects of myself, rather than just fitness: willpower, self-discipline, planning and more.

I may have lost my original motivation to learn Chinese. But, now my motivation will come from the intrinsic joy of becoming fluent in Chinese. That pursuit of that goal is the fascinating part. What do I have to do and improve in myself to achieve that? I'm super curious to find out what that is!

Already in the past two weeks I've started waking up earlier every day to listen to Chinese podcasts and I'm loving it!

It's really good to be learning Chinese again and I can't wait to share my first goal with you guys. I'll update you guys soon... and it won't be another year :P