Use Way of Life app to track your progress in Japanese

My boss -- and a whole lot of other people -- always says, "If you can't measure it, you can't make it better." Or something like that.

I'd been tracking my progress on paper but these days, there's an app for everything. The Way of Life app (Apple only so far) was mentioned on The Tim Ferriss Show (podcast), and I checked it out. I paid $5 for the premium version and started using it immediately. It's the best $5 I've ever spent.

A quick look at Way of Life 

Way of Life helps you build or break habits. I set up a number of habits I want to build, for example, "read in Japanese for 5 minutes", "learn 36 kanji daily", etc. Then, each day, you check in as having reinforced the habit or not. You can see from this screenshot that I'm just now ramping up (after three weeks of life, including, hosting visitors for a week, taking care of a family member during and after a major surgery, etc. Life happens). 

In this next screenshot, you'll see some of Way of Life app's advanced reporting features (don't worry, I'll turn that trend around). The real joy happens when you look back and you see how well you've been doing and practicing Japanese daily. Of course, the real measure of progress is whatever you've set as your overarching goal, for example, carry on a conversation in Japanese, watch and understand a Japanese television show, etc.

If you're not measuring your activity, you're missing out on hacking your learning progress and understanding what level of effort yields specific results. Perhaps we'll consider that in another post. In this post, I wanted only to share this amazing app.

Success loves failure

失敗は成功の母。Shippai wa seikō no haha. Failure is the mother of success. — 日本のことわざ

We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it for long enough. — Helen Keller

Failure so soon still a success

I’m only days in and already I’ve failed. By Day 3 I had already fallen short on completing one of the tasks on two different days. Days 4, 5, and 6 were worse. I had dropped to only completing about 2 out the 10 tasks.

That’s a failure-focused itemization. It’s okay, but only as long as I truly realize what’s happening: I have studied Japanese every single day for the last five days! That hasn’t happened in more than four months. Additionally, my vocabulary has increased, my comprehension has made small advancements, and understanding of the culture and grammar have improved.

These incremental improvements didn't exist the day before I started this project. That, my friends, is success. In the end, my ultimate, single success of achieving felicity in Japanese will far outweigh any number of soon-to-be forgotten failures along the way.

Remember: the successful outcome of a singular endeavor outweighs a million failures when it comes to language learning. 

Recognize the failures. Learn from them. Appreciate and validate the true success.

Taking steps, L. Cromwell

Make one million language mistakes as quickly as possible

Expect to make a million mistakes learning a new language. Embrace them. Make them as quickly as possible. Because when you’ve done so, you’ll have achieved success.

90 Day Reporting

Rather than clog this blog with daily update posts (as laid out in my 9-point learning plan), I will add daily updates to this post.

The newest update will be at the top of the page, so you won't have to worry about scrolling to the bottom.

Additionally, I have some posts in the works regarding learning tools I'm using, my favorite instructional books, and so on.

Going somewhere, L. Cromwell

Daily Japanese Progress Updates

My spectacular Japanese failure

七転び八起き。Nana-korobu, ya-oki. Fall down seven times, get up eight. -- 日本のことわざ

A failure establishes only this, that our determination to succeed was not strong enough. -- Bovee

I’m not really learning Japanese in just three months

It’s more like six years and three months. After six years of pretending to study and learn and practice Japanese, I've decided it’s time to take real action, now. Thus, the three month goal to push

Why three months? What’s my motivation?

  1. Because I am best motivated by pressure (pain).
  2. I’m exhausted of fooling around with the language and not having any significant, recent progress (more pain).
  3. I chose not to spend much time on my existing languages—Spanish, Portuguese, and ASL—and now I’m really rusty at those. So I want to brush up on those again (just a little more pain). Thankfully, they’ll come back quickly.
  4. I want to move on and learn a new language, something easier next: I’m hoping it’s German (pleasure).
Aside: I know I'm not the only person who is more motivated by pain than pleasure. That will be my next blog: Transformational Motivation. I jest.

The path to success, L. Cromwell

That's not to say that I haven't learned a thing or two over the years. I can read and write kana, and I read smoothly as long as the text contains yomigana, or furigana.

About Meeting with Japan

学問に近道なし。Gakumon ni chikamichi nashi. There is no shortcut to scholarship. -- 日本のことわざ

"Felicity, not fluency of language, is a merit." -- E.P. Whipple

Meeting with Japan is about the journey of experiencing Japan via language primarily, but also culture. During the course of this journey, the approach is simple: I do not strive for perfection, nor fluency, but felicity.

As it turns out, felicity takes "hard" work. Thankfully, learning languages brings joy.

Since all the answers to all the questions in the world are not mine to possess, I make no claims at being a language-learning prodigy. I am not. Therefore, I look forward to exchanging ideas, experiences, and knowledge with whoever should pass through these parts.

My name is Ronnie Ledesma, and I'm a language learner like you (you speak at least one language you enjoy to one degree or another). I'm married with seven beautiful children for whom I'm the promised guardian. I live in Sacramento, CA and work as a marketing professional, providing specialized services and training for micro-businesses and mom and pop shops. I'm a dreamer, a lover of peoples and their cultures, and relentlessly hopeful.


I always respond to tweets. Can't say that for email so much. So, please, tweet me at @RonnieLedesma.


Feel free to share and use all and any content on this blog as you see fit (not that you'll want to or that there's anything here that's worthy, but just in case).

If you'd be so kind to link back to posts or cite me as the source, I'd appreciate it much. If you don't... oh, well, life goes on. 

To be perfectly clear: I hereby waive all claim of copyright on this work. It may be used or altered in any manner without attribution or notice to me.

And in case you're wondering why, here's why -- and I feel the same. Cheers.