Challenge 1: Goals – What? Why?


What: complete an exercise video every day

  • includes: yoga, aerobics, videos online, exercise DVDs
  • larger goal: do some form of weight lifting and/or muscle toning at least three times a week

Why: I really do not enjoy working out at a gym by myself, so this is a way for me to work towards the larger goal of muscle toning within the comfort of my own home. I chose it as my first goal because I have used the first part of the year building up to being able to comfortably jog 30 minutes (working toward the larger goal “be able to run 30 minutes easily”) and I have taken up boxing (accomplishing the larger goal “pick up a recreational hobby that involves moving my body).


What: track my food intake every day

  • includes: anything and everything that I put into my mouth
  • larger goal: stop over-eating

Why: Tracking has been consistently shown to help people become more aware of the foods they are ingesting, and therefore more picky about what it is that they are putting into their body. More importantly for me, this kind of awareness naturally leads to less over-eating, as one is more conscious of how one’s body feels and when one is full. I feel that my progress in the area of nutrition is currently hindered by how frequently I forget to pay attention to what I’m eating and how it’s making me feel.


What: read 30 minutes a day

  • includes: self-help books, classic novels, informative books
  • larger goal: read more consistently

Why: Any form of information I take in by reading these books will help me either make decisions about how I want to go about achieving these goals, make me a more well-rounded individual, improve my sense of self, or refine my personal values. It also directly addresses one of my larger goals for this category.


What: Use my SRS every day to learn new cards and review old ones

  • includes: studying cards for at least one hour, ideally reviewing all old cards that are due and learning roughly about 50 cards a day
  • larger goal: reach 10,000 sentences in my SRS

Why: Taking into account the sentences that I have reviewed in my SRS so far, I need to learn about 50 new cards a day to reach my target of 10,000 sentences by the new year. Why 10,000 sentences? Here are two great articles by Khatzumoto, creator of Why, Input before Output. It’s important to note that Khatzumoto has since moved on to different methods, but he still uses an SRS (his own), and my method has been working pretty well for me, so I don’t really feel like changing. I’ll probably change either when my method stops working or stops being fun. Why an hour of time? Language learning is about progress, not perfection. Also, it is much easier to go from walking to running than crawling to walking. I am not quite walking yet, so I expect the number of cards I can study in an hour now to be fewer than the number of cards I will be able to study in the same amount of time in November. Overall, I should be able to catch up to my goal of 10,000 sentences and I prefer to at least be consistent rather than hold myself to something that may be unattainable on a given day.


2013: Health and Language — What? Why?


For the year 2013 I have defined my two goals to be health and language. defines these two words as such:

Health – the general condition of the body or mind with reference to soundness or vigor

Language – a body of words and the systems for their use common to a people who are of the same community or nation, the same geographical area, or the same cultural tradition

This is all very well and good, but you may be wondering what I mean by health and language. I feel that the following two quotes sum up my opinion fairly succinctly.

Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind, and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open. BKS Iyengar

To have another language is to possess a second soul. Charlemagne

Good health is an absolute imperative to living a fulfilling life. And, as stated by James Leigh Hunt, “The groundwork of all happiness is health.” As suggested by BKS Iyengar, I also believe that health comes from three major areas: the body, mind, and spirit. For this year I have chosen to focus on the former two, as I feel it is fundamental to have a solid footing in those two areas before one can fully embrace the last. Also, I do not believe I could make any sort of progress if I tried to work on all three at the same time.

To me, maintaining one’s physiological condition comes down to two areas: how one uses one’s body (exercise), and what one puts into one’s body (nutrition). While I enjoy being fairly academic, and I have maintained a healthy amount of learning in my life, I often find my mind unfocused, negative, or in some mad overdrive. Thus, I want to work on calming my mind. My more concrete goals for these three areas (exercise, nutrition, and mind) are the following:


  • be able to run 30 minutes easily
  • pick up a recreational hobby that involves moving my body
  • do some form of weight lifting and/or muscle toning at least three times a week


  • establish a relationship with food that is focused on feeding my physiological needs, rather than my emotional stresses
  • drink water
  • stop over-eating


  • establish a motivating and empowering morning routine
  • read more consistently
  • calm down

My goals for language are much more easily explained. There are, conventionally speaking, four skills to any language: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Two are input oriented (listening and writing) and the other two are production oriented (speaking and writing). Following in the footsteps of and, I plan to take an input-focused approach this year, and then advance to an output-focused approach next year. Thus, my goals for language learning are:


  • reach 10,000 sentences in my SRS
  • be able to understand the news as well as tv programming
  • be able to read at a college-level reading level


As probably expected, this is a much harder question to address than “What?” Although I touched on my reasons for choosing these two areas in the quotes above, there are much more personal reasons for choosing these two areas.


I chose health primarily because my perfectionism often pushed me to abuse the gift that is my body. I treated myself poorly as a way to outwardly prove to the world that I was unworthy as I was clearly visibly imperfect. Pretty messed up, yeah? Now, while I did nothing so extreme as to actually risk becoming unable to reach the perfection that I demanded of myself, I established a very unhealthy relationship with food, created a terribly distorted self-image and perception of self-worth, and talked to myself in a way that was often-times cripplingly negative or devastatingly self-sabotaging.

The first step to any progression is recognizing the problem, and I have come leaps and bounds from the spiral that I had dragged myself into. What I have found is that this relationship with myself is at the core of everything else I do. Thus, it must be my primary focus in a pursuit of a happy life.


As briefly mentioned on the page “Why this Blog Exists,” I have undergone quite a drastic change in location. It just so happens that English is not the primary language where I live now, so it only makes sense that I should learn the local language. More importantly, I believe language acquisition is a beautiful tool to broadening one’s perceptions, creativity, and understanding of the the world. I personally believe the local language is gorgeous in form and structure, melodic, and more than a little bit interesting. Currently, I do not plan on leaving until I have learned the language.