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Key to Korean #5: Plan it, but don’t write your plan in stone


By now, you should hopefully have:

  1. A passion for Korean
  2. A practice method
  3. Perseverance in your practice
  4. Developed your practice into a habit

So now, it becomes time to talk about creating a plan for your study. No one ever gets very far along their journey without a plan.

One well-known idea about planning can be found in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. It’s the 2nd Habit: “Begin with the end in mind.” It’s important to know what your ultimate goals are for studying Korean in order to effectively and wisely plan out your roadmap to get there.

Your plan is not set in stone

Some people think that this means you’ll never be able to change your plan. That once you start out, you have to stick with it fully or risk self-destruction along the way. I like how Jon Acuff interprets Steven Covey’s 2nd Habit. He says:

Begin with the end in mind, not in stone.

Take extreme skiing, for example

He illustrates this point by referring to a professional skier he met who likes to do extreme skiing. He said the guy only plans out about 4 moves at a time. From the bottom of the slope, he can plan out his first 4 moves, but when he actually gets on the slope, conditions change, new things appear that he hadn’t seen from below, and he has to modify his plan in order to successfully (and wholly) make it back to the bottom.

Or chess playing

The same could be said about a chess player. Any chess player is unable to successfully predict the entire chess game from the first move to the final checkmate. At most, professional players usually calculate 3 to 5 moves ahead (though Garry Kasparov said he is able to see up to a dozen moves ahead if required).

Other professional sports

The same is true for race car drivers or professional athletes. There are only a limited number of moves down the road or field that you can successfully predict and plan for.

Even office work

Even teachers, businessmen, and architects can only predict what will happen in their professions. Lesson plans, business plans, and even blueprints aren’t set in stone. They may be extensive, intricately-detailed, and well-thought out, but day-to-day occurrences, weather, and other personalities often get in the way of perfect planning. Mid-action plan-modification is sometimes required. So don’t set your end in stone, but do keep it in mind.

Life is an unpredictable, selfish chess player on a race course. Be prepared to modify your plan at a moment’s notice.

Then why plan at all?

Plans are useless, but planning is essential. – General Dwight Eisenhower

So, does that mean that planning is useless? If you’re just going to be modifying your plan again anyway? On the contrary, the amount of thought and effort that goes into an initial plan is far from wasted. And it saves you time and energy later in the modification of your plan. At the very least, you’ll know better what to expect in the future:

  1. The things you know
  2. The things you don’t know
  3. How certain circumstances affect your performance
  4. How life and other people react

Your planning will actually educate you about the ways things will work in your particular circumstances so that plan modification goes more smoothly in the future (ask me about budgeting). And the more education and experience you gain, the sooner expertise will show up at your door.

So what things go into a successful plan?

I referred to budgeting earlier. Budgeting is a great example to use to illustrate the different components that make up a successful plan.

  1. Keep the end in mind (Paying off debt? Buying real estate? Cash rolling college?)
  2. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Relevant; Time-bound. For us, this looks like following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.)
  3. Make a schedule (I know when all our bills are due; when they come out automatically; and I have a debt repayment schedule.)
  4. Track your progress (I mark off on a debt “thermometer” every time we put money toward our principle.)
  5. Reassess regularly (Life brings changes. We have a baby due in November – that’ll require reassessment, likely long before November.)
  6. Reorganize as necessary (When the baby comes, we’ll need a new plan. But since we already have one now, modification will be easy. It’ll just be a matter of deciding what stays the same and what changes.)

In the next post, we’ll look at how I use these 6 steps to plan for my Korean study.

What do you think about planning? Have you made a plan to study Korean?

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