I'm going full-time with my language learning

Hey LingQers,

For the last six months, I have been studying Chinese for two to three hours a day. However, I came to a realisation:

I have been completely stunting my growth in Chinese AND in all other areas of my life because I have been filling my plate with way too much. I have been spreading myself too thin and everything is suffering because of it.

The eight big things I was trying to do were:

  1. Learn Mandarin Chinese
  2. Run my sole proprietorship software company (I am self employed)
  3. Learn the programming languages required to start another website (PHP, HTML, CSS and JS)
  4. Do freelance for a client that hired me in January
  5. Work out every other day (mostly running)
  6. Cook and eat well for myself and my little brother (we live alone)
  7. Go to and participate actively in Al-Anon (a twelve step program)
  8. Have a social life (keep up with friends, etc.)
    Living under this immense amount of work left my Chinese in a state where whenever I studied, I felt stressed because I only had a small amount of time each day to study, then I had to move on to whatever else I needed to work on. I also spent next to no time finding compelling content because I did not want to “waste” my time.

After six months of this, I was becoming completely demotivated in my Chinese because of it. I was making so little progress because my mind was in so many other places that I could not focus on my biggest goal of all: learning Mandarin Chinese.

Some days I even felt angry, resentful and rushed when eating tasty food, that’s how I knew I had a problem.

I have done a lot of soul searching over the last week and my heart brought me to this idea:

I am going to study Mandarin Chinese full-time.

Once I recognised that I might have a problem, I came very quickly to the realisation that the only way for me to make any meaningful progress for my language learning goal of reaching high B2 in Mandarin Chinese was to dedicate every day to learning Mandarin Chinese.

As a result, I am slowing down on #2, and completely cutting out #3 & #4. These time savings will allow me to study Chinese for six to eight hours a day without the massive stress of trying to run 1.5 companies at once.

I hope that this post and my future progress posts inspires others in the future to cut the crap in their life and focus on a small number of things really well instead of focusing on a tonne of things poorly.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I will be posting progress updates on these forums once in a while on how I am doing.

If you want some motivation for yourself, this video was the final kick in the ass that made me realise that I was on the right path. Maybe it will help you too: Jordan Peterson - How To Move Forward In Life - YouTube

I look forward to sharing my progress with you guys in the future.

Stay awesome!


I like to say, “A musician is someone who plays a musical instrument every day.” In other words, if you do something every day, you’re bound to excel at it. However, don’t burn out. It’s good to take a day off every now and then, just to let your brain rest and process things.


Absolutely something I am going to have to watch out for, thank you. I still have to learn more about how long it takes me to get to a point where I’m tired and what helps me refuel.

One thing that I think will help is the fact that I have basically freed my every day so that it’s much more flexible, and I’m going to try and spend that time doing things in Chinese that is compelling. In the end though I know every activity gets tiring as your brain needs rest so we’ll just have to see how far this takes me :slight_smile:

I am impressed with your dedication learning Chinese. For me, my young family is always the biggest challenge for learning my italian.

Thank you very much.

I totally understand the challenges of making time. I am in a particularly unique situation because I am twenty years old and am only living on my own with my little brother (who’s seventeen), so I don’t have any younglings to take care of.

Something that has helped me in my language learning, no matter what I was doing in my life at the time, was to wake up before everyone else. This allows you to have uninterrupted time by yourself to study the language, and then it puts the language in your mind for the rest of the day.


Great post. I had a sense you had been inspired by Jordan Peterson’s work whilst reading your post. I too have been thinking about this over the last few days and found it certainly beneficial to provide more focus and attention to one area. The key is balance and developing the ability to pay attention.
A lot of daoist thought is embedded into the Chinese language too which provides endless sources for inspiration (Jordan Peterson talks a lot about daoism in his lectures as well).
Good luck with your full time studying of chinese!


Hmmm, you might not want to dedicate that much time into it. The brain needs time to assimilate the material, especially when it’s completely foreign like Chinese. When I started learning my first romance language I was incredibly frustrated because it just wouldn’t sink in no matter how hard I tried and no matter how much time I spend on it everyday. Then I decided to take a break before I burn myself out to the point that I just stop it all together. After 2 weeks, I came back, and I can finally comprehend the texts I used to get aggravated on. I did the same thing when I started with French. Just put in the necessary effort, and trust the nature of your brain- it’s smarter than you think it is. Don’t overwhelm yourself, because the very very last thing you want is to get burned out; you will associate that language or that activity with negative feelings and you’ll have a hard time coming back to it because your brain will try to avoid that thing that gives you such negativity. The brain learns best when it’s relaxed. And I find it’s even better when you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing, as if you’re not studying. I recommend doing only a 30-60min of actual “study” per day (then a nap if it’s intensive), and the available time you have left you can use to immerse yourself in that language in a way that’s interesting and enjoyable for you. That’s more sustainable and practical in the long run. If you like reading the news- read it in Chinese, if you like watching movies- maybe replace the subtitles, if you like to listen to music- try out some Chinese songs. When you feel like you’ve piled up all this knowledge and it’s all messy and isn’t making any sense, take a 3-7 day break, then come back to it. That break also reenergizes you because you’re longing to get back into it, and when you do you feel a sense of comfort or relief (and more positive feelings associated to the language=easier to sustain a routine.) I also like to keep a playlist of motivational videos that would reenergize me to keep learning each language I’m studying. Anyway, just my two cents. Good luck!! Looking forward to your progress updates.

And also… Jordan Peterson!!! :heart:

“…trust the nature of your brain - it’s smarter than you think it is”
That quote just made me smile for some reason. Probably because I agree!

I think it’s interesting to hear about the “power of breaks” and to experience it. Lydia Machova and Olly Richards recently did a series of interviews where Lydia talks about using planned breaks (otherwise you’d just “start when you feel like it” and perhaps go a long time without starting) to be more effective.

I don’t believe in the videos that play hundreds of phrases in the target language that you’re supposed to let play overnight and you’ll “learn the language in your sleep”, but sleep certainly does do something for language learning. As you said, it gives your unexpectedly-smart brain time to organize information.


Thank you for sharing your experience, I’ll be interested to see how it goes. I think a lot of people (including myself) would be really hesitant to make such a large time dedication to the language, even if they’re enjoying it. Maybe your posts can help people see if it makes sense for them to make such a change or not.

By the way, in Steve’s next language workout maybe you could ask him to check out this post and tell you what he thinks (since he does “profile reviews” sometimes). That would be really interesting too.


Thank you for the support mate - really appreciate it :slight_smile:

I won’t lie: a large part of me is scared that I am taking such a large leap of faith - that’s where the fun and the growth is though. I recognise that now. I refuse to let myself crash and burn on this one, as giving up would mean missing out on so much.

I was inspired by another gentleman’s posts about his progress in listening which you can find in order here:

I hope that my future posts can provide this type of inspiration to others in the language learning community who might be looking into what’s possible in language learning.

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Thanks for the links, those will be interesting to read too. Good luck with your lifestyle change and trip out of your comfort zone!

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