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Learn French: a project, a goal, or an area of focus? Confusion...

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  • Learn French: a project, a goal, or an area of focus? Confusion...

    I can't tell if learning French is a project or a goal for me. I formulated it as "learn French to such degree that I can write in professional environment and be confident that there are no errors". I don't know if it will take me more or less than a year to get to that level of mastery. it might take 3 years, who knows?

    I am taking private lessons once a week. Every week I have a next action: do your homework, and some specifics thrown in.
    Every time I do all the actions associated with this project (my homework), I don't really get much closer to finishing the project. It seems like "Learn French" will just stay there for a very very long time. It is stale and is clogging up my list of projects. Am I doing something wrong?
    P.S. I have been learning GTD for about a year now, but it is still really wobbly. I really want to get it right, but I find it very hard.

  • #2
    It can be a bit tricky, yeah. Here's how I tend to look at it:

    Projects: The main thing about projects is that they can be done. The question at this level is: "Is there going to be some point in which I decide, hurray, I am done the "Learn French" project?

    Goals: These are things we want. "I want to... 'Learn French'." Typically take one of three forms: "I want to do...", "I want to be...", or "I want to have...". Goals and projects have what I would describe as a 'many-to-many' relationship: one goal can have several related projects, and one project can relate to several goals.

    Area-of-Focus: These tend to be "I am a..." statements. "I am a father", "I am an employee of YoYoDyne", "I am a religious person". They tend to change slowly over the course of a lifetime. Goals relate to Areas-of-Focus in this way: "If I were to (accomplish this goal), I would be a better (Area-of-Focus)."

    So personally I would break down the horizons around this like so:

    50K: Life Mission: (whatever your life's mission is). Learning French would help me accomplish my life's mission.

    40K: 3-5 Year Vision: In five years, I see myself writing and speaking French fluently, if with a bit of an accent. I am at work, writing an letter in French to a contractor in Paris. I am standing on a beach in St. Martinique, ordering a drink in French. I watch French movies without subtitles.

    30K: 1-2 Year Goals: In a year, I will have: finished a year-long course in French. Finished reading an easy-ish book in French. Tried to ignore the subtitles in a French movie.

    20K: Areas of Focus: If I learned French, I would be a better employee, a better parent, and a better citizen of the world.

    10K: Projects: My related projects this year are: 1) The French 101 Course. 2) Read "Vingt Mille Lieues Sous Les Mers" by Jules Verne. 3) Watch the original "La Femme Nikita".

    Runway: Next Actions. * Finish this week's French homework. * Finish reading chapter 7 of the French book. * Check Netflix for La Femme Nikita.


    Hope that makes some sense. It's not the only way to tackle it, but it'd be the way I'd do it.



    Cheers,
    Roger

    Comment


    • #3
      @ Roger

      Oh, my, Roger, this is exactly what I needed!
      Your answer is so clear and comprehensive, I am touched that somebody actually bothered to explain it this well to me. It is the first time that I posted something in a forum, and turns out that it is a really, really good tool.
      Thank you very much, Roger.

      Comment


      • #4
        My pleasure -- the DavidCo forums are among the best I've ever found, so welcome aboard. There's a lot of helpful people here.


        Cheers,
        Roger

        Comment


        • #5
          wow and another thanks

          Roger, I second the thanks for your writing with such clarity, insight and generosity of heart. I am not working on French, but your response can serve as a "template" for me for in my efforts at making a plan that works.

          Comment


          • #6
            Isn't it too ambitious?

            Originally posted by Iaroslavna View Post
            I can't tell if learning French is a project or a goal for me. I formulated it as "learn French to such degree that I can write in professional environment and be confident that there are no errors".
            Isn't it too ambitious? I am never confident that there are absolutely no errors in my documents!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Roger View Post
              It can be a bit tricky, yeah. Here's how I tend to look at it:

              Projects: The main thing about projects is that they can be done. The question at this level is: "Is there going to be some point in which I decide, hurray, I am done the "Learn French" project?

              Goals: These are things we want. "I want to... 'Learn French'." Typically take one of three forms: "I want to do...", "I want to be...", or "I want to have...". Goals and projects have what I would describe as a 'many-to-many' relationship: one goal can have several related projects, and one project can relate to several goals.

              Area-of-Focus: These tend to be "I am a..." statements. "I am a father", "I am an employee of YoYoDyne", "I am a religious person". They tend to change slowly over the course of a lifetime. Goals relate to Areas-of-Focus in this way: "If I were to (accomplish this goal), I would be a better (Area-of-Focus)."

              So personally I would break down the horizons around this like so:

              50K: Life Mission: (whatever your life's mission is). Learning French would help me accomplish my life's mission.

              40K: 3-5 Year Vision: In five years, I see myself writing and speaking French fluently, if with a bit of an accent. I am at work, writing an letter in French to a contractor in Paris. I am standing on a beach in St. Martinique, ordering a drink in French. I watch French movies without subtitles.

              30K: 1-2 Year Goals: In a year, I will have: finished a year-long course in French. Finished reading an easy-ish book in French. Tried to ignore the subtitles in a French movie.

              20K: Areas of Focus: If I learned French, I would be a better employee, a better parent, and a better citizen of the world.

              10K: Projects: My related projects this year are: 1) The French 101 Course. 2) Read "Vingt Mille Lieues Sous Les Mers" by Jules Verne. 3) Watch the original "La Femme Nikita".

              Runway: Next Actions. * Finish this week's French homework. * Finish reading chapter 7 of the French book. * Check Netflix for La Femme Nikita.


              Hope that makes some sense. It's not the only way to tackle it, but it'd be the way I'd do it.



              Cheers,
              Roger
              What a great response! What a really wonderful way to show GTD applied to something somewhat nebulous like learning a language. What you have given here could serve as a template for a lot of GTD applications...

              I'm learning French and do it as an AofF. And I have no idea how it fits with my life purpose...I just know I have wanted to for years and now I am doing it. If it's any help to the original poster...here are some really great resources...

              www.verbcast.com (excellent way to learn how to conjugate verbs)
              www.coffeebreakfrench.com (great 20 minute podcasts) and
              About.French (great daily stuff on that)

              Merci beaucoup !

              Comment


              • #8
                Thank you so much Roger. I'm going to print that out and stick it up on my wall

                Ruth

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have a Learning Welsh Project

                  I have a Learning Welsh project.

                  My project is Learn to speak Welsh well enough to converse with native Welsh speakers about farming, food and textiles.

                  For me I had sub projects of decide how to learn (on-line, podcast, language SW), research the options, select a course, sign up for it, and now I have an ongoing project with next actions to listen to and do my exercises from the podcast I selected.

                  It's part of my area of focus to Manage our Farm Sustainably

                  I tend to ignore goals and instead focus on the vision because farming is such a long term activity. Learning Welsh furthers the vision to raise the best Black Welsh Mountain sheep in North America and to operate our farm in a long tern sustainable fashion.

                  The 50K level is what I consider my purpose and this project ties in to "I develop & implement sustainable systems to breed rare & endangered livestock & plant species, breeds & bloodlines. I focus on my duty to the earth & the domestic species we are responsible for."

                  So for me there are really 4 levels, projects, areas of focus, vision and purpose.

                  Just a different view.

                  Part of GTD is to find what works for you.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    These are toughies. For these types of endeavors, I usually find it's best to discover a single concrete event that requires preparation to complete.

                    As an example, I'm trying to be successful at improv comedy. That's kind of nebulous; how do you know when you're done? So, the endgame of my project is to audition for a comedy troupe. It's happening on February 28. But prior to that, I've been taking classes, going to all the improv performances in the area, holding practices with my friends every week, taking the time to research improv techniques, and even playing with some warm-and-fuzzy stuff like meditation, listening to inspirational music, and chakra balancing (I struggle with stage fright and lack of confidence, and this helps me).

                    I've decided that I'll forgive myself if I don't make the audition - as long as I do everything I can to be successful at it. Here's hoping!

                    So, maybe you can find a single event you can take advantage of, like writing a story in French without any reference tools, talking with someone over Skype in French, or (if budget permits) even going to France and not speaking in English the whole time.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I love this explanation! I'm just getting into the Horizons of Focus (graduating from the basics ) and found this breakdown very helpful Thanks!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I learn Spanish. I have a goal to finish one textbook till the end of 2011. This will allow me to read, write and speak rather fluently. I don't have any projects related to finishing the goal as I see no sense in setting a project for this goal - it is just a double entry. I have scheduled time from 7.30 to 8.00 daily to go through the textbook. I learn new words while driving in Flashcards on my IPhone and listen to Coffeebreakspanish.com podcast.

                        Not sure if I got the GTD right but for me it is a concept of small steps that lead to the outcome. The steps could be as small as 1-5 minutes. The action lists could contain lots of them. It is better to batch them by contexts to allow for easier completion (like @Computer). Then just do these steps and be comfortable that you move to the goals you set.

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