The entire first year that I studied Japanese I didn’t really learn much. As I mentioned in the free E-book 5 Tips to Learn Japanese Faster, a big part of this was due to the use of bad materials. Another big reason was that I didn’t really have a strong reason or goal for studying Japanese. I had an interest in Japan, martial arts, and the samurai. And I needed to take a foreign language. Unfortunately, these were not strong enough goals to to push me to focus on Japanese. It was only enough to keep me enjoying it and moving along at the slow pace of the class.
It wasn’t until I decided that I would study abroad in Japan and may want to work there someday that I really took studying Japanese seriously. Realizing I would be moving to Japan also helped me set goals to work towards. I wanted to learn to converse in basic conversation and learn at least a certain amount of kanji. Once I decided to work in Japan, I set new goals. Learning more Japanese words, more phrases, and more kanji.
These goals were attainable because they were very clear and also important to me. To gain a level of fluency in Japanese takes a lot of hours of study. That doesn’t mean it has to be difficult, just that you have to be dedicated.
The stronger your reasons are for learning Japanese the more likely you will be to succeed. Setting clear goals will also help you know exactly how much you have to study to get to the point you want to reach.
I suggest that you take some time to think about your reasons for studying Japanese. Try to paint as clear a picture as possible to why you are learning and what you want to achieve. Write down all the reasons you are studying Japanese and what level you expect to get to. During the times you are struggling you can look at it again to keep yourself inspired.