A Little Background
I've spent most of my life learning languages. The thought of speaking to new people that I couldn't otherwise communicate with was the dream that made me pack my bags and leave the UK all those years ago.
After living in France, I arrived in Japan 2002 and started studying from day one. I never went to school because I'm too stubborn to follow a teacher's way of study.
I heard that everyday conversation was about 1000 words so I learned how to recognise vocabulary that seemed to be in and not in that set (a surprisingly important and overlooked skill). Even if a word sounded interesting to me I refused to learn it if I thought it fell outside that set.
The hardest part was memorising. There's no way around it. Get a Red Bull, sit down, stop complaining and roll those sleeves up. My method was to learn 40 verbs in every tense: past, present, conditional, etc and to try and string conversations together. I sounded terrible but at least I could stop using English. That's when things started to take off.
I got on the JLPT train up to N1 and I'm still going. I now read, write and speak fluently (although I doubt if I'll ever sound Japanese) but my progress has also been greatly influenced by my environment: My wife is Japanese and so is my work place.
Once you get over the 'always being an outsider' thing (hey, I felt like that in the UK) it's hard to not like living in Japan. If the definition of home is a place filled with things that are important to you, then Japan is my home and the UK is a pleasant but far away memory. There are things I miss (cheese!) but it's developed over the years into a foreign land, for me.
The idea behind StickyStudy software was simple: to give a bird's eye view of what you're doing (zoom) while giving you an idea of how well you're doing (colours). For me, this was the key in keeping my fire blazing.
Continued motivation is everything. If you have it, you'll eventually arrive at fluency. If you have a good method, you'll arrive faster.
I'm a Christian who after fighting for his dreams for so many years (and ignoring God with all his heart), has finally realised that His predetermined path for me is the only one that really works (I really wasted so much time). I'm a firm believer that there is one, awesome road laid out for us and we need guidance in finding it.
iPad/iPhone graphics: https://placeit.net