There are two reasons for studying something, be it a language, a technology, a degree, whatever.

Wishing to learn and wishing to know.

Wishing to learn is to enjoy the process, the journey. Enjoy the discovery process, enjoy every second of it. Even if you were never to use the final knowledge, it would still have been worth it.

Wishing to know is wanting only the end result. The diploma, the paper. The line on the resume. The result of the knowledge, in fact, not the knowledge itself, and certainly not the way that led to the knowledge. That way can be painful, it can mean sacrifice. If you fail your final exam after years of study, or that knowledge gets invalidated, outmoded, outdated, then it was all for nothing. You'll have "wasted" your time.

Of course, ideally, you should want and enjoy both. And sometimes you don't really have a choice.

Yet, there are three things you can do to get it right:

  • pick your fields of study carefully based on the above;
  • hack your mind into enjoying the process, even if you started out for the results;
  • find ways of making the process fun and enjoyable, even if it usually isn't (if you're not learning (lernen [de]) but teaching (lehren [de]), that is of course your first assignment).