At J-List, we like to encourage interest in learning Japanese, since it's such a rewarding language to study whether you're just trying to master hiragana and katakana or are going for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test this December. People are all different, and it's no surprise that we learn in different ways. In general, my advice is to find what "floats your boat," in other words sample a lot of different aspects of Japan to see what aspect of the country you're interested in, be it history, traditional culture and martial arts, anime and popular culture or what have you. Another bit of advice I can offer is to be "8x" about studying Japanese, by which I mean try several approaches at once to see what works for you rather than just trying one thing. (I translated JPOP songs for friends while reading manga and watching anime, then eventually got interested in Japanese literature.) Another thing you might try is writing a diary in Japanese, which gives you an excuse to practice writing (always a good idea), and you can see how far you've progressed by reading your old diary entries later. I did this for several years, although I had to give it up when I started J-List, which (as Apu from the Simpsons says) puts great demands on my time. Although in a way, I never stopped writing a diary about my life in Japan at all -- you're reading it right now.
An artist's conception of what keeping a diary in Japan is like.