New Year’s Resolutions 2012

By Michael Gakuran | | Journal | 13 Comments |

Although rather late, I’ve been quietly contemplating what I should aim for in the Year of the Dragon. I always set vague resolutions for the new year and never really accomplish much because of it. So, I figure making some sort of announcement and written record of my goals might help me to properly focus on achieving them.

With that, I’m going to set some targets for myself over the next year. It’s set to be a time of big change for me. My current work is coming to an end and I’m in the process of job hunting. This will almost certainly mean I need to move house or even country sometime between spring and summer this year. I’ve also been chipping away at the wall separating me and my Japanese driver’s licence, but have not yet fully broken through to achieve it. Further to that, I feel it’s high time I knuckled down and took my Japanese to the next level. Too long I’ve been coasting since my formal study at university ended.

Below, then, are my goals for the year. I’ve tried to be as specific as possible, because vague goals are all too easy to rationalise when they aren’t completed.


#1 Find a new job that lets me utilise my Japanese skills in order to analyse the market and work on creative solutions that target consumers.
Achieved 21st May 2012!

This goal is intentionally still a little vague as it’s a completely different direction for my career to the work I’m currently doing. It may require an intermediate stage of learning more about marketing and experience at a company before I can actualise it. My hope is to find work in Japan – so if you have any connections or suggestions, please feel free to contact me :). I have until April in aiming for the start of the Japanese working year, or August to the end of my current contract.

#2 Succeed in obtaining my Japanese driver’s licence by April.
Achieved 8th March 2012!

I have one final stage to go – the road test. Currently I have failed 3 times and have until the middle of April to pass, otherwise my provisional licence will expire and I will have to start the whole expensive and time-consuming process from scratch. Not an option, so I must pass by April.

#3 Restart using Anki to study Japanese. Review for at least 10 minutes a day, adding sentences and reviewing grammatical constructions to build variety into my Japanese.

I have chosen a very short amount of time for reviews in the hope that I will feel less pressure to keep up with them. I can always spend longer on days I wish to do so.

#4 Complete book 1 of Heisig’s ‘Remembering the Kanji’, reviewing characters for at least 10 minutes a day.

Writing Japanese has always been last on my list of priorities, and for the most part, it still is. Most of my Japanese is either spoken, read or typed. But because of that, I sometimes find myself in embarrassing situations where I cannot recall basic kanji when forced to write by hand. Using Anki I intend to build my written ability to be able to remember and write the basic characters.

#5 Read at least 12 books a year, including 3 that are books written in Japanese. Write a brief commentary and notes on each (non-fiction) book about things learnt.

I love reading. In fact, I spend a lot of time reading articles online because of the availability of the internet. But a lot of that reading tends to be content that isn’t really that useful. As I found out on my gap year when I lived in a tiny Japanese apartment without internet, when without technology, I tend to read actual books and also write a lot more.

My aim here is to start small, reducing time wasted surfing the internet and increase the amount of actual books I read, hopefully increasing useful knowledge in the process. This goal also ties in with my learning Japanese and study goals for a directional change in career. I may facilitate this by purchasing a Kindle.


These are my main goals for the time being. I may add more as I discover them or feel they are important to note. Other ‘soft’ goals include keeping on top of updates to and Gakuu, learning how to use Final Cut Pro and producing more videos for Youtube. I also intend to continue weekly badminton lessons and continue snowboarding as much as I can. If possible I would like to add another form of exercise to my week. I dislike exercise for exercise’s sake, so a community sport would be best, or finding a friend to visit the gym with could also work.

As I’ve noted before, I have a real difficulty with creating content and completing tasks quickly because I aim for perfection. However, that’s not to say that the things I produce are anywhere close to perfect! But I have a tendency to analyse and spend far too much time on projects because I want them to be thorough and compare to professional standards. (An example might be making a travel video – I would end up trying to make something similar to that broadcast on television).

This has at least two unwanted results: 1) That I take too long to do things and 2) That I end up procrastinating because I know it will take a long time.

The solution will be to break big projects down into manageable smaller goals, each with their own ‘action task’ that can be started immediately. For example, a project creating a website might begin with ‘look at other websites on the internet and bookmark favourite designs’. A goal that is easy and can be done immediately as a part of the larger project. Another point will be to build up my skillset slowly and recognise that, at least for areas I am new to, aiming to achieve results comparable to working professionals is impractical.

Deciding where to draw the line on quality however is a difficult task. I’m not quite sure how I can lower the expectations I hold myself to.

That’s all for now then. Feel free to comment :).

13 comments on “New Year’s Resolutions 2012
  1. Biggi Bell says:

    I am impressed by your choice of resolutions but I miss the part about taking good (or shall I say “better” – ;-)) care of yourself and preserving your health… ;-) What about a resolution or goal of spending a certain amount of time on Fun things a week? I feel really hyped up too at the moment and use Anki on a regular basis, but I also set goals on not having take out every day and getting some good stories into my head. I do not care if it is books or games or movies.  And instead of writing a book diary (review thingy), try out a thought diary at first. It helps me to get things done also and I can keep track of what is important atm. Anyway, good luck with studying and take care ne?!

  2. Tiffany Harvey says:

    A big tip for Heigsig – I definitely would recommend using the “Reviewing the Kanji” site while you work through the book ~ ~ I was able to get through the book in 2.5 months, but did put in a ton of time to get through it quick. Even now I still use the site regularly to look up a kanji by keyword or check a story.

    For each kanji you have a spot to store the story that you make up and you can share it with others if you want. But the best part is reading through others’ stories when you are having a hard time coming up with one, which happens a lot. So many times I would think ‘how could those primitives possibly go together!’ and then get a great idea from someone else – either using their story exactly or it inspired something new. There are often comments too that will point out an error in the book or suggest a new keyword that might be easier to use, so it’s always worthwhile to skim through the top stories just in case.

    The only downside – the site is overflowing with perverted stories & I was pretty sick of it after 1,000 kanji! People find some way to make every primitive into something perverted (wood, rod, flesh, etc.) & I found it rather stupid – if half of your stories are like that how could you ever keep straight which phallic symbol to use in each story? Luckily there is a Firefox add-on that you can get so that it hides any story that has been reported _# of times (you pick the number).

  3. Anonymous says:

    At first I wasn’t going to read this because I just didn’t want to but, I am glad I did because you have reminded me of how important it is to right things down and make a commitment to myself. I think you and I have the same problem, ourselves. So, I too will make a list of the things I have been putting off so, thank you. がmばって!
    Nice post!

  4. Very nice goals for the year of the dragon!
    I’ve finished Heisig in 2008 and I obtained my Japanese driver’s license last year.
    I’m gonna change jobs for the first time, it being my 5th year here in Japan.

    I hope it’s gonna be a great year for both of us!

    Keep us posted on how it’s going! :)

    • Gakuranman says:

      Good to know! Congratulations on the driver’s licence, and very nice website :). Any tips on doing Heisig?

      Good luck for the year ahead!

      • zoomingjapan says:

        Thank you! :)

        Not really, I guess.
        I used a flashcard system (I suppose you know “Anki”?!). It’s important that you use stories that have something to do with what you’re interested in, connect them to a star you look up to, or a moive you really like.
        Toss book 2, instead try a different approach. I grouped kanji by on-yomi and then made up an additional story for each on-yomi group.
        E.g. the on-yomi group “KUN” could get associated with … let’s say “country songs”, then just add this to the story for each KUN-kanji and there you go.
        It helped me A LOT!!!

        KUN-yomi is much easier later on. Just read a lot.

        It worked for me. I started studying Japanese in 2002 and it took me forever to find a method to study kanji that worked for me.
        In 2008 I tried Heisig and that did the trick. I was able to read (kun- and on-yomi) and write over 2000 kanji in late 2009!
        At that point I was already able to easily pass 1kyuu level’s kanji and vocab section. (let’s not talk about reading or grammar …)

  5. Shootdayo says:

    My resolution is to say “off ta bog” as a Secretary General of the UN and “kick your ass” to the director of the board of the public association (50 yo woman I hate) I’m currently working on, muhaha

  6. Christoph says:

    Not intending to insult you here: is there something inherently difficult about the road test? I might face the same situation in the future, so I’d like to be prepared ;)

    • Gakuranman says:

      I not really sure. A lack of practice on my part? Strict examiners? Just being unlucky? I suspect a combination of all 3. From people I’ve talked to in both Japan and the UK, passing a driving test seems to vary wildly, with some people passing easily and others taking many more tries. All I can say really is that my best efforts are not enough yet.

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