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.

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#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.

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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 Gakuranman.com 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 :).

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