And again, so quickly, it is the final day of another year! As much as most might expect me to be rather indifferent to so arbitrarily timed a change as this one, you’ll know if you read some previous posts that I cheer for the onset of the new year. While there’s of course nothing truly liberating about the fact that we’ve begun to count the days anew, New Year’s Eve seems to endow many with the will to rejuvenate, reform, and just holistically introspectively examine their lives, goals, and interactions (as short-lived as these revolutionary attempts may be). One may, certainly, “begin again” in any capacity at any point in time, but on the thirty-first of December, millions choose to attempt to do so simultaneously, and often very enthusiastically; it is this – the widespread voicing of a universal truth: that there is always hope for change should one act to achieve it – which has always lifted my spirits. The fact that the winter – serene in its sharp, biting cold and its ability to put to sleep so much of life – accompanies the day makes it one on which I can reflect even more readily.
It may seem odd, then, that I don’t make resolutions. Instead, I make to-do lists.
This is mostly because I’ve had an abundance of experience with the fact that it is very difficult to modify one’s thought processes in the way that a certain breed of commonly-made resolution demands (that concerned with shaping you into a presumably “better” person). You may say and hope that you will learn to “Be nicer to friends”, or “Lie less for personal gain”, or “Learn to control anger”, but this is incredibly difficult to effect unfalteringly. Disturbing circumstances – so problematic that they snap the neat hold your willpower has on you – will indubitably arise, if not this year then the next. For various reasons, you may have revert to old habits, or to first impulses (physiological or psychological) that would take far longer than one year to modify. A sudden tragic or otherwise dramatic event may leave it incredibly difficult to accomplish goals, however earnestly set, in other areas of life. All of that is part of the reality of existence.
And then, there is the fact that even if you do manage to successfully cater to the specifications you put forth, how, precisely, are you know to know that they should be enforced for the entirety of a year? A behaviour that might seem splendid at first may have its cons (in the hopes of being constantly, infallibly polite, you may, in fact, begin finding it easier to lie frequently), and an idea or end worth pursuing may not be what it seemed. Then, in the mess of it all and the hopes of catering to what appeared “right” back then, you may even injure yourself by remaining linearly dedicated to an ideal.
And I don’t think it’s rational to be disappointed in the fact that all this occurs, and to subsequently claim, should it happen to you, that you’ve failed: to lament that you’ve betrayed something so firm, so determinedly made, as a resolution. The value of this day’s spirit lies in rejuvenation, and that’s precisely why I feel that one should take into account the very nature of rejuvenation in setting goals. It is uncertain – an attempt – and something very tangible. So should be our resolutions. And that’s why I make to-do lists!
Here is mine:
- Blog weekly! (Hopefully, daily? Yeah, I’m certain that will occur.)
- Reconnect with, prior to the beginning of the winter term, all those friends, family members, influences, and coworkers with whom I feel I’ve celebrated the validity of love and academia at some point in time. This may mean forgetting small interpersonal mishaps.
- Continually find ways of reinventing, standardizing, and documenting my tutoring strategies: Particularly, I’d like to create standardized lesson plans, find new ways of presenting content (e.g., YouTube videos, mind-mapping, group tutoring methods), and learn to more comprehensively psychologically profile my students. My goal in tutoring has always been to have my students enjoy their interactions with the subject at hand. I want to ensure that I deliver.
- Improve my focus, scheduling, and organizational skills: Find ways to manage time that I haven’t previously considered, learn to better schedule my sleeping, find natural ways to stay awake and better my focus, develop a better shorthand system, ensure that I file important documents daily, keep everything written down. I’ve a hectic term ahead of me, and I need to streamline my actions.
- Upkeep a 4.0 GPA for the next two terms of my university education, and minimally a 3.9 for the following ones: I require a 4.0 for Winter and Summer 2013 in order to fulfill a certain conditional research offer I’ve procured, but after that, I want to continue to keep my grades elevated. Albeit that this doesn’t in any way signal anything about intelligence or capability, retaining such an average does take a certain form of intellectual determination. And excess work can’t injure a person, if carefully and meaningfully mediated.
- Actively run study groups for all of my university classes:I want to try to get people engaged in material using a wide variety of approaches. I hope to run weekly or twice-weekly review sessions, personally tutor some students, post interesting related content to all of these groups, and get people interacting with one another.
- Take a field course: I have always enjoyed field biology, and want to see how it’s practiced in formalized research groups. If I thoroughly enjoy it, I may choose to lend ecology a greater portion of my focus, as pursuing it was – and remains – my childhood dream. I would like to travel to Peru, or even to examine parts of Ontario in more detail.
- Further honestly contemplate which field I wish to dedicate myself to: I have always wandered between the sciences and the humanities, and though that research offer looms, I’m as yet uncertain as to whether I wish to specialize in physics, biology, English literature, or something entirely different. I’m quite certain that I will never be certain, but at least temporary decisions should be made.
- Pay some attention to and attempt to improve my body language and non-verbal communication: This is an important aspect of one’s presentational skills, and is therefore something I want to approve upon. It is rather a vain thing to contemplate too seriously, haha, but I would like to be able to look as though I’m a functional biological entity.
- Associate with solely (or mostly) those people who appear to enjoy my presence for reasons I consider genuine: I’ve recently had experiences with friends who academically idolize me, think me emotionless, or otherwise misinterpret my behaviour and thinking. I would like to limit the time that I spend around these people, else modify the nature of our relationships, regardless of which costs this has for both them and myself. I will have an immense quantity of trouble doing this, but those who do not care about you truly shouldn’t claim themselves to be your close friends.
- Avoid succumbing to people’s expectations if I find them painful, and make known problems within my friendships as they arise: Remain civil, but do what makes me happy, and return to the childhood state in which I calmly acknowledged that the universe’s beauty is really the only thing that profoundly matters to me. I’ve a tendency to be a so-termed pushover in some capacities, and this needs to be revised.
- Spend time daily engaging with my cat, my fish, and the dog I walk (Meowsee, Checkers, Joker, Leopard, Skunky, Specter, Tony, and Endy respectively): These are the creatures that, in addition to some friends and family, make my life worth living. I have not spent enough time with them in the last semester, but I fully intend to do so hereafter.
- Revise my entrepreneurial involvements: Whilst I love my entrepreneurial work, I’d like to further specialize within entrepreneurship, and dedicate more time to those pursuits that I find most worthwhile. This will mean vacating administrative roles and taking on advisory capacities in several initiatives that I run.
- Write the MCAT, two GREs, and the MAT: I’ve been putting off the taking of these tests for some time, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed revising for them. I also want to create the M.C.A.T. video- and text-based preparatory course that I hoped to make this summer.
- Routinely attend conferences and similar academic events, as well as concerts
- Spend more time revitalizing AMLOC: AMLOC is a 230-person-strong applications- and enrichment-related group that I run via Facebook. I want to frequently add people to it, run some intragroup networking exercises, and continue to try to have people care about the information they’re gaining by providing them with connections, ideas, and opportunities.
- Routinely engage in some form of athletics: Either 太极拳, or more swimming and dancing.
- Learn Lovari Romani to some passable extent: I didn’t manage to do this over the summer, as both I and the friend who will be teaching it to me were consistently busy, but I hope this will occur!
- Attempt in-home caffeine synthing:Based on the Merck Index, J.A.C.S., and the Traube paper.
- Perfect several compositions, of both jazz and classical genres:I want to learn the last two movements of Haydn’s Concerto per il Clarino, Hob.: VII e, 1 (Trumpet Concerto in E flat major) well, and continue to learn Liszt’s TÉs, “Autumn Leaves”, Arabesque No. 1,
- Revise my physical appearance: I’d like to find clothing for certain inevitable occasions which I can feel thoroughly comfortable wearing. I don’t currently enjoy my physical appearance, and I don’t think that I will ever be able to, but I hope to at least find items that I can like wearing.
- Visit or revisit the following restaurants: Gryfe’s Bagels, Sansotei Ramen, Okonomi House, Manpuku Japanese, Khao San Road, Scaramouche, Canoe, Guu Izakaya, Zucca Trattoria, Pastis, Karine’s Vegetarian, Grand Electric, an amazing food truck, Solo Sushi Ya, Wow! Sushi, Zen Japanese, Buca, K & K Specialty, assorted Pacific mall locations, the restaurants surrounding 半亩园, Ici Bistro, Estiatorio VOLOS, Japango, Korean Village Restaurant, Sukho Thai, Sotto Sotto, Mengrai Gourmet Thai, Trimurti Indian Cuisine, Black Hoof, Fabarnak, Splendido, Ruby Watchco, Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu, Seor Ak San, Latinada Tapas Restaurant, Jean’s Vegetarian Kitchen, Sidecar, Polka, Fabian’s Café, Sidecar, The Stockyards, Banh Mi Boys, Pho Tien Thanh, Hibiscus, Jule’s Bistro, Lola’s Kitchen, Sneaky Dee’s, The Hogtown Vegan, Southern Accent Restaurant, Junction Eatery, Black Camel, Smoke’s, Adega Restaurante, Pizzeria Libretto, Yuzu, Guu SakaBar, Etsu, XFY, Gio Rana’s Really Really Nice Restaurant, Chococrêpe, the small Vietnamese place near my home, The Salad House, Magic Oven, Cheesewerks, Lamesa Filipino Kitchen, Scheffler’s Delicatessen, Caplansky’s Delicatessen, Delux, Hair of the Dog, Crêpes à GoGo, Keriwa Cafe, The Burger’s Priest, Sin and Redemption, The Monk’s Table, Café Polonez, Rio 40 Restaurant, WaffleBar, Barque Smokehouse, Chako Barbecue Izakaya, Chatime, El Almacen Yerba Mate Café, David’s Teas, One Hour Cafeteria, Life is Sweet, Bakerbots Baking, T&T Supermarket, St. Lawrence Market, Fratelli’s, La Palette, Bonjour Brioche, Velouté Bistro, Asian Legend, Sakura, Hashimoto, Sushi Kaji, Lai Wah Heen, Enoteca Sociale, Lee, Ursa, Actinolite, Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, Modus Ristorante, 7 Numbers, Nota Bene, Chiado, Bymark, Mandalay, Grand Chinese Restaurant, Golden Turtle, Celestin, Origin, Frida, La Palette, Ba Shu Ren Jia, Tofu Village, Pizza Pide, Obika Mozzarella Bar, and more.
- Further and make more official my language qualifications: Placement tests, standardized subject-specific language testing, short-term programs, anything. I’ve spent an abundance of time learning approximately fourteen languages, nine of them relatively well, so I want to attempt to formalize my studies.
- During the summer, light-sheet daily!
- Remind myself of my sources of motivation: I’ve currently a folder marked “Happiness” on my desktop, haha. I want to fill it with good things, and continually visit it, else create a book with its contents that I may carry around.
- Complete assorted small projects, many of which have previously been described here: Improving U. of T. first years’ experiences with ROSI, creating an audio-modulated SSTC, the area theorem problem, founding the U. of T. Foreign Languages and Computer Clubs, assorted Spivak and Milnor solution manuals, A Non-Science Major’s Introduction to QFT, da Vinci backwards script, Lewin lines, Greek tutoring, the Chinese project, analyzing attributive adjective ordering via some computer science, rereading 四大名著, a page-by-page analysis of Heart of Darkness, the first of a set of texts geared at explaining fundamental concepts of English grammar in the readers’ languages, log everything that I observe and describe it all strictly scientifically, and more.
- Attempt to acquire more research internships, including NEMALOAD (http://nemaload.davidad.org/): Each new research assignment grants me a chance to investigate the things I’ve always loved. This one seems particularly tantalizing, and screams of the Infinite Corridors.
Thank you for reading – at present, I am off to celebrate! Please do share your own plans, if you’ve the time.
To you all, a happy… arbitrary orbital marker.