Guide

How I Select and Make New Year Resolutions Sustainable

There was this comprehensive framework which I’ve put together about 4 years back on making New Year Resolutions. It was all encompassing but like any framework or system which aims to be comprehensive, they are often too complicated to be sustainable. I think I didn’t complete a single resolution on one of the years that follow.

In the beginning of this year, I was determined to to get everything to work. I try to simplify the way I look at it and I think it worked! I’m proud that I’ve completed 11.5 out of 13 goals this year. I’ve also added on 3 stretched goals for myself, completing 2 out of 3 of it. It’s a slugfest but I thought it worked out.

As I headed to a hermitage to onder on life again this year, drew from past experiences, drew from new knowledge such as HARD goals, this is now what I think will work and make it sustain.

Sustainable is the key.

(1) Select Goals to Cover All Aspects

I still feel strongly that we should make goals from all of these aspects as they help to fuel each other to help you accomplish all the goals.

We need not categorise the goal though. One single goal can be crafted to cover multiple aspects at the same time.

  • Spiritual: Goals that contributes directly to what you want in life
  • Mental: Always learning something new and keep your mind alive and healthy
  • Social/Emotional: Things that can build up characters such as empathy, service and intrinsic security
  • Physical (and Emotional) Well-being: The essence of life and energy to run your goals
  • Financial: Money is always needed to help ease you through some of the harder to reach goals like it or not

(2) Write Heartfelt Reasons for Each Goal

All goals made must have a strong heartfelt reason written down. It is written down so that we won’t lose sight of why we are after that goal in the first place.

Not sure about you but sometimes I will lose sight of why I am after something working on it for too long. This helps me stay focus.

(3) Select a Way to Sustain until the Goal is Accomplished

I believe there are two basic ways we can engage a goal:

  • Habit-based: Work the goal into a routine that we can do daily or weekly. Once it is a habit, it becomes easy to sustain. Reinvent the habit if it gets too monotonous.
  • Project-based: Spend solid hours preferably no longer than two to three months working on the project. If it is, break it into smaller bits. Once we are done, we can relax and do something else.

And then we can mix and match! For my physical well being goal for 2018, as a project, I intend to craft a workout. Once I have that, I can set the workout as a habit and do it as a routine. I will also intersperse with mini projects such as completing a half-marathon and let’s see if I can get Gold for my final (hopefully) Individual Proficiency Physical Fitness test.

(4) Do it with Someone if Possible

From a famous African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together.” Is there someone who you can share and accomplish the goal together with?

I also welcome the opportunity to form stronger bonds with my friends.

(5) It is OK to Refine and Redefine – Enjoy the Journey!

The perfectionist in me is really hard-up on completing my goals. It is like collecting stars for my report card. Really, I also learnt that it is ok to cut myself some slack. It is OK to refine my plans and redefine my goals if needed.

I’ve learned to look at the journey as an accomplishment too. This means I still need to see progress in me. Sometimes, circumstances change, a goal no longer seem that heartfelt, and it is time to wave goodbye to the goal for now.

And really, resolutions need not be set at the New Year. It can be done anytime. The magic of the New Year Resolution is that it gives me the chance to look at my life holistically at a regular interval.

My New Year Resolutions for 2018 are still not done up even though there’s only 10 hours to go but I have a good idea what I would like to do. Just need to pen it down to make sure my thoughts are crystal clear.

Wishing everyone a Happy 2018 in advanced and may you have a productive and fulfilling year ahead.

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Journal

Designing Board Games | the Dilemma that Limits Potential

It has been slightly more than one year since I’ve started designing this game, with the focus on getting a few mechanics which I thought would be interesting to work on. It has been a difficult time trying to push the project forward when I have so many other mini-projects which I am working on at the same time.

Nevertheless, I’m proud that at the very least, the game managed to be play through till the end! This will mean that major parts of the game has stabalised. Moving forward, tweaks are needed and I can probably focus on a different part of the project a bit more. Like game balance, artwork, and UI/UX aspects.

At first, I was thinking that I will close the project after this play test as it has been taking far too long; I can’t commit time to work on it quickly. A small part of me wanted to see it to fruition as a published game now that it seemed like I’m close to completion. Deep down, I also know that this is probably not fun enough a game to attract players and I don’t feel like putting in that much effort into it.  Hence for now, this is a dilemma which I have.

It is actually not the first time I am faced with this dilemma. If I’m being absolutely truthful with myself, I probably didn’t see the push factor for me to drive it to be published – just too much work on top of my day job to see something through.

That’s what happen to music. I’m one step short of getting my music published in some way. I felt that there’s too much money to be invested in order to produce a proper demo to be sold. I’ll need to venture into bits that I don’t like to do, such as picking up the technical skills to do a proper demo recording. I felt bored as there was no longer a breakthrough.

And then I stopped.

And then I moved on to something else.

Come to think of it, I believe this is a dilemma that is going to limit my potential again and again.

While I’m not sure what to do with it yet, I better do something about it fast.

Journal

Last Run?

Carrying an injury into the half marathon and completing it in a bit over 2hr 25mins. Not my best run but at least it qualifies as an average.

The aftermath was unbearable though. Pain sets in.

The Chinese physician whom I consulted said I sustained injury to multiple joints. These include my right hip and my 3rd lumbar vertebra of the spine. The knees are not going well too.

“Swim. It’s good for you. Don’t run or jump or it’s going to aggravate the situation,” the physician warned.

“Am I going to recover?” I asked.

“Of course, you will. How old do you think you are?” he quipped.

I find little relieved in his words though. These days, every injury I sustained seemed to take me longer to heal. This is the first time I had an injury to my spine. Physically, I am really feeling my age.

Deep down, I really fear that I couldn’t run anymore.

But there’s still so many runs I have not done! Like the 4:30 pace for my 2.4km, the sub-2 Half Marathon, and I really wanted to do a marathon in Japan some day.

I need to treat self-care very very seriously.

Ideas

“Can’t have nice things” – an opportunity to analyse travel patterns

“This is why we can’t have nice things!”

So says Singapore, so says Australia and so says many place else. Bike sharing might have brought transportation convenience. It has brought along its fair share of inconvenience.

It spreads like a virus. It spreads like a zombie apocalypse. Everywhere in the neighborhood, a pile of rubbish bike.

IMG_20171102_073954
A pile of shared bikes near a park that is currently under renovation in my neighborhood

On the bright side, its probably not that bad in Singapore. Looking at some of the pictures running through the Internet of bike sharing woes in other parts of the world, bikes found in the drains, found in the water and some are found on top of lamp posts.

I’m not kidding. ON TOP of lamp posts!

I was just thinking, why don’t we analyse travel patterns using these bikes. It would have been an interesting exercise. After all, my understanding is many of these bikes are armed with a GPS sensor, hence, surely we have all the data there, somewhere.

  • We could see how the bikes spread and migrate from places to places.
  • We could see which routes sees high usage of bikes. Maybe we can put in a bus service or a short cut to certain routes.
  • Where does all the bikes end up after the morning, the evening and the weekend peaks? Does it mean that we have to put a bicycle parking space there?
  • And more importantly, we got to work out if it make sense for the profiting companies to pay for the bicycle parking space that the G is going to build. I’m not quite sure if it makes sense for the tax payers to pay for this.

A messy neighborhood brings unhappy citizens and crime. We haven’t gone there yet but preventive measures are always better than cure.

Ideas

Reflecting ON Reprofiling: FIRST try at Adult Teaching

For any other lecturers in the institution which I taught in, teaching adults is probably a usual thing that they need to do. For me, it was a totally new thing.

I am asked to train a small group on my colleagues to be able to do a bit of programming. It is part of the school’s initiative as well as a national drive to upgrade employees with digital skills. We called such upgrading training a reprofiling exercise.

What are the challenges that I thought I will face?

  • The course should be conducted with only 20% face-to-face time. 80% of the course should be curated and online.
  • My colleagues are also extremely busy people who many are possibly forced will struggle with time to take this course.
  • Of course, I never taught adults before. Yes, I always say that I treat my students as adults, the truth is some of the more controversial techniques that I use in teaching are meant for people without working experience.

Crisis

I like to see such challenges as a crisis. And I like to bring a Chinese perspective into this. This is because, the Chinese characters for the word “Crisis”, 危机, is made up of two very meaningful characters, danger and opportunity. I always feel that seeing opportunities in challenging moments is key to success.

Initial Strategy

What Matters Most

The 20% face-to-face times was extremely crucial to the success on whether my colleagues would be able to “get” programming. After all, programming had a bad name, urban myth knew it as a “you get it or you don’t” sort of subject.

Without the certainty of whether my colleagues are going to have the time to practice programming, I made all face-to-face sessions practice-oriented.

In the first session, we went through how to set up their learning and programming environment involving a couple of installation and creating a learning Lynda.com account.

I also just start programming right away, asking them to follow what I type, flashing out bits and pieces of programming knowledge along the way.

In essence, making sure that they leave the first session with an environment and knowledge of how they can start to programme, an extremely daunting task for first time programmers to learn on their own.

Motivation, Relevance and Just Enough

For all sessions, I start working on problems rather than explaining to them the concepts. This actually flips the way that I usually tackle my lessons, where I will explain concepts first, then tackle the problems.

The main reason was that I felt that there is no need for them to know every piece of concept. Important concepts will come naturally into our discussions when we worked through the problem. The rest can be considered a good to know.

The problems are also specially chosen among one of three themes to make programming more relevant to them:

  • Industry 4.0 (The participants are all engineer-trained)
  • Student result processing
  • Some Singapore-life related use cases (Eg. IPPT Score calculation)

Unlimited Self-evaluation Quizzes and Flexibility

I also crafted out a few self-evaluation quizzes for my colleagues which can be attempted unlimited times. Each answer they give comes with a personalised feedback on whether they are correct or where they might have gone wrong.

I may have given my usual students some bargaining power in terms of choosing their deadlines for assignment submission but to my colleagues, it was full flexibility so that they can work their study plans into their schedule. At the back, I was just encouraging them to submit before the study term begins, telling them that the consequence of submitting after is that they are going to feel more stress once their teaching load kicks in.

Andragogy

Sometimes I wish I had gone for the andragogy course organised by my institution earlier but hey, I’ve already did my best based on whatever I know and whatever ideas I can think of.

Understanding more about Andragogy now and reflecting on my first ever lesson delivery to adults, here are my takeaway points:

What worked really well: Learning Concepts from Problems

The idea of learning concepts along the way while working on a problem seems to work well with my colleagues. Once they have grasped the general concepts, the rest is all about searching for sample codes online to figure out how to do more advanced stuff.

Of course, there were also more stuff which I did, such as providing a set of mock questions and sample answers for the lab test. The lab test is also open book, rightfully so because that’s how most programmers do programming anyway, they code a bit, search for information on the Internet and then code some more.

What seemed lacking: Getting everyone to tap on each other’s knowledge

Robust discussions does not come naturally in my institution. With probably 400 over staff, it’s my 5th year with the institution but I still do not know everyone. One of the big thoughts is how best can I get everyone to talk and help out each other?

I’ve already set up the platform for them: there are both online and offline options for them to share their thoughts but there just seemed to be no incentive to do that, especially a good group of the class is possibly volunteered for the course rather than volunteers.

Or should some face-to-face time be devoted to pair work?

Then again, time is limited and I need them to be individually proficient for this fundamental course. However, I am glad that most of them isn’t too shy to approach me at all. The constant engagement and “love emails” I wrote to them paid off.

Man, it’s tough to change “deep-seated cultural issues” 😀 Asians are just really shy. I myself would probably bahave like that in a coding class too.

What could have been better: Getting them started

Part of what I did during the first session was that I got them started to install the required software on their laptops and start programming straight away, even if they don’t know a single thing about programming.

It didn’t work as well as I expected. I still find people who are not sure how to open what files to write codes and to run the codes. Others didn’t even successfully set up their laptops ready for development, even though I have packaged them nicely in zip files and gone through the steps in the face-to-face session.

I guessed I also assumed a lot about their technical capabilities to handle the computer and this is where my typical 18-year-old trumps them. For the next run, I’m going to write a step-by-step installation and coding guide. I probably want them to show me how they can write and run their programmes and they can be given a classroom participation score for this.

So, when do I start again?

Journal

simplify… phase two

Bit my lips.
Thank it.
Placed it aside to be given away.

Feel like keeping it.
Thank it.
Placed it in the rubbish bin.

Give up an active pursuit to learn it.
Learn to let go of it.
Told myself doesn’t mean I stop it totally.
Just means more time and more focus for more things that matters more.

Throwing away stuff everyday,
Stopping an active pursuit for something that isn’t active in the first place,
The never ending mission to lighten my load.

Need to be free.
free…

~Flex Tio~

I still think I own too much stuff and have too many passion. The irony is that these passions became passive, and if that’s the case, are they still passion?

I decided to stop learning Cantonese as a 5th language formally. I’m giving away my dictionary of Cantonese Slang to my friend and throwing away the Cantonese Drama which I never watched. But this doesn’t stop me from learning a bit of Cantonese here and there right?

And there’s so much more passion and hobbies I have that I better have some clarity how I want to pursue them soon.

Journal

motivation

“Go go! Just go for it!” he shouted at the top of his voice and he came running from behind, passed me and sprint off forward.

He wasn’t anyone who I know, just someone who is taking the Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT) with me. He chose to cheered on even though I’m sure he is freaking tired. It was infectious.

I reciprocated. I widen my steps and took my best attempt to sprint towards to finish line too, completing my 2.4km run station just behind him, getting my first ever Gold standard!

It was a goal I had for previous years but as I never did achieve it, I drop it out of my New Year Resolution for the past two years. Getting a knack that I could do this this time, I committed for a goal to gold just six weeks before!

As I proudly showed my comrades, who are relaxing at the stadium stand with their fruit juice, the number “5” chip which I got from the run (which meant that I came in 5th out of the cohort of 35 odd), fellow comrade AC chirped in:

At this age, you still can accomplish a Gold, you know that when you believe, you can do anything. Really.

Well, I guess I can. Thank you both of you for your motivation during the run and the after thoughts inspiration. I’ll remember this dearly.