2017 Resolutions Update - April

Posted: May 01, 2017

Hi everyone, Matthew Donovan here. This is the April update for my 2017 resolutions. I'm not sure if it will show up on the video, but behind me on my computer screens, if you go to www.MatthewDonovan.ca/resolutions, I have a list of all of my resolutions. That list has been there since the start of the year, and I'm also putting links to each of my updates. I post these videos and I'm going through, transcribing them, and posting them as blog posts. So you can see this year's posts, and you can also see the past years. Last year I decided I was going to write monthly updates after each month, and the year before that all I did was an end of year, sort of, wrap-up for how my resolutions went. Again, that's www.MatthewDonovan.ca/resolutions. If you're interested in seeing more about what my resolutions are, take a look there.

Improve both German and Italian, and explore a 4th language
The first thing is languages. In April, I reached 100 days of Czech. There is a 100 days of Czech video already on my YouTube channel, but I'm very excited with my progress. Looking back, at the beginning of January I didn't know any Czech at all. Now, again, I'm nowhere near fluent, no where close to where I would like to be, but I've made lots of progress. At this point, I can rattle off sentences. Jsem student, mám knihu. Things like this I know how to say. How are you... Jak se mášWhat's your name... Jak se jmenujete? or Jak se jmenuješ? (Literally, "How are you called?"). Things like this I had no clue how to say at the beginning of January, but I've made lots of progress.

The age old question, or at least the question for at least two months now, is when am I going to stop, and what am I going to do going forward? I still think that I'm going to continue with Czech. If nothing else, at least until 6 months of the year have gone by. Probably even until the end of the year. One of the issues that I'm finding is that I'm very gung-ho. I want to work on new languages, but I need to take the time to improve the languages that I'm working on now. I continue to use LingQ, and LingQ is now my primary tool. I'm using less of iTalki. During the month of April, I watched some videos by Dr. Stephen Krashen, a professor at a university in the States, I don't remember exactly where. He focuses on languages, and he's been mentioned a lot by Steve Kaufmann, whom you may remember as one of the creators and cofounders of LingQ, which is the primary site I've been using to learn Czech. Stephen Krashen talks about comprehensible input to learn a language. If I want to teach you something in German, it's not enough to say Ich sehe ein Hund. But if I have a picture of a dog, I can say Ich sehe ein Hund, and if I point at my eyes and then I point at a dog, now you understand. Ich sehe... I see, ein Hund... a dog. It might be einen Hund, I don't know, I'm not focusing on grammar, especially at this stage.

It's all about comprehensible input. I've been watching a lot of his videos, and one of the things that he says, which I think I believe, and I'm not sure yet, I'll need to spend more time thinking about this and experiencing this, but speaking is not helpful when learning a language. What I did in my two most recent lessons on iTalki is have an 8.5"x11"lined sheet of paper, and I wrote down every single word that I didn't know. If I have to look a word up and translate it, I write it down. Now, Jan, the person I'm speaking with, often uses a lot of words that I don't know, and I know have the ability to write them all down. But a lot of the main words that he uses, the major points in those sentences, I will write those words down. I've done this for two lessons, and I have those lists. I think that this is the best way to learn the words that I actually need to use. It's all about the input, and I think that's really what I've been doing when I have been speaking. It's been all about input, and I learn the words that I need to say, but I don't necessarily know if the act of speaking is reinforcing that. I think it is, because I have to use those words, but I find that even when I read the lessons on LingQ or I listen to the lessons on LingQ, I'm reinforcing. I'm thinking about that afterwards. I will lie in bed at night, and I keep going over these sentences in my head. Obchodní Zástupce is a recent word that I've come across, and it means business representative or salesperson. Again, my pronunciation might not be perfect. But I saw that word, and I keep going over it again and again in my head, and I think this is the process by which I'm going to learn this word. Not because I have to say it in a speaking conversation.

I'm starting to digress here, but the important thing is that I've been making progress. I'm continuing with using LingQ - LingQ is the primary tool that I have been using and that I will be using going forward. I've finally freed up some space on my phone, I've been having some space issues with my phone, but I freed up some space to download the app on my phone, and combined with the fact that now I'm in a school semester, more free time in between classes, I'm excited for where I can go. I think I'll have lots of time to review and go over these short lessons, and I think I'll make good progress. In April I made pretty good progress, as I said, I had lessons on iTalki, I reached 100 days of Czech, and I continued to do LingQ. Going forward, lots of LingQ, and I'm dialing back the iTalki. It's also less of a financial burden, the lessons are fairly inexpensive at about $10/hour, but if I don't necessarily need them, I don't want to pay for them. So that's languages... I have been focusing a lot on Czech but I have been doing a little bit of German on LingQ. I'm curious to know, since I don't want to overlap languages too much, but we'll see how things go.

Read more. At least a little every day.
Reading has been huge. During the month of April I read every single day. I started about two or three days before the end of March, I think the 29th of March is when I started, and every single day I've read at least a chapter. Primarily it depends on the book I'm reading. The first book I read was by John Grisham called The Litigators. It's a good book, I would recommend it. I read two chapters per day, and while I don't have the entire time, but I think it took me about two and a half weeks to get through that. Currently I'm reading The Appeal, also by John Grisham. I'm only reading a chapter per day, and it's a bigger print which means the chapters are longer, but there aren't as many words in them. I think two chapters a day might be too much, but I am considering upping to two chapters per day simply because it's going to take me another two weeks to finish this book and I've already been reading it for about two weeks. It's important that I read every day, and I think it's helpful to read every day, but I need to read more. What I found was that the last day I was reading The Litigators, I read about 150 pages. I think it was 8 chapters that I read on a Saturday. I sat down and I said, "I want to finish this book. I want to see how it ends". I might do that for The Appeal, or I might just start reading two chapters per day. Now, I've changed it up and I'm reading fiction instead of non-fiction. We'll see how this goes, but again, the important thing is to read, and I'm in this habit now. Every day before bed I do my reading, and I'm very exciting. Looking at this chart, I thought I had only picked it up starting in the first week of April, but I was very pleased to say that I've actually read every day through April, and I'm hoping to keep that up in May.

Follow the Couch to 5K program with the goal of entering a race during the summer
In terms of exercise, this has always been the toughest resolution. But I've found that since I've finished co-op - my last day was on the 21st and I went home for a few days, but since I've come back to Waterloo I've had a total mindset shift. I went running three times and I've also started to swim at Laurier. You might remember that my initial goal was simply to follow the Couch to 5K program for running, but I was talking with my father when I was at home, and there are three parts to a triathlon. If my goal is to take part in one with him, I do need to also focus on swimming and I need to focus on cycling. So looking forward, I think April was a good month in terms of the end. Now that co-op has finished, I have a change in my hours, a change in my schedule, and a change in my free time. I think I'm off to the right start, putting in some good effort at the end of April. I think May will be good going forward, and I'm trying to mix things up, with running, swimming, and also biking as well. Especially now that the weather is nicer and I'm shifting back to school with more free time. I'm looking forward to seeing how that goes, but April ended strongly.

Enjoy the first co-op term of my program
My fourth resolution is co-op, and co-op is now finished. I'm done co-op for the year, and I'm very pleased with how co-op went. I think it was a very good learning experience for me, and I learned a lot about the company, the culture, where I wanted to work, how these jobs work, and I don't know if I've talked about this, but this co-op was actually my first real 9 to 5 job. I've done some work in the past, volunteering or doing consulting work for my own clients, but that's largely somewhere where I can pick when I work on that. I have to call clients to invoice them, I have to take a lot of the initiative with the clients. But on co-op, I show up at 9 and I have tasks to work on and things to do. I work until I get these tasks done, and it's not necessarily always 4 o'clock or 5 o'clock, whenever I was going to head out. It's a different mindset shift for sure, and it was a very good experience for me. I'm happy that I went through it, and I'm happy that I finished it. There were 3 other co-op students working on what I was working on, a third-year business student from Laurier, and two other students from Guelph. I'm happy to have met all of them as well, and hopefully we can stay in touch. They're all great people and I'm glad to have met them. As well, the supervisors at Adknown, where I was working as a data analyst, I was able to make connections with. I'm excited to see what the future holds. I'm very pleased to have worked at Adknown, it was a great company. I think my past four months on co-op have been very good, and I would say that this resolution is a success. I didn't have entirely pre-defined goals when I started, I wanted to play it by ear and see how things went, but I think the four month experience was very good and I'm happy now that we're in May. We're five months into the year, and I'm happy to be back in school. I think it's a good change, but I've learned a lot. I was at a small company, and Adknown doesn't have any clients. I think it will be an interesting opportunity to compare and contrast my co-op experience this past term with my experience in January of next year, but also during my third and final co-op. I definitely want to change things up, try different opportunities, different sized companies, and different areas of work. I think that's really what co-op is all about. 

Keep at least a 10.5 GPA across all courses
I'm just getting started on this one, since I had my first day of classes yesterday. It's the second of May as I'm filming this, but this semester is really going to be focused on academics for me. Yes, I have a lot of other things that I want to work on. I still want to work on Czech, I want to do my running, and I want to do my reading. Potentially I would like to also get involved if there are opportunities to do so. I do want to stay involved, but above all I think that my biggest priority, if someone were to say to me, "What am I focusing on this semester?" is definitely academics. I need to keep my grades up in order to keep my scholarship. I have a lot of courses at Waterloo, those are primarily the math courses, and I find them easier to do well in if I put the time in. There's less subjectivity than some of the Laurier classes have, but again - and that could be a controversial statement - I'm looking forward to this semester. I think it's going to be a good one, and I'm excited. I have a lot of things to look forward to, It's going to be a shorter semester as there is no reading week, and exams are finished by the second week of August. It's going to be interesting to see how the semester goes with the nicer weather. There's also MLSB, which is a softball league that goes on in the community, but I'm not going to be taking part in that as the times don't really fit into my schedule and, again, I want to make sure I focus on academics. I'll have more of an update for this goal in a month, when I've completed some midterms and we're a bit further into the semester, but this semester is going to have a huge focus on academics. 

Stay involved during semesters 4 & 5
It's going to be tough, I think, to stay involved during this semester. One of the things that I thought of doing was playing softball in MLSB, but again, it doesn't really fit into my schedule. Staying involved is something that we'll see how it works during the summer. I'm an executive on the Emergency Response Team, and my contract started yesterday. I don't know if we'll be doing much during the summer month, but there may be things going on with that.

I'm looking to get involved in other avenues. I have applied for other positions, and interviews will be taking place during this semester. We'll see how things go. Really, I want to keep my options open. This is my first time at school in the summer, and it will really be a different experience. There are a lot fewer people on the Laurier campus, which means more open spots to study, less traffic and congestion, but it will also mean less ways to get involved. I don't have much to update right now, it will be a matter of exploring, seeing what's available during the upcoming month, and I will have a better update at the end of May.


As always, thanks for watching. I'm just realizing now that I'm starting to blink, I was just swimming and I think the chlorine is irritating my eyes, so my apologies for that, but as always, thanks for watching the videos. I hope you enjoy them. One of the things that I would recommend for your resolutions is to keep a list and write them down. They say that goals that are not written down are just dreams, and I believe in that. That's why I have a section on my website, www.MatthewDonovan.ca/resolutions dedicated to listing all of my resolutions and tracking my progress. Thanks for following along. I'll talk to you in a month with a new update video if I don't post something sooner. Thanks, bye.

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