2017 Resolutions Update - January

Posted: February 01, 2017

Hi everyone, Matthew Donovan here. This video is a little late, but I wanted to post it. Better late than never is what they always say. So, this is the January update for my 2017 resolutions. We're here in the end of February now, so in a couple of days I will have the February video up, but January comes first, so this needed to happen. I have my list of resolutions here. The first resolution is to improve the languages that I already know and start working on a new one.

Improve both German and Italian, and explore a 4th language
What did I do in January? If you follow along on my YouTube channel, you will know that I started learning Czech. In the month of January, I started using the beginner content on LingQ.com, a great website that I highly recommend. It has been a tremendous help so far in my language learning. In the month of January, primarily what I have done is that I started reading through lessons on LingQ, listening as well as reading, starting to learn new words, and learning beginner content. Once or twice I have spoken with a lady in my building who is from the Czech Republic - she is one of the main reasons I was initially motivated to learn Czech. Also, near the end of January, I went to iTalki.com and booked some lessons.  What you are able to do on iTalki is book an hour, 30 minutes, or 90 minutes of lessons with speakers. They aren't necessarily native speakers - I tend to look only for native speakers - but you are able to book sessions of time and then they are essentially lessons. That being said, there are different levels of teachers, and some members are simply speakers of the language who are trying to earn some income on the side. I had a few lessons during the end of January, and I've booked a whole bunch of lessons for the month of February. I think this is a great too, and I'm looking forward to having this throughout the rest of my language journey - not only for Czech but also for new languages. I think it's so important to be able to speak.

I've spent a lot of time learning Czech, but not so much time reviewing my other languages. Since I'm recording this from the future, I know that a lot has happened during the month of February with regard to my other languages.

Read more. At least a little every day.
January was a good month for this. I've read 3 books, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, The Linguist by Steve Kaufmann, and Traffic: Why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us) by Tom Vanderbilt. All three of those were great books. This pace is a little slow - if I continue to read three books each month I will be at 36 books by the end of the year. I'm hoping to get to at least 50. I don't know if that will be possible, but that is my goal. 50 books read by the end of this year. I might do a second set of videos where I just talk about the books and outline some of my thoughts, but I'm not sure if that will happen. The most important thing is just to read the books. As I said, three books read in January. I highly enjoyed them. They were all different lengths: The Linguist was about 150 pages, David and Goliath was about 400, and Traffic was close to 700 pages. They widely varied in length. Normally what I was doing was reading a chapter before bed, and that was a great way to make sure that I was getting in my reading. At that speed, it's roughly a book per week, depending on if they are slightly longer or slightly shorter. Again, great progress, phenomenal progress. In 2016, looking back, I didn't do a lot of reading, and that is something that I hope to change during this year. 

Follow the Couch to 5K program with the goal of entering a race during the summer
This hasn't happened in the slightest. I went running for one day in January. That was near the end of January, when I was looking through my resolutions and I said, "oh no, I haven't been running." I primarily attribute this to priorities. The top thing on my priority list right now is learning Czech, below that is reading, and unfortunately running is even further down the list. Now, something to consider is that I might be able to listen to Czech or another language in podcast form while I'm running. Typically I listen to music, but it might be more productive to listen to that - and I might be able to knock two things off at once. Or even audio books are another option to listen to. Unfortunately, there hasn't been a lot of progress in terms of running during the month of January, almost none. I still think that this is an important goal, I do need to become more active and I do need to exercise more, so this is definitely something I hope to turn around in the upcoming months. During the month of January, nothing happened in this front. 

Enjoy the first co-op term of my program
Co-op is going well so far. My resolution was just to see how co-op goes and learn from it. January was a good month. January had a lot of training, a lot of learning for me. The systems that we're using, the words that are being said, the acronyms that we have, it's a whole lot of learning. Learning the lingo, learning the process, but the company that I'm working at is absolutely phenomenal. It's a great company, very team focused, the atmosphere is great. We go for team lunches every Wednesday, and I think this is a great opportunity for us to grow and bond as a team, and really get to know one another. It's a very different atmosphere from what I had anticipated. It's very team focused, and I would say that it's a low-pressure environment. I'm not worried about making mistakes, for example, "Will I get fired?" I think it's understood that all of us are learning, and we have a long ways to go. Also that where we will be one day is not necessarily where we are today, we have a long ways to go. Lots of growing that needs to get done, but I'm very happy with that. I'm very happy with my co-op and all that has happened during the month of January.

Keep at least a 10.5 GPA across all courses
I'm on co-op right now, so school isn't happening. My plan - what I'm hoping to do - is start watching Calculus 3 videos online, or other courses, just to start learning the material. I'm not taking a course during this semester, but having this knowledge and starting these videos will most definitely help to give me a leg up on the material once it is presented in the spring term. My goal of learning or taking an online course isn't happening, so, for the most part, this goal is on hiatus simply because I'm on a co-op term right now.

Stay involved during semesters 4 & 5
This has been done. I'm still volunteering on the Emergency Response Team at Laurier as a general member. I shift, on average, once a week. Every once in a while I have an overnight shift on the weekend, help out at special events, and also attend meetings every other week. A lot of what has been going on is the same as what's been going on last year, the same time commitments: a couple of hours each week for shifts, attend meetings, training, etc. Also, with the Emergency Response Team, I'm on an inner tube water polo team. This semester our games have not been going so well. Last semester we had a team and we won - we were undefeated in our division. This semester, it does not look like we will have the same performance. Right off the bat we lost our first game, so we won't be undefeated, and, at the same time, it doesn't look like we are set to win the championship. But, who knows? There is lots of time for things to turn around. One of our biggest issues is a lack of participation. We barely meet the numbers that we need to have (two of each gender in the water). I'm staying involved, volunteering with the Emergency Response Team, playing on the inner tube water polo team, I also help out with the Double Degree club as their webmaster, so I am getting involved and I am helping out. I'm also looking for further opportunities to get involved and see what happens throughout the rest of the year. This semester while I'm on co-op, I think I'll be less involved. I do want to change that in the summer months - when there will be fewer people on campus, so I think it will be important to stay involved - and, as always, during the fall term when new people join the school and clubs start up again, the semester is a great opportunity to get involved.


That's a quick update on all 6 of my resolutions. I like this format, of just sitting and talking to a camera. Last year I tried to write my review every month. I may transcript these videos, but I find it a lot easier to just sit and talk as opposed to having to type. As well, I'm making these videos for Czech so I'm familiar with the process of filming and uploading from my computer straight to YouTube. That's the update for January. As I said, it is late - in a few days I'll have the February update - but overall January was a good month. It was a good start to the year. There are still avenues and paths that I need to continue down, running most definitely, and even reading is something that I want to increase, but learning Czech is my primary focus. I think that Czech will be the primary thing that I focus on this year. That goal is coming along beautifully. I'm very happy with the progress. 

As always, thanks for watching. I'll talk to you soon. Bye.

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