2017 Resolutions Update - May

Posted: June 01, 2017

Hi everyone, Matthew Donovan here with the May update for my 2017 resolutions. May was a good month. It was my first month back at school after my 4 months of co-op. It's been a bit of an adjustment to get back into that, come up with a routine, and really try to find a schedule that fits in everything I need to do. I think this semester has been going well so far, and the spring / summer semester is actually a shortened one, so my last exam will be the first week in August. I'll be out of here basically by the 10th of August, so I should still have a good three weeks in August away from school. Hopefully I can get back home, so I'm looking forward to that. At this point, that's still about two months out. 

Improve both German and Italian, and explore a 4th language
The first update is languages. Languages during the month of May I think went really well. Every once in a while I worked on my German to try and keep that up, and I did upload one ramble in German. I just went outside - it was a nice day outside - and I just talked for about five minutes. I'm hoping to do a few more of those. I might plan them a little bit, but I do like this idea of just going out, rambling, and I know that many people watching my videos might not be able to understand them, but, for me, it's quite enjoyable. I quite enjoy being able to go out and just talk. I learn these languages so that I can use them, and it's just great to be able to speak in German and know that I'm getting some messages across, regardless of how basic they might be, or how few or how many words I actually use. If I get the point across, that's what's most important to me.

Also during the month of May, I dialed back on the iTalki 1-on-1 lessons in Czech. Largely due to time. As I mentioned, I've started a new semester and I want to make sure that I can fit everything in. I have scheduled a few of these, I actually have one upcoming in a few days, and I did do a couple during the month of May, but definitely nowhere near the amount I did in April or March. I believe it was March which was when things died back down, since I'm pretty sure February was the iTalki challenge when I spent about 25 hours talking in mostly Czech but also some German. I haven't been able to match that level, but I have been talking a little bit in Czech and I've also been reading through on LingQ, there are Mini Stories, and there is a story called Who Is She which is broken up into about 25 parts. I progress through that, I'm rereading old sections and reading new sections, and there are also a few different stories. Who Is She is about two pages long, or about 60-90 seconds of audio. I have found other stories, also on LingQ, that are about 10 minutes worth of audio. At this point I'm fairly certain that I have 99% of it down, I can listen to that and I remember most of it. I still don't know how much of that is hearing it again and again and memorizing the text versus the actual words, but what I do find is that when I see those words in other settings I remember them, so I think it's working. I also have moved to the second and even the third in that sort of series, which as I said, has stories that are much longer. I've been working through those, and while it's definitely been a slower month in terms of languages I am still moving forward.

I also spent a couple of days trying to work on French. I think French will be the next thing, and while I don't know where I want to get in French, I do think that if I spend a few months... I did French all the way from grade 1 all the way through to grade 9, and I might have even done it in kindergarten. I've put in at least 8 years of French, potentially even 10. I did stop at grade 9, but that knowledge is in my brain somewhere, and I think that in a few months I can bring it back to the surface and maybe add that language to my repertoire, even if just at a basic level. Right now I remember bits and pieces, Je suis - I am, J'ai - I have... I remember these but not too much, so I did spend a few days during the month of May working on French. I'd like to do that slightly more going forward. I'm not quite sure if June will be the month for that, but that is definitely also on my plate going forward.

In terms of languages, it was a bit of a slower month. I'm still making progress, and I'm still very passionate about this, I just had to put it on the backburner in order to make sure that I had time for school.

Read more. At least a little every day.
My second goal is reading. I've been keeping a spreadsheet, and I think I've read for 60 days in a row. I think it was over 60 days I've read in a row. I did take a pause for about 3 or 4 days for the last weekend in May. I volunteered at a leadership seminar in Mississauga, Ontario, at The University of Toronto Mississauga Campus, and those were incredibly long days. I would get up at 6 or 6:30 in the morning and I often wouldn't be in bed before midnight. I basically said to myself, "This 15 or 20 minutes that I could be reading (since I did bring my book with me) would be better used for sleep". In the big scheme of things whether I read for 3 or 4 extra days doesn't make a huge difference, but making sure that I was as well rested as I could be was very important for the seminar. So I did take a few days off, but I got right back into it when I came back. Ever since I've been back, I picked it up again.

Currently, I'm reading Start with Why by Simon Sinek, and I also finished The Appeal by John Grisham. What I've noticed is that books that I read... I try and read at least one chapter per day - that's my benchmark - but depending on the book, depending on the typeface, depending on how big the words are and how long the chapters are, that's what I set, and I basically try to read the same amount every day. A couple months ago I read The Litigators by John Grisham, and I read two chapters every day. So on the first day I would read chapters 1 and 2, and every single day I would just read until I hit an odd numbered chapter. So I would read up until chapter 3, and then chapter 5, and so on, except for the last day when I think I read 10 chapters just to get the book finished. The next book I read was The Appeal by John Grisham, and that book had slightly longer chapters so I only read one chapter per day. As a result, it took me about a month to finish that book. Now, I still finished the book and I was still reading every night, but I was reading fewer words... overall I was reading less.

Right now, I'm reading Start with Why by Simon Sinek, and the book is divided into about 10 sections - each section being much longer than the chapters in John Grisham. So I'm reading more each day in terms of quantity of time, and this is something that I need to play with and work on to figure out what the best way is to divide the books that I'm reading in order to ensure that I finish them in a timely manner. Do I need to get through a book each week? No, I think I'm okay with a book every two or even every three weeks if that's what it comes down, but the John Grisham book The Appeal took me about five weeks to get through and I just found that to be much too long. Overall, reading is good. I'm making progress, and other than that setback at the end of May, which was, as I said, a conscious decision to stop for the weekend, I read every day through May. So reading has been going well.

Follow the Couch to 5K program with the goal of entering a race during the summer
Exercise is also going very well. Unlike reading, I don't pretend to be an expert in the exercise space. You may remember that at the start of the year my goal was simply to run a little bit. At the start of the year, I probably couldn't even run for 5 minutes... maybe depending on the speed, but there's no way that I could run for more than 10 minutes, regardless of the speed. So I don't claim to be an expert in the exercise field, but my understanding is that unlike reading it's not something you can do every day. I do take breaks, I try to take at least one day off every week, sometimes two. The couch to 5K program that I follow recommends running for one day and then taking the next day off, which I've been trying to follow.

Also this past month I've also started swimming. Now that co-op is finished I've had more time to go and swim at the Laurier pool, and since the scheduling fits a little bit better I've also been swimming and trying to fit that in with my running. Currently I'm just running on the treadmill but hopefully now that the weather is nice I can go outside. I also bought a new watch that has a GPS in order to track my distance and speed, and it also tracks my swimming.

May has been a good month in terms of exercise. I have a spreadsheet that has my distance, time, how long I spent, and all of that, and May has been a good month. Unlike the first four months where I might have done a couple of days of running, I really think that now that I'm back in school, I make an effort, usually at the end of the day when I'm still on campus, before I leave, I go and sometimes I swim if the schedule works, otherwise I make an effort to run when I get back to my building. May has been a good month, and I think the biggest factor is simply time. Earlier in the year, yes, it was an excuse, but I was saying that I didn't have the time to go running or that I didn't have the time to go exercise. Yes, motivated people would not let that stop them and they would find the time, but now that co-op is finished and now that I've started school again, I simply have more time available and I can fit in more things. I think I said in an earlier video, I basically have a priority list. Languages is the most important to me, and then I would say reading, and then it's exercise. During co-op, I was able to get in language, and I was able to get in a little bit of reading, but I couldn't get in exercise. Now that I'm back in school with more time available, I'm able to get 1, 2, and 3 off my priority list and into my schedule. I can be achieving those, and May has been a good month in terms of exercise.

One other thing that I do want to point out here, is, I think it's Week 5 Day 3 of the Couch to 5K program... C25K.com for anyone who is interested - I like the program and it has really gotten me progressing through. Just about a week and a half ago, the regimen that I supposed to work on was 20 minutes of running, and I run at 6 miles/hour on the treadmill which is about 10 km/hour, so it's by no means fantastic and by no means a great speed, but I was able to run for 20 minutes straight. I went about 2 miles, so I guess 3 or 3.5 kilometres. I know it's not fantastic, but it is progress. When I finished that, I was really able to reflect and look at that to say "I don't think I could have done this at the start of the year... I definitely couldn't have done this at that speed at the start of the year", so I'm definitely progressing. It's very good to be able to look back and see the progress. I'm very happy with the exercise and I look forward to where I will be in a couple m

Enjoy the first co-op term of my program
Co-op is finished... I did the co-op wrap-up in my previous video since I finished in April. Not much to talk about in the month of May. We don't start looking for another co-op job until September, and I'm not sure where I would like to work or what I would like to do. So this is on hold for right now.

Keep at least a 10.5 GPA across all courses
Keeping a 10.5 GPA. Ideally I would like to keep a 10.6 GPA this semester. That's the GPA that I need in order to keep my scholarship. Is this achievable? I don't know. It's definitely what I'm aiming for, and I have calculated the different grades that I can get in each of my different courses in order to achieve this, and I think it is achievable. I'm not sure, but I'm definitely going to try. Come September, if it turns out that I didn't keep that 10.6, at least I'll know that I tried and gave it my best shot. I don't have any major marks back at this point, so it's tough to say whether or not I'm on track. Again, a lot of my final marks in my courses come from final exams. That's just the way things work mostly in the faculty of math. My final exams can be worth 55, 60, or even 65% of my final grade, so it's important that I do well on those. That's not to say that the midterms or assignments aren't important, but it's really all building towards that final exam. For me, I treat the assignments and the midterm as a way to learn and make sure that I know the material so that I can be fully prepared for the final exam. Hopefully I'll have more of an update for you at the end of June when I get some marks back. As I said, at this point, other than a few very minor assignments I haven't received any marks back. I've written three midterms, two of which actually occurred in June prior to my filming this, and I've also completed a project which we haven't received back yet either. Hopefully I'll have more updates for you at the end of June, but the goal is still there. I've actually upped it a little bit to a 10.6 GPA which will be tough, but I think that as long as I put in the time and make sure that I'm working ahead, preparing for classes, going over the material, and understanding, I think this is achievable. We'll see how things go but I'll have more of an update next month.

Stay involved during semesters 4 & 5
Finally, staying involved. I mentioned earlier in the year two main things that I've applied for come the fall. I applied to be a business TA for first-year business classes, and I've also applied to me a member of Laurier's JDC case competition team. Laurier won school of the year for 7 years in a row, and I would love to be a part of this team, to work with them on winning in the future. It seems like a great atmosphere and everyone I've talked to who has been on the team has had nothing but great things to say about that. Those are the two main things that I've applied for come the fall. I've had to go through some interview processes for both of those during the month of May, and I should hear back quite soon - either this week or next week - about whether or not I've been successful with my applications, and I'll have more information at the end of June. Those are two main things that I'm interested in for the fall, and I also have my Emergency Response Team promotions executive role. I'll be in that role... I started actually during the month of May. We don't do much during the summer, especially not during the month of May, but we are doing a lot in preparation for Orientation Week and coming out strong in September, so that will be still to come probably next month and the month after. I've had a few jobs and tasks related to that which I have had to work on.

For the most part... getting involved this semester, I am on a softball team, many of the Double Degrees are together on a softball team. We aren't very good, I think we've won two games out of probably ten that we've played so far, so I don't think that we are in contention for the top spot, but we definitely have fun when we come out and play - at least I have fun, and I think the rest of the team does as well. So I'm working on that, but I think that's the biggest thing that I'm getting involved with this semester. I continue to be the webmaster for the Double Degree club, but I'm looking to actually step down from that position at the end of this term. I need to reevaluate and I want to do fewer things but do them very well and dedicate a lot of time and energy to those. Webmaster - I don't mind doing it - but it's more of a small thing where tasks pop up every once in a while, and it's tough to schedule them. So what happens is that every once in a while, these tasks pop up and they can be an inconvenience if they pop up at a bad time, when I'm studying for midterms, or when I have other work going on. What I would like to do is step back from that so I don't have to worry about that, and refocus myself on different areas where I know exactly what the commitment is, and while the commitment might likely be a lot more than what it would be, for example, as the webmaster, I'll be expecting it, hopefully it will be more consistent, and I can plan and work around that.

I might do another video on this later, but there's a YouTube video that shares a story I quite enjoy. It has to do with fitting rocks into a jar, and how to do that effectively to fill the jar. I think that's a great metaphor for scheduling in life and scheduling one's activities, how do you schedule, what do you schedule first, and how do you make sure you can get everything to fit. As I said, that's a YouTube video that I'll probably talk about in a separate video later.


I think that's the update for the month of May. Lots of progress. Looking back at the month of May, I'm very happy. I started a new semester, I've made great progress on the reading front, great progress on the exercise front, and while languages slowed down a little bit, I continue to move forward. Every once in a while I think it's important to have that reflection and a bit of a slower period to really refocus and come out strong. Co-op is finished, and I was very pleased with my four months of co-op. I quite enjoyed my time at Adknown. GPA I think will be tough but I think it's definitely doable. I know what my goal is, and now it's time to achieve that. And finally staying involved is a lot tougher during the spring / summer semester as there are fewer people on campus, but I still find that I'm feeling just as fulfilled. Every once in a while, usually come the weekends, I find that there's not as much going on, whereas during the fall or winter semester there were always things that I could be working on or looking ahead to the next week in terms of clubs or volunteering... doing this or doing that. So I've been finding that there is less of that, but it's just a matter of taking that, really grab it, and refocus. Say, "It's good that there's less going on in terms of extracurriculars, especially during this semester where I want to focus on my academics." Take pride, take joy, and enjoy the fact that there's less going on externally, and really focus and hopefully I can achieve that 10.6 GPA.

That's the May update. I'll be with you again in another month for the June update, and as I said I'll probably do another talk in German, or maybe two. I quite enjoyed them. Hopefully I'll do another couple of those, and I might see if I can upload some other videos just to put some content out. As always, thanks for watching, and I'll talk to you soon. Bye. 


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