I had five resolutions for 2017, which was one of the best years of my life (a pattern I hope to continue into the future, with each year being better than the last). I accomplished much of what I had set out to do (more precisely, approximately four out of five):
1. To publish a book on simulation conferences: No book was published, but I instead am launching a web-based platform with the same content, about Model United Nations, Model ASEAN, and simulation conferences in Singapore (0.5/1).
2. To volunteer as a researcher: I have continued to volunteer remotely for the charities – especially on data analysis and potential research studies – and completed the talent management project with the Asia Philanthropy Circle (1/1).
3. To continue with “a book a week”: 52 books this year (actually closer to 60). Will definitely continue this (1/1).
4. To continue blogging and writing: Sadly, “The Middle Ground” is no more. Even though I was not as active, I did churn out a few substantial pieces, including a content analysis of the 51 National Day Rally speeches, social service salaries, and the Individual Giving Survey in Singapore. I did start a weekly newsletter, but did not revamp the aesthetics of this blog (0.5/1).
5. To prepare for my next phase: I started on my four-year PhD programme (having survived the brutal application process), and while I am just one quarter into the journey the experience thus far has been productive, and I am thankful (1/1).
Looking ahead to 2018, these are my five resolutions for the coming year:
1. To start a pilot (social service) research study in Singapore:
It will take some time to formulate the research questions and to secure buy-in from the social service agencies I intend to work with, but the general plan is to work with at-risk youth in Singapore, and more specifically to identify risk factors and to improve interventions (and their evaluation). The study should not be completed by the end of 2018, though I should have funding proposals and approvals sent out, while preparing for the data collection process.
Tangential to this resolution is a plan to start picking up coding, to directly benefit my research goals.
2. To continue with the blogging and the writing:
Specifically, I should improve the aesthetics or readability of the site (especially how pages are formatted, and the design of each post), as I continue with “a book a week” (posted every Thursday) as well as the weekly roundup and newsletter (posted every Saturday). Substantively, the quality of my commentary on Singapore news can be improved (posted every Monday or Tuesday). Website hits should go up by 50 per cent, and I want to hit 500 subscribers for the newsletter.
3. To get the gamified skilled volunteerism platform up and running, and to continue the working relationships with charities:
Now that we have secured funding from the Ministry of Culture, Community, and Youth – under the “Our Singapore Fund” – to develop the web-based platform, the site should be developed, tested, and continuously improved. At the same time, I want to continue the working relationships with the charities not just for the platform, but also to potentially involve them in other research projects.
4. To travel within Los Angeles, and to pick up photography as a hobby:
Work and study at UCLA (as well as side projects in Singapore) have been the emphases in the first quarter of the PhD programme, and while they are fulfilling I should be a little more adventurous, to first venture out of the cocoon of the university and my neighbourhood, to explore different parts and neighbourhoods of the city. Perhaps at the end of the second quarter, I would like to pick up photography as a hobby, so that I could better document these trips. In the even longer term, I could even use the photographs I take, build up a personal portfolio, and use them for my blog articles too.
5. To relax and to let loose:
Because this is hard to measure or quantify, this is not strictly a resolution. Yet as an extension of the preceding resolution – and with my professional and academic plans in place – I should pay more attention to my private life, and learn to not be so uptight about it. This would, for instance, mean having a little more fun, and adding more spontaneity too.