I had five resolutions each in 2017 and in 2018, and in 2018 – thankfully – I also accomplished much of what I had set out to do at the start of the year (I accomplished approximately 3.75 out of the five resolutions).
1. To start a pilot (social service) research study in Singapore: I started two studies! A grant proposal was also submitted. The first is on the parenting and caregiving structures of adolescents from low-income families, and we are halfway through with data collection. The second is on youth contribution and community service in Singapore, and all interviews were just completed. We hope to produce at least one manuscript for each study by the end of 2019 (1/1).
2. To continue with the blogging and the writing: I did continue with both tasks – a post on Singaporean news on Tuesdays, a book review on Thursdays, and the weekly roundup and newsletter on Saturdays – yet I did not improve the aesthetics or readability of the site, and I did not hit the targets for the website or newsletter (0.5/1).
3. To get the gamified skilled volunteerism platform up and running, and to continue the working relationships with charities: We secured the funding in 2017 and have been developing the web-based platform. Progress towards the official launch, however, has been slow. I have also done a poor job of delegating roles and keeping up (0.5/1).
4. To travel within Los Angeles, and to pick up photography as a hobby: Not only did I travel within Los Angeles, I also brought visiting friends or colleagues around the city! I ventured out of the cocoon of the university and my neighbourhood, and now have a list of favourite places and hangouts. Made it to Las Vegas, Nevada too! (1/1)
5. To relax and to let loose: The criteria from last year was to pay more attention to my private life, to be less uptight and to have more fun, and to add more spontaneity. I would like to think that I made some progress in terms of not allowing school and work to dominate how I lead my life, though I can afford to be more spontaneous (0.75/1).
Looking ahead to 2019, these are my six (one more!) resolutions for the coming year:
1. To produce manuscripts and to communicate research findings to the participating social service agencies:
The first four quarters of the PhD journey has been meaningful and productive: Meaningful, because I have found a career – and more specifically, research areas of interest – which I am passionate about, and where I hope to bring about change; productive, because my advisors and colleagues have been encouraging and I have been able to work on my own research projects and funding proposals. In 2019, I hope to produce one manuscript each for the parenting and caregiving study as well as the youth contribution and community service study, and more importantly to share the findings with the respective social service agencies.
2. To not burn out: To pace myself, to relax, and to let loose:
This is similar to the resolution from 2018, but I am anchoring this resolution on not burning out because I had that feeling towards mid-December, after a year of PhD work, after taking on different projects, and especially after two weeks of conducting 50 interviews on my own (37 of which were done in a single week). A dear friend reminded me – albeit in a clichéd manner – that the PhD journey is a marathon and not a race, and therefore in 2019 I am committed to taking on less and relaxing more.
Tangentially too on relaxation (again, given the resolution from last year), I would like to pick up photography as a hobby. I will start with the iPhone photography kit I had purchased, before investing in a slightly more expensive camera.
3. To improve the quality of my pieces and to craft my research and online identity:
Instead of numerical targets, I would like to concentrate on a list of tangible improvements I can commit to. First, to continue with the Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday routine, but further aim to produce a more investigative or extensive piece once every month. Second, with the newsletter, to actually summarise weekly Singaporean news for the local section instead of plugging my own blog pieces. Third, to redesign my existing blog with a new layout, while creating a new splash or profile page, from which I can craft my research and online identity. And fourth, to consider the value of summarising social service research news.
4. To launch serve.sg and to formalise my involvement with Social Collaborative:
This resolution is straightforward, for it is about following through and setting up systems and processes for the longer term (witnessing the success of the conference organised by the United Nations Association of Singapore has only convinced me of the need to get my hands dirty in the beginning, and how I should build for sustainability). With the gamified skilled volunteerism platform, serve.sg, the formal launch should be done by the second quarter of 2019, and the remaining funds committed to the final round of platform development by the end of the year. With Social Collaborative, I should clear and send out a survey of needs to potential agencies by the first quarter, and organise a roundtable with these agencies by the end of the third quarter.
5. To love (even) better:
This may feel like an odd resolution, though it is perhaps the most important of all. Since the passing of my grandfather in 2016 I resolved to be a better grandson and son, and looking back at the years I have little to no regrets from this point on. Even so, I want to continue with the routine of communicating with my grandmother and my parents every week from Los Angeles and to always think of ways to better express my love and affection. I want to do the same for my friends and loved ones too.
6. To learn Malay:
And I hope to learn Malay. I will probably start in mid-2019, and will definitely rely heavily on friends!