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Once again, I find myself looking back on a year past, remembering what I’ve done and evaluating the changes in my life. A year really is an arbitrary measurement, but it’s a familiar one and one that’s easy to use as a metric.

Last New Year’s

I don’t think I really did any sort of systematic goal setting during the last new year. At the time, I was having too much fun hanging out with my girlfriend of the time, working on the school and reading the sci-fi books Poagao had lent me.

I do remember what my goals were, though. I wanted to really turn the school into something great– not just a competitive business, but something my students would someday look back upon and consider to have changed their lives for the better.

I wasn’t too terribly focused on learning Chinese at that point. I was already well past the level required for daily living, and I’d finished my two children’s books that I’d assigned myself on my 28th birthday. My social life was also great, especially during the summer while Eric was in town.

I think fitness was something of a minor goal, but I can’t remember too well.

Progress with the school

The one thing I put the most of my heart into, the school, has done relatively well. It’s still not really making much money, but I’m really, really happy with the quality of the education. My highest level class, which I took from absolute beginners 2 years ago, has read over a dozen level two graded readers (OUP, Penguin and Cambridge), and had few problems understanding a level 3 reader, Sleepy Hollow, entirely from listening to its accompanying CD. Not bad for just 4 class hours a week for two years.

The parents seem to be pleased, too. I still have 80% of the students from my very first class that I opened just over two years ago. One who had left for a year even came back this summer!

It’s a bit difficult to calculate school growth, though. Some of the growth in the size of the school was bought and probably at a higher price than we should have paid when we bought out Ding’s. With the school came a lot of students, many who left when we moved in, and a couple of part time teachers, one of whom is still with us.

Just looking at the total number of students in our evening classes, our growth is an astounding +181% from December 2007 to December 2008. A fairer comparison would be to look at just the number of students in my own evening classes, and that comes up to a less impressive +84% over the past year. The afternoon classes, which I taught for the last two years, but which a new teacher has taken over for this year are up about 40%. Student numbers for our advanced classes have been pretty flat, but we’ve revised our definition of “advanced” sharply upwards.

Being such a small school, growth is pretty easy to come by. The coming year will be the real test. If we can grow by anything like the same rate this coming year, then it will be clear we’re offering something people really want.

Other stuff

I made limited progress in terms of Chinese learning or getting in better shape.

I’m working my way through a children’s book, which seems devoted to making sure Taiwanese children believe in precursor civilizations, the Loch Ness Monster, the bermuda triangle and the existence of great pyramids and a sphinx on Mars. I’m only reading a few pages a week, though.

I’ve been running once or twice a week, but I push myself hard occasionally. My resting pulse is now down from about 67 to 55, and my blood pressure is now on the low end of normal, but I have pretty much the same weight as before.

Goals

For the time being, I feel content to continue down my current path. I do want to see if I can start using my Japanese a bit more than I have been, though. Watching Heroes, all the parts with Hiro Nakamura and his adventures have been making me think about looking for a conversation partner some podcasts and a JLPT study guide.

Other New Year Posts:
Thoughts on 2008(yuehan.org)

I haven’t started my diet yet, but I have been taking advantage of my gym membership now that I live in a city that actually has gyms. I have two basic sorts of weightlifting workouts. My “pushing” workout consists of bench presses, dumbbell shoulder raises, dips, and a tricep isolation exercise. My “pulling” workout consists of lat pulls, rows, and bicep curls. I also have two basic running workouts. My “short” runs are 10 minutes long and I try to keep my heart rate around 180 beats per minute. My “normal” runs are 40 minutes long and I try to run at 80% of the speed of my most recent short runs. Here’s my basic workout plan:
continue reading…

Tomorrow, I turn 28. That means that one more year of my life is gone, and that I can’t have it back, ever. All my decisions, conscious and unconscious, have taken what was once an infinite tree of years that could have been, and ruthlessly pruned them down to a single year that was. Some things were good- I made some great friends that I will likely know for many more years to come, I managed to save about a thousand $US a month, and I found a great way to express myself and organize my thoughts in blogging. Other things weren’t so good- I’ve gotten even more out of shape, I haven’t learned too much Chinese, and I haven’t made so much progress in terms of career development. As such, I need to choose goals for my next year, now.

Before I turn 29, I’ll…

  • Improve my Chinese: I’ll learn how to read and write 500 more Chinese characters, and I’ll also read at least five kid’s books in Chinese.
  • Lose 50 pounds: I know I don’t look it, but I’m 225 pounds. I know I’ll be losing a fair bit of muscle as I drop down to 175; I’m aware of the trade-offs, and I accept them.
  • Be a good friend to at least two more people than I am now.
  • Give more: instead of just giving a tenth of my income to charity, I’ll also give some of my time to help those less fortunate than I am. It’s a small start, but I’ll do at least 20 hours of volunteer work.
  • Enjoy the good things: I’ll think less about what I’m unhappy with, and more about what I have to be grateful for.