New (Academic) Year’s Resolutions

A plan for the 2016 academic year


Here in Japan the academic year runs from April until March, so we are coming up to the start of the 2016 one.

I have a few projects and plans:

  1. New ‘high-level’ classes at Tohoku University
    From this year the university has introduced new high-level classes that students can choose to join instead of their regular English classes. This is a new system so we are not sure what it is going to look like. Assuming I get some students (it’s not certain, particularly for my Friday evening class!) I will be teaching advanced extensive reading classes and an advanced discussion class on the topic of personal finance. Very much looking forward to both of these.
  2. PELLT (practical English language learning and teaching) website
    This is a new website aimed at bringing together all our content, from self-produced work such as the ER@TU manual and the about-to-be-released PDR discussion method handbook, to curated links for learners and teachers. I’m very excited about PELLT and look forward to sharing more as it develops.
  3. A few writing projects that I can’t talk about yet 🙂
    I’ll post more about these if progress happens (certainly not a sure thing based on looking at my to-do list).
  4. More on and
    I’m planning to write more regularly for my two remaining blogs. Please share any content you enjoyed on social media -it really helps me to reach more people.
  5. Year two at the Cambridge Academy
    The other teachers at Cambridge just reorganized the reading classroom and it looks great. Looking forward to seeing the program develop as it goes into its second year. I’m particularly interested in how students progress -having students going into the second year of the program is uncharted territory.
  6. Doing less
    I am hoping to cut down on the number of things I do, so I can put more time into the remaining ones. If all goes to plan I’ll be teaching fewer classes and taking on fewer projects. This is something I struggle with but after fifteen years working flat out I need to find a bit of balance in my life.

How about you? Anything interesting on the horizon?

2015 in Review, 2016 Preview


Last year was pretty good overall. Lots of progress on ongoing projects and some good foundations built for 2016. Here are some highlights:

  1. Received two important prizes from Tohoku University for my work on the extensive reading program.
  2. Really improved the extensive reading and discussion classes at Tohoku University. This was surprising, as I had considered them ‘finished’ and perfectly functional, but the upgrades just suggested themselves.
  3. Helped write the PDR Handbook, a guide to using discussion in classes with high school and university students (expect to hear a lot more about this as we get closer to publication date in March).
  4. Set up the Cambridge Academy and developed it.
  5. Gave my first workshops on personal finance. Much more on this on my website RetireJapan.
  6. Got my finances really sorted out.
  7. Took a family trip to Koh Samui (probably the last chance for us to get everyone together in one place).

My main goal for 2016 is to regain some work/life balance. I want to establish healthy sleeping, eating, and exercise habits. I want to schedule leisure and family time as well as work. I want to turn down most opportunities (even the ones I would have said yes to six months ago). I am mainly going to focus on:

  1. Developing my classes at Tohoku University. We have some new ‘advanced’ classes that are going to be interesting to experiment with. Most exciting for me is that I am going to run some classes for second years teaching personal finance in English.
  2. Write the 2nd edition of the ER@TU Handbook. Hoping to have this done by March. It is very overdue.
  3. Launch and develop a new website for teachers and learners of English called PELLT (Practical English Language Learning and Teaching). More on that once we have something to share.
  4. Learn how to use Camtasia and produce short videos for teachers and learners.
  5. Continue to develop the Cambridge Academy. I’ll have a post on the first year soon.
  6. Continue to develop RetireJapan. I am hoping to write some ebooks for the site this year.

With some luck and help from my friends (Dan E. in particular) I hope to get at least one of those done this year 😉

What does your 2016 look like?

31 Dec 2013, 9:10am
goals new year

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2013 Annual Review

Last year I started doing an annual review and yearly plan at the end of the year.

iMOM 2013-14 Calendar-JAN14

2013 was a pretty good year for me. Accomplished a lot, failed to accomplish even more, have a big list of things to get on with next year.

I’m going to try and keep up a bunch of habits, as well as aim at bigger goals. Here are my habits for 2014:

  • do quarterly, fortnightly, and daily planning
    I’ve been experimenting with this for the last couple of months, and it’s pretty powerful stuff. Especially like the medium-term planning.
  • meditate every day
    I want to start meditating. Everyone says it is incredibly beneficial, so I am going to try to do 5 minutes every morning.
  • strength training
    I am back on the Stronglifts 5×5 program, but this time I’m only going to the gym twice a week instead of three times. It’s working much better for me: better recovery and less time pressure.
  • improve Japanese language skills
    I am going to continue doing anki every day and try to read at least one book a month in Japanese. This has always evaded me so far so I hope 2014 will be the year when I can actually make this into a habit.
  • intermittent fasting
    I did this for most of 2013, and it suits me very well so I plan to continue. Basically you don’t eat until the afternoon, so you effectively fast for 16 hours a day and only eat during an 8-hour window. More info here.

The focus on habits is due to realizing that habits are the base of all our behaviour: good habits, good lifestyle. The list above should be achievable, as I am already good at a couple of them. Trying to create too many new habits means you will probably fail.

The other thing I really need to work on is not wasting time online, but seeing how it is basically my kryptonite, I am not too hopeful 🙂

How about you? Any resolutions or goals for next year?

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