This month I started my second and final year as a graduate student. In light of that, I have come up with some rules and expectations for myself for the new school year. Many will be really basic things but I think they’ll be important.

1. Don’t wake up later than 8AM.
I put the most challenging one to be the first one. This might sound like a big deal to many of you folks, but I’ve always been rather naturally nocturnal so this is a big challenge for me. I’ve had jobs where I did graveyard shifts (12AM to 8AM) and I think my body at times still prefers that schedule. Unfortunately for me, almost everyone else operates on a more “normal” schedule when the sun is up, so I’m going to try my best not have such a crazy weird sleeping pattern.

2. Don’t spend more than $50/week on food.
This actually should be really easy for me. A few years back – I think my second year as a vegan – my food expense on average was like $110 a month. I was under this impression that it was nearly impossible to find restaurants and eateries that had vegan food. So I rarely ate out. I bought ingredients and vegetables from local stores and prepared my food at home. Apparently, that had an unintended bonus effect of my food expenses being quite low. Over the recent years, I’ve come to discover great vegan places and with services like Seamless which deliver food right to your home with me just using an app on my iPad, I’ve ended up spending quite a lot of money on food. I think it’s time I try to go back to being more frugal and self-reliant. So far I’m doing pretty good on this. This August, I spent $130 on food. I used Seamless just once. 🙂

3. Write at least one thing a day.
I think writing is one of the most productive, creative actions I’m capable of. I should do more of it. At least one blog a day seems like a worthwhile goal. It might mean that most of the stuff I write won’t be that great, and I’m sure there’ll be days when I can’t think of what to write about, but I suppose that’s the fun challenge of this.

4. Video games are for weekends.
Oh man, this one’s gonna be tough. I own a lot of awesome games that I still haven’t begun to play (like Ni No Kuni, Dishonored, Super Mario Galaxy 2, Beyond: Two Souls), let alone the other games that gets released or I get through Gamefly. I find video games very compelling and I can spend hours playing them. I’m going to be tempted constantly to play beyond the weekends. I’m going to try to limit myself to play only on the weekends, but in case this does become too stringent, I think I can allow myself no more than an hour of play on the weekdays. Oh, come on, I like video games, what can I say?

5. Be more involved with other students and coworkers.
Last year I didn’t interact too much with my colleagues outside my school or work. Part of that was because I felt too overwhelmed to do so. Now I look back and realize I should have been more involved with fellow social work students and coworkers. So I started this year by being involved as a student leader during orientation week, and I’m now a member of the student collect for global social work. I’m starting to keep in better touch with a few of my close colleagues. This being my final year as a graduate student, it’s really important I build and establish a good social network of like-minded, ambitious professionals, so I’ll definitely keep this in mind this year.

6. Call parents at least twice a week.
Yeah, that this is included in this list probably shows that I’m not that great of a son to my parents. It’s just that when I call my mom, man, she can just talk and talk and talk. One phone call can take over an hour and longer. I love my mom, but that can be draining. My dad’s the opposite. He doesn’t really like talking on the phone all that much so our phone conversations can be really quick and end abruptly. Either way, I end up not calling them until they call me. I’m an only child so I realize I have to be a bigger presence in my parents’ lives, so that’s why I think I should try to be in touch with my parents more frequently, at least twice a week.

7. Don’t get behind on class readings.
This one’s obvious. As a graduate social work student, I have a lot of articles and books I’m assigned to read. Last year I think on average I had to read about 300 pages a week, sometimes a lot more. Problem was that last year I had some weeks where I fell behind quite a bit. I need to make sure that doesn’t ever happen this year. I need to make my final year as a college student be a really good one.

I think that’s a pretty good list of resolutions for now. I tried to come up with ones that were really important and beneficial for me, but also, doable. I think it’s a pretty challenging list (especially liming video games to weekends thing), but here’s to hoping I keep well to it this year.