Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions I’ve decided to instead make plans. Unlike resolutions, which feel like a big commitment, plans are adaptable, flexible and fluid. And also I’ll feel like less of a failure when my plans change (because, life) than I would if I break a resolution. So, here are the professional and personal plans for 2019.

Three years ago I deleted my Facebook account and have not missed a single thing that I care about. Late last year I deleted the Twitter app from my phone and tablet and as a result, stopped checking Twitter every day (I’ve been back once in the past month). I thought that I’d just probably continue to visit in the browser but now that it’s not on my phone I find that I just don’t think about it very much and, contrary to what I expected, I don’t miss it at all. Posts from this blog will keep being sent to Twitter for the time being but I may switch that off as well. Deleting an app from my phone seems like such a small thing but it’s really a thread that, when pulled, causes everything else to move. At some point, I’ll write about my reasons for moving away from social media. In the meantime, I’ll be experimenting with using this site to share the things that I find interesting, as well as more personal stuff.

My writing plans include putting aside an hour and a half every day during the week, usually from 08:30-10:00, which is just for me to write. Obviously, this will need to adapt to the requirements of teaching and admin but that’s my plan. I’m hoping to do a lot more writing both formally (i.e. academic papers) and informally (e.g. writing for The Conversation, and blogging). I currently have 11 articles under review, which I hope to get published during 2019 along with a few more ideas for papers that I have in the pipeline. These are mostly the result of clearing a backlog of papers arising from several projects that came to an end during 2017-2018. Since I don’t have any data from projects that are currently up and running my 2019 articles will most likely be more position/opinion papers that I’m using to build a foundation for my thinking around AI in healthcare and education. Once I’ve used those papers to consolidate the vocabulary and establish a few lines of inquiry, I’ll build a research agenda that should see me through the next 3-5 years.

I have two research projects that I’m busy spinning up; one on internationalisation with student exchange and another on the social implications of AI. The internationalisation project has been funded and includes a 2-week visit to Oslo, along with 5 of our undergraduate students. We’ll also be hosting 3 OsloMet colleagues and 5 of their students in Cape Town as part of the exchange programme. The implications of AI is something that’s been on my mind for the past year or so and I feel like I’m comfortable enough with the topic that I can start building a research plan around it. I’m really excited about these two projects and will share more of the details once we’ve nailed them down.

In May I’ll also be travelling to Geneva for the WCPT conference after having had two abstracts accepted. As part of that visit, I’m working with Ben Ellis, Joost van Wijchen and Guillaume Christe to plan the first In Beta Unconference, which will most likely take place in the days following the conference. If you’re interested in physiotherapy education then watch this space for an announcement in the next couple of weeks. This is part of our bigger plans to develop the In Beta community, which I wrote about during a reflection on 2018. This will most likely be my last time attending WCPT and in future, I’ll be looking at AMEE as my biennial international conference. I’ll also try to attend our local SAAHE conference, although that may not be possible given the significant expense of travelling to Geneva.

I’m going to try and expand the SAAHE podcast conversations that we started last year to include conversations with leaders in health professions education, in addition to the PhD graduates who I’ve been talking to so far. The idea is to talk about the development pathways of academics who have done a lot to drive growth in health professions education. I recorded three conversations near the end of last year and have another few planned for the next couple of months. However, like the In Beta podcast, the biggest challenge is getting the audio edited.

A few years ago I did what I called my 365 project, which was simply taking a photo a day for a year. I’ve re-started the project and have been reminded of just how many things I see every day that are quite beautiful. This is something that I’m really looking forward to, as the collection of a year’s worth of daily photos is both inspiring and wonderful to look back on.

Day 9 of the 365 project: Gaura flowers in the garden.

I’m going to try and get back into playing Go, which I did for a few years and then dropped. I really enjoyed it and can’t remember why I stopped. Last year my wife bought me a Go board (I still need the stones) so hopefully, that’ll be a big enough push to get me started again. Maybe I’ll teach the girls to play.

It’s a bit cliched but I’d like to get more exercise in 2019, especially on the moutain bike. It takes me 10 minutes to cycle to the Tokai mountain bike trails and it’s ridiculous that I don’t go more often.

Mountain biking in Tokai.

I try to read for about 3-4 hours a day and in 2018 I read 30 books (including Neal Stephensons Baroque Cycle trilogy, and Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of our Nature, which are huge monsters) and 5.1 million words in Pocket. My daily reading time includes the minimum of 2 hours I spend commuting during the week, during which I mostly listen to articles I’ve saved in Pocket. I’ve now done a bit of re-shuffling of my daily schedule in an attempt to carve out a little bit more time for reading academic papers, which I’ve realised has been neglected since finishing my PhD.

During the last few weeks of the holidays we spent quite a bit of time spring cleaning the house and doing a bit of work in the garden. Even though we moved in 3 years ago there were still boxes and cupboards that were essentially the same as when we first arrived and dumped stuff into them to get it all off the floor. We did a huge cleanup in the garage, hung some pictures on the walls, donated a ton of stuff to charity, and finally moved an armchair into the study, which I’ve been wanting to do for at least 2 years. The change in my headspace has been amazing and so I’m planning to do more work around the house and garden in 2019. Related to this is the idea that we’d like to go away more for short breaks rather than having a single holiday at the end of the year. We spent 3 days in Greyton earlier this month and it was wonderful to get away somewhere quiet. So we’ll try to build in a few shorter breaks during 2019.

Standing in the Gobos River just outside of Greyton.

I’m going to continue my “No working in the evenings and on weekends” policy, which seems to have gone well in 2018. It means that I need to be really intentional during the 8-9 hours when I’m at work but then when I’m at home I’m mentally not at work, which has been great for my mental health. Speaking of which I’m going to reboot my attempts at daily meditation, spurred in part by the fact that I now have free access to the Waking Up app by Sam Harris as a result of being a paid subscriber to his podcast.

If I get through 2019 having achieved some of what I’ve described here, I think I’ll be pretty happy. If you read this far, thanks and all the best to you for the year ahead.

By Michael Rowe

I'm a lecturer in the Department of Physiotherapy at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. I'm interested in technology, education and healthcare and look for places where these things meet.

One reply on “Plans!”

I agree. Much prefer plans to resolutions. Thank you for sharing, and inspiring me to make more time to read.

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