Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Countdown to 2015 - Create Systems, not Resolutions.

As we approach the new year, I start to find myself busy again. SMU has started spamming the readings for the next semester and I've been finding that I'm spending more time clearing the cases for the upcoming semester, so this has not been very much of a break in spite of being a month long.

After working on getting my condo into a livable state, things have been so comfortable that I have not been able to travel our of the country before school reopens. Hopefully, I would be able to budget for some travel during the next round of holidays although that's the break where the bulk of internships and pro-bono work would take place. 

Recently, many financial bloggers have started sharing their resolution plans with everyone. Being conscientious in nature, I expect most of them to succeed in their resolutions. 

This year, I'm going to move away from crafting my resolutions. Instead I'm going to see if it's possible to have a better year by employing the "Systems, not goals" approach proposed by Scott Adam's How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

So for 2015 I'm going to stick with the following systems.

a) Health and exercise system

For my health and exercise, I'm going to use up the ridiculous $320 I now pay as conservancy for my condominium by trying to swim or cross-train 3 times a week. Not much motivation is required these days as gym facilities is s short walk from my unit which is on the first floor. For a start, I will stick to a 30 min session and push it to 45 min once my body gets used to it.

b) A "system" of no touching of capital 

My finances are taking a back seat in 2015 as all I need to do is not touch my capital for one more year. I have two more major installments of close to $18,000 each to clear this year and need to worry about the final pay-out in October. Pay-out for April was partially offset by SMU thanks to my good fortune last semester. With any luck, I would have some ready cash to get into the markets next December.

While I might regret some of my market moves later, I have not touched my portfolio for the greater part of 2014. While there are few really bad dogs in my portfolio, I am strangely unaffected by the drop in oil prices. Maybe next year, my real estate holdings may take a hit when interest rates start to rise.

c) Better system to cope with school-work.

As a student, I would expect most of the effort to be concentrated on my studies in 2015. My current approach to my school-work leaves much more to be desired. I am still clueless on how to write a winning essay and have a mediocre strategy for exams.

My first system to implement is to look-out for resources on writing decent legal essays and treating it as a topic of study two weeks into the term. This also means knowing the exam Qs early so that question spotting can take place throughout the semester.

The second system is to overhaul my inefficient studying process. Despite acting really in the semester on all my assignments, there was a lot of rework getting my notes up which facilitates exam preparation. Exam-grade notes are now prepared as part of seminar preparation, so that I can avoid the nasty panic of creating notes only just weeks before the finals. In this case, the Kaizen guys understand what it's like to get it right the first time. Some rote learning cannot be avoided in an open book system as precious minutes can be saved if there is no need to refer to the cheat sheet.

To ensure that I have resources to put these systems to work, I would have to hold back on DMing my games and instead, will participate as a player in the next semester, Fortunately, someone else is ready to take on the mantle of Game-master while I plan my aggressive campaign to survive Semester 2 of the JD programme in SMU.


  1. you are privilege because you have control over your time, and hence you can plan your meals. the key to all is more nutrition than exercise, or when you eat.

    exercise is a good to have.

  2. I try to think of health being a function of both nutrition and exercise lah.

    But I like to eat.

  3. 320$ is really high for an ec!

  4. Hi Chris,

    To me, systems help with resolutions.

    If there is no "end goal", one would find it hard pressed to justify a system.

    I personally like systems too. They help to create and maintain habits that are effective.