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I have spent several days sorting documents which have been piled up in my study and my bedroom, and disposing many which I do not need any more. (I am quite organized and have filed documents going up over a decade ago!)  The task came to fill several garbage bags.  In the process, I reviewed my activities over the past few years.  (I did not mean to do this, but I found my own reviews I prepared every year.)  I found out that I did quite an extensive review of my activities at the year end, in most cases, so that I could develop a plan for next year.

Last year was an exception. I did very rough review at the end of the year, but not as extensive as I used to do. As I explored the causes,  I found I was under constant time pressure and did  not do as extensive review as before.  Then I realized that my big challenge last year was to learn programming by online course.

Programming has been something I always wanted to try and had tried self study program before, only to fail in the process.

This time, I took the online course which came with many assignments.  I was always pressed for time (as I was doing new initiatives and projects) and struggled so much.  In fact, when I was on vacation (in California, and in British Columbia) or away for conferences (in Tianjin and in New York), I worked on the assignment and spent so much time on the course.  It cost considerable amount of money, too.  Now I realize where my time, money and energy went last year! (It was good I managed to finish two courses I took though barely.)

We are aware of the importance of lifelong learning today.  In fact, I am one of those that advocate the idea.  Now I realize that it takes so much energy, time and money.  Besides, it requires discipline and strong will to continue, particularly when you have your day/night job.  In that sense, online course is good as it forces you to keep up. (I have had difficulty of learning stats and calculus I began with textbooks myself as I do not force myself to follow the strict schedule.) Now that I realize the requirement, I can refresh myself and start new phase of lifelong learning tomorrow! This is no joke!

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