Alright one month has passed and I am pleased to inform that I have done well with most of my goals. At least I am on track with 6 items, slightly behind on 3 and have to still work on 1 of the 10 goals. But, before I talk about specific goals and give you update, let me share two things stood out from my first month experience - Discipline and Multi-Tasking. For those of you interested in jumping to the results quickly, feel free to check this and move on.
For those of you who have decided to stay with my post let me talk on multi-tasking first. I had always taken pride in the fact that I have very strong levels of engagement. "If I am present then I am present!" I admired myself on that (even if it is a Div 2 game of some obscure sports, I always had hard time listening to directions from Chitra or counting 5 minutes to turn off the hot plates). This relentless focus helped me understand content better, deeper and probably faster. With my resolutions, however, not everything required that level of focus, in fact some required that I don't think about it much (e.g. running) and also there was not enough time in the day any more. So, this was my first learning. Running and planning the vacations while listening to music or thinking for ideas for the new poem or play went side by side; similarly ironing clothes and learning Spanish become one; playing with Maanas while watching TV or cleaning the lawn started to come naturally. I had to make the hard choices on making some activities passive and one key active task at hand, but realized it worked well. I got a sense of having done so many things that I almost become restless if I was doing just one thing, and felt worse if I was not doing anything at all. Before I knew, I was finding time to do new things.
Discipline went even above and beyond multi-tasking. I am realizing how important it is to put a more disciplined lifestyle if I want to make even half way through my goals. Again, not that I had not been a disciplined individual, but I let priorities define what to put under the discipline Radar. Not to be late on my deliveries, meetings, etc. were part of that. But when it came to going to Gym or other personal items, it was easy to slip and I had fallen time and again. This time, I could not afford it. And it was not about - no matter what time I would go to Gym. I had to build a stricter regime. I would go to Gym between 7&9 PM. I would do dishes every night right after dinner is finished and many more that went along with it. The beauty was to put multi-tasking and discipline together. So, I am building a discipline to read when I wait for the planes to take off or any sort of small wait for that matter. I force myself to think creative while on the treadmill (even go through resumes of candidates if I have to)!
So how am I doing with my goals with these learning now? Let me start with the Relational Goals first.
1. Vacation planning:
Here is how it looks for now. I am planning to take one vacation in August with all the immediate family members. While I have to finalize the exact dates and a place still, I am really excited about the response from Chetna Didi and Meenakshi thus far.
For the second vacation, Chitra and I are planning to go in Dec during her break. The idea is to visit some new geography and most probably in Southern-Hemisphere (I want it to be summer wherever we go). High level ideas - South America (Chile, Brazil), Australia/NZ, South Africa (okay this may be a stretch for now).
2. Cooking on Saturdays
This has been by far the most fun activity and quite full-filling too. I started on the first weekend of January with Channa Dal and Mixed Vegetables. Nothing really crazy but it was good to back to the hot plates. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Of course having Chitra next to me was a big help but I think I did quite good on my own too. I didn’t rush through it – I was really having a good time with cooking. I think having a glass of wine to go along had something to do with it. I was playing with Maanas, watching TV, talking to friends on phone. Pretty good time! Finally, when Dad told me this definitely does not looks like someone's first attempt, I was quite content.
The next week, I decided to go for something better – how about egg Biryani? Voila, the cook in me was back. It was good, in fact it was much better than good – it was great. I knew I am loving it now.
After one week break in between (as we had to go to a friend's place), I went back to Kitchen last week and wanted to experiment more. Malaai Kofta – why not, I said and went for it. Little did I know the intricacy of deep frying… tried and tried and tried more. Finally, Chitra came to my rescue with a few suggestions and I could have the dinner ready by 8:15. Going by Dad's comments again, "why are you wasting your time in consulting… " I think those were quite good!... another quote for the week BTW, "I am the chef, you are the cook… " (Stupid me to Chitra just before going for deep frying the Koftas)
3. Washing clothes, dishes over weekend
Nothing much to add here but for the fact that I learnt using our $1000 Washing Machine and know the difference between Eco Wash and Whitest White cleaning now. Also, one thing which surprised me is that unlike the dryers I had used in those big Laundries, our dryer had a sensor to understand if the clothes have dried on not. Pretty cool – isn’t it! As for the tracking, all 4 weekends, I have been doing my duties religiously.
4. Develop an activity with Chitra
When I thought about it, I didn’t consider this could actually be an activity for the entire family. Chitra and I discussed on how it would not be feasible for us to leave Maanas at home right now and given that constraint, we had to pick some other home based activity. So we picked up Gardening – with one big problem. Both of us had no clue about it. Chitra and I picked up some books from the Library and started working on it, but then came the surprise. Dad picked it up as well and with Maanas loving the outdoors as only he can, it has more or less become our household activity now. Still I would say we need to pick this up further, as both Chitra and I have to plant our first seed. Most of the hard work has been done by Dad with us being the mute spectator. Come on Chits – let's do it this weekend!
5. Build a wish list for entire family
First of all some background on this one… I am planning to build a Wish list for the immediate family. This can be an activity or a physical object that they had desired with some constraints such as – time, money, health… Also, I am looking at some the desired functional things as a part of this wish-list and not the aspirational one really.
Functional: for e.g. Having an iPad, Vacuum, anything sold on a store or even outside for example a puppy!; OR a vacation, visiting a theme park, a cricket game, meeting Amitabh Bacchan!, activities like riding a bike, learning a language, an instrument, bungee jumping!
Aspirational (not part of the list): for e.g. my kids do great in their lives; becoming a good father, mother, son or daughter; while meeting Amitabh is still under the realms of being functional, being on KBC for me is aspirational, winning a lottery of 1 million, being the president or an astronaut also fall in that category!
Anyways it would have been great to have a list with direct responses, but I think most of my family is that direct. So I am seeking help from different members to fill for each other. Let's see where I get to closing this by next month. If nothing, then I would start with some creative primary research.
Moving on to the Personal goals now…
6. Creative writing (10 poems and 2 plays)
While I had many ideas, I didn’t pen down anything yet, not even a line. Clearly one of the goal I am totally behind on.
7. Creative reading (12 books)
I started with the Social Factor last week. While I am a little concerned on meeting my target of 12 books, at the same time I do not want to compromise on where I am spending those reading hours. Hence, as much as it is taking me longer to build the reading habit, it is also taking a little longer to find the right material. Another goal that is slightly behind for now.
8. Finish level 3 of Spanish
I must admit the next three goals were the most difficult ones for me. Hence, I decided to put on some extra focus on these.
As a matter of background, on my current project there are many people from Spain, Mexico, Columbia, and US with some Spanish/South American connections. The entire 6-memebr BCG team can pretty much converse in Spanish and many a times even clients meetings can happen in Spanish if I am not there. While I have no intention to use my skills to conduct professional meetings in Spanish, I just think this is a great opportunity for me to learn a new language. It would certainly open a whole new world for me that I would understand better. Finally, knowing 3 out of 4 most spoken languages in the world can be truly fulfilling.
So where do I stand now – I have finished 3 out of 4 chapters of the Level 1 already and say 2-3 phrases now with some team members. Still have a long way to go before I start to build some understanding of the conversations around, but it is looking good. I want to change the phrase " Estoy aprendiendo Español" to "Yo hablo Español" soon.
9. Come to a 180 Lbs constant weight this year (touch 175 on scale)
While this one and the next one can be related, the medium and the requirement can be very different. After touching 200LBS last year on the scale, I had two options – one was to compromise with status quo and other was to try harder. I am currently on 193.2LBS and am striving hard to get to 175 for one this year. All in all, currently I am on track. Coming few days would definitely provide more color to this tracking.
10. Running a Half Marathon
So how are 9 and 10 not related… I think the means for 9 are eating healthy and constant exercise, where as for running a half marathon, I have to train myself in a specific way. It not only requires exercising but requires it in a particular way and commitment of long hours. I had not been a natural runner all my life, but when I started in early January I realized the situation is actually far worse. I don’t have now either the stamina or the muscles to support long distance running. First day, I could hardly run for 5 mins constantly and had to give up in 20 mins. But I had determined not to give up, not to get injured and not to worry about the minutes, miles but to go to gym every day. I was able to go to 5KM finally by the start of third week. But all this time I had been running almost synthetically on a tread mill. The litmus test came this week when rubber met the dust. Running on Road was difficult but far more fun. Looking at the Hills around Pomona can certainly help you re-energize. So currently I am able to run 30 mins on a regular basis (3-4 days a week) and don’t feel that exhausted anymore. The body is still feeling some pain but I am beginning to relish this pain now. Still miles to go before I say I did it… but the journey is becoming easier day by day!
Given my experiences with Project management and being the flag bearer on the Smart PMO topic now, I have decided to put a plan with activities to be done in order to achieve my goals. I think some of you were looking for some creative slides to come out for tracking so I am obliging your curiosity as well.
As I step in to 2012 further, it would be great to hear your thoughts and your encouraging messages to help me. Of course, if you have a suggestion on a good book, a gardening or a running tip, or a great recipe for my next Saturday cooking, you are more than welcome to share that as well.