I lost touch with reality in the month of August while preparing to take the PMP exam, but it was worth the effort because I passed with flying colors!
Action Plan Progress:
DONE – Completed the Agile PMP training seminar
DONE – Read Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt
DONE – Completed the RMC PMP Exam Prep course
DONE – Read the PMP Handbook
DONE – Completed the PMP application
DONE – Passed the PMP exam
The Agile PMP
The Agile PMP course was a part of the Project Management Institute’s SeminarsWorld event. Karl Muenchow led us through 2-days of great content. His presentations have helped me to reconcile the gap between old-world-PMP and new-world-agile frameworks. They are not as far apart as some would have you believe, and this new perspective has helped me a lot at work.
This book was recommended to me by a colleague. It is supposed to do for project management what The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement did for production. I don’t think it is as good as The Goal. The sections about how padding estimates creates more problems than it solves was very well done, and it has helped to solidify my understanding of estimating. I would recommend this book as light reading for project managers.
The rest of my action plan was geared toward the PMP exam. Submitting the application was a stressful process, but most exam prep classes give you some tips and tools related to completing the application. I also attended a PMI workshop that walked me through the process. I probably could have figured it out on my own, but was glad for the extra support.
I do not think I could have passed the test without taking a prep class. RMC Learning Solutions came highly recommended and I took their 2-Day PMP Exam Prep Course. It is an intense course that comes complete with homework! They helped me to identify the gaps in my knowledge base and tailor a study plan for my needs. In the 2.5 weeks between the course and my exam date I studied for 37 hours and took 2 practice exams. And when I was done I saw the most beautiful email header I have ever seen…
And with that I have achieved my project management goals for the year! Now I am going to focus on other areas of personal development.
Please share any goals you have achieved this year in the comments below. We should all take time to celebrate the wins!
The section where Openshaw listed all the different types of greens she uses in her smoothies and what parts of the plant to use was excellent. This week I left the ribs of most of my leafy greens in and I’m excited to try my radicchio and dandelion greens smoothies. I wish there had been a similar breakdown for the fruits and to that end there was not nearly enough of the content that I wanted. Anecdotes and unsubstantiated claims abound. I also thought her recipes had too much going on. I would not recommend this book, but I’m glad I read it.
Tonic is a local kitchen and juice bar located in Rochester, MN. Clayton and I stopped in at the start of a road trip and they had a great selection of fresh juices and smoothies. I went with the Coastal Sunshine: orange, lemon, lime, and carrot. It was good, if a little heavy on the carrots.
For dinner I ordered the Market Vegetable Wrap and Clayton ordered the Midwest Mac. I ate more of Clayton’s meal than my own even though I was pleasantly surprised by the kale chips.
Our smoothie consumption stayed steady after I stopped tracking this habit daily. Of all the habits I have featured on this blog, this one has been the most successful. I feel comfortable moving forward without an additional check in!
Please stay tuned for a new habit as I continue my journey of personal development.
Incentive: I have NOT earned my News in Slow subscription yet.
Lessons Learned: I am still learning that summer is a rough time for personal development. I am proud of the progress I have made, and love the Duolingo app on my phone. But I do know that I could have done much better. Rather than focusing on my lack of progress I am going to redouble my efforts and continue improving my Spanish language skills.
One Month Goals: Complete the rest of my existing action plan!
Any words of encouragement are certainly welcome in the comments I as I work to achieve my goals!
This Oscar nominated film is not my cup of tea. I made it to the pool scene where the two friends are masturbating together and gave up. The dialog was hard for me to follow even with English subtitles. They spoke very quickly, and there was a lot of voice over narration. I was only catching flashes of dialogue. I decided to go a different route in my second attempt.
Since I had a hard time with a “real” Spanish film Clayton suggested that I watch Dora the Explorer instead. He thinks he’s very clever, but he did inspired me to watch an animated film dubbed in Spanish. Dubbed live-action movies are distracting because of the disparity between the voice and facial movements, but cartoons just approximate mouth movements. Diction is also much better with voice actors. Besides a kid’s movie is on par with my proficiency level.
When we were on our cruise the television in our room was set with Spanish subtitles. I read loud the Spanish translations of Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Interstellar, and Ricki and the Flash. Comic book movies are well suited to foreign language development. You get the benefit of new vocabulary words, idioms, and simple sentence structure with very few dramatic monologues.
Through trial and error I have found 2 new ways to help build my Spanish skills. There is a great selection of cartoons on Netflix that have been dubbed in Spanish, and if I watch a movie I’ve already seen I will add Spanish subtitles. When I am more fluent I would like to try watching a foreign film for native speakers again.
Please share your favorite Spanish movie in the comments so I can start a to-watch list.
Lessons Learned: With back to back vacations I have not made much progress on my action plan. Since I was travelling internationally I also didn’t have ready access to my Duolingo app so I had to improvise. I’ve also slipped on my weekly check ins. At this point it is fair to say this has been my worst showing with a habit to date.
That is in direct contention with the fact that I am really enjoying this habit. The Duolingo app is well built and taps into my competitive streak. It also helps that I have a good support group of people who are familiar with the language. While we were cruising my friend Ed would randomly quiz me on my Spanish vocabulary, and everyone was very understanding of my playing on my phone while we were at port.
I am learning perseverance with this habit. Things aren’t always going to go exactly as I planned, but it’s okay to adjust course while trying to stick to a commitment you made to yourself.
Even though I don’t have a 3 hour commute anymore, I still try to make time for good podcasts. There are some great language podcasts out there so I sampled the ones with the best reviews. The podcasts below are listed in order of preference.
In each episode Rob, an English man, and Liz, a Colombian woman, have a short conversation. They translate the conversation and give you an opportunity to speak along with them. Each lesson is approximately 10 minutes. If you sign up on their website you can see a full transcript of the conversation.
I found it helpful that they don’t just focus on the exact translations, but also discuss the intention of the phrase. Also at the end they have a bit of fun giving you options for different phases or words you can use in the same scenario.
I could only listen to the beginning of the episodes without a subscription, but I like the samples. So much so that I am going to change my incentive for completing this habit. Once I hit my 66 days, I am going to sign up for the bronze subscription!
Right now I could only follow bits and pieces of the episode, but I think once I have a better foundation this site will really help improve my Spanish skills. If you’re further along than I am I would definitely check this podcast out.
I was not impressed with their website. You have to sign up immediately and there is a hard sell right up front. Once I finally got to listen to the first lesson I found Fernando and JP engaging. Their use of practical scenarios like starting you off in a grocery store is a fantastic idea.
They also do a great job of breaking down the sample conversation and analyzing the vocabulary and grammar. The sessions are very short at 5-10 minutes.
I am going to stick with Spanish Obsessed for the time being, until I reach my goal and purchase a subscription to News in Slow. I liked SpanishPod101 but I’m not going to invest a lot of time in it right now.
Do you listen to any great language podcasts? Please share your favorites in the comments below.
The were 30 sessions in this pack and it was broken into 3 parts. In the first part we focused visualizing a calm blue sky, in the second part we visualized a bright light filling us, and in the third part we focused on letting our mind be free. I liked the last section because I experienced such a feeling of weightlessness and calm when he would say “let your mind be free and do whatever it wants.” It was more about creating a sense of calm and contentedness rather than trying to counter negative self-talk with positive self-talk. A neutral outlook is really what you are going for. Clayton seems that way naturally and I am trying to emulate him.
Another 30 sessions broken down into 3 parts. The exercises help you to practice focused flow by honing in on different parts of your body throughout the sit. You are supposed to carry the practice throughout the day and it is easy to pick up at random intervals.
Generosity will be my next pack. That will round out the series options, with Relationships since I have done one from Health and Performance.
This book is broken down into 3 parts. Breathe! You Are Alive focuses on mindfulness and awareness in the small acts of life. The idea of smiling through out the day hit home with me, and I have made an effort to smile more to myself.
Transformation and Healing is about the benefits of mindfulness in healing difficult states. And Peace is Every Step is about the connection between inner peace and peace on earth. This book is short and sweet and full of wisdom. I would highly recommend it to anyone.
After our move I discovered there are no Tai Chi classes in our small town. Rather than making a special trip up to the cities just to meet this goal, I decided to find something else that would allow me to practice Tai Chi on a regular basis. BodyWisdom is available thru Xbox Fitness and it tracks your movements with the Kinnect. I think this is a great alternative to an actual class, and as I learn the poses I plan to practice in a more serene area.
As I continue to practice meditation I find setting goals toward it is not in the spirit of the habit. I want to lessen my stress levels and enjoy a more peaceful state, not feel pressure to get it done. That is why I will not be setting an future action items. I plan to just enjoy the serenity that comes with a sit.
I’ll leave you with a one time use code for a free month of access to Headspace for the first person to enter it!
I chose Duolingo for my Spanish habit because I used a beta version for German a few years ago. I really liked the user interface, and since then they’ve come out with a great phone app. Below are some other online learning tools that seemed worth exploring, listed in order of preference.
Anki – More than just a language tool, Anki can help you remember anything you need to study. It is an open source tool with a very simple interface, but that makes it easy to use. I’ve created a deck for Spanish vocabulary and my project management exam.
Busuu – Similar to Duolingo. Select a language and determine your skill level. Lesson 1 starts with greeting people. I like the quick tips that are interspersed in the lessons like what time of day to use buenos dias. There are also images with the words which is very helpful. A key difference is that with Duolingo there are pronunciation exercises where you speak the words and phrases, but Busuu is all written exercises.
Memrise – Again, similar to Duolingo and Busuu, but my least favorite of the bunch. Their user interface is not well done, and you only focus on a few words at a time. I prefer Duolingo’s approach of using phases to reinforce the vocabulary.
I am excited to start building my Anki decks, but will pass on the Busuu and Memrise in favor of Duolingo. Duolingo is free, no adds, and no upselling. Plus it’s working for me so far!
Have you tried any other online language learning tools? Please share your experience in the comments below.
Attend a meet up or find people willing to converse with me in Spanish
Incentive: A weekend trip to a fun locale where we can immerse ourselves in a Spanish-speaking community.
Lofty Goal: Attain enlightenment!
I took 4 years of Spanish in high school and some of my family members have a passing fluency. I figured my background with Spanish would make it an easier habit to dive into. I never gave learning a second language a shot in school, but I’m ready to take it more seriously this time around.
Ultimately I would like to become fluent enough in Spanish to add it to my resume. I’ve always wanted to travel more for work, and being able to speak another language will open new doors for me.
Follow me on Duolingo, and kick start your own habit!
King shares an unedited fictional piece, and then a mark up of the same work. This is exactly what I have been looking for in these writing books. King’s work as a teacher gives weight to the lessons in this book.
It’s a popular book for good reason, and I recommend it to anyone looking to improve their writing.
6 Month Goals:
Improve my blogging stats
Blog about 4 new habits (one in each category)
Read a book to help improve my writing
Watch a documentary on writing/writers
Accomplishments abound with this blog. My closet is clean, I drink smoothies, eat veggies, lost 10 pounds, and manage projects better than ever. The best part is I’m still doing all of my favorite things like watching movies, reading books, and trying new things; just in a more focused manner. Here’s to leveraging your strengths!