Project Management Monday Check In

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.

Book Breakdown

    • Title: Critical Chain
    • Author: Eliyahu Goldratt
    • Genre: Non-fiction, Business
    • Grade: C

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.

PMP Exam

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…

Congrats PMP

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!

via GIPHY
via GIPHY

Smoothie Sunday Check In

It’s been 6 months since I finished the first 66 days of my green smoothie habit. These breakfast drinks are fully integrated in our morning routine.

6 Month Goals:

  • Read 1 new book on food science
  • Try 1 new vegetarian restaurant

Book Breakdown:

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.

Vegetarian Restaurant:Tonic

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.

Spanish Saturday – The End

DuolingoOwlAccording to Doulingo I am now 35% fluent in Spanish! I have also earned enough Lingots to give my owl some sweet new digs! The rest of my action plan has not fared so well…

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – 70/66 days of practicing Spanish
  • 0/1 Pimsleur Spanish audio-book completed
  • DONE – 2/2 Spanish movies watched
  • 6/10 Spanish children’s books read
  • DONE – 3/1 Spanish podcasts reviewed
  • 0/1 Spanish meet ups attended

Grade: F

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!

Spanish Saturday – The Middle

I think this is the first time I have dreaded an midpoint review. Ah well, time to face the music.

Action Plan Progress:

  • 42/66 days of practicing Spanish
  • 0/1 Pimsleur Spanish audio-book completed
  • 0/2 Spanish movies watched
  • 1/10 Spanish children’s books read
  • DONE – 3/1 Spanish podcasts reviewed
  • 0/1 Spanish meet ups attended

Grade: C

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.

Meditation Monday Check In

It’s been a little over 6 months since I finished tracking my meditation habit. Now is a great time to take a step back and reflect on the progress I have made.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – Complete 2 Headspace theme packs
  • DONE – Read 1 new book on meditation
  • Aborted – Attend a Tai Chi class
  • BONUS – Practice Tai Chi on the Xbox One

Headspace:

Self-Esteem

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.

Focus

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.

Book Breakdown:

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.

Tai Chi:

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!

Gift Code: REW15-469237

Writing Wednesday Check In

I am happy to report that I have kept up with my writing habit over the last 6 months. As always I’ll start with my stats.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – Improved my blogging stats
  • DONE – 4/4 habits developed and blogged
  • DONE – 1/1 book on writing read

Blogging Stats:

  • 62 posts (↑ from 22 posts)
  • 34 followers (↑ from 16)
  • 547 visitors (↑ from 126)
  • 818 views (↑ from 249)
  • 179 likes (↑ from 72)
  • 39 comments (↑ from 12)

Completed Habits:

  1. Smoothie Sunday – Drink a green smoothie everyday
  2. Tidy Travels – Implement the KonMari method
  3. Food Friday – Eat an 8 Weeks to Wellness approved meal everyday
  4. Project Management Monday – Read the Project Management Body of Knowledge

Book Breakdown:

“Write what you like.”

The On Writing section is the heart of the book and I came away with a lot of great tips:

  • Master the fundamentals: vocabulary, grammar, and the elements of style
  • Read and write a lot
  • 1st drafts shouldn’t take more than a season (3 months)
  • Give your writing life by adding your knowledge of life (especially work)
  • Situation comes first then plot and characters
  • Begin with the story and progress to the theme
  • 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%
  • Writers Market

“Door Shut, Door Open”

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!

Keep an eye out for my next habit!

Project Management Monday – The End

I finished reading the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)! Now to review my action plan progress.

Action Plan Progress:

  • DONE – Read the PMBOK
  • DONE – Found a study buddy at work
  • DONE – Watched 6/6 PMI webinars
  • DONE – Attended 2/1 PMI-Minnesota Chapter meetings
  • DONE – Posted weekly progress updates on improving my PM skills

Grade: A

Incentive: This week I am attending the Agile PMP seminar!

Lessons Learned: I had tried to read the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK) 2 years ago with poor results, and I really think this blog helped me to cross the finish line on the PMBOK. Breaking this into a daily reading habit helped me to hone in on each section. I absorbed a lot of information and dove into work breakdown structures, earned value calculations, and risk management.

My favorite part of the action plan was trying to form a study group. I met with all the PMs in my office and solicited a lot of feedback on the best way to approach the certification. I found another person interested in going through the certification process with me, and she has been a tremendous help. We’ve both signed up for an exam prep course and are hoping to sit for the exam at the end of the summer.

6 Month Goals:

  • Complete the Agile PMP training seminar
  • Complete the RMC PMP Exam Prep course
  • Read the PMP Handbook
  • Complete the PMP application
  • Take the PMP exam
  • Read Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt

This habit has kick started my career development this year. Getting through the PMBOK has given me the confidence to tackle all sorts of goals over the summer.

Any suggestions for a new habit? I’ve got a couple ideas brewing, but would love to get some feedback in the comments!

Food Friday – The End

I’ve accomplished another habit! Now to take a step back and reflect on the last 2 months.

Action Plan Progress:8WWCover

  • DONE – 3/2 recipes from SparksRecipes attempted
  • DONE – 3/2 recipes from the 8WW workbook attempted
  • BONUS – 3 recipes from Mayo Clinic attempted
  • DONE – Photo journal on Instagram
  • DONE – Down 10.2 pounds!
  • DONE – 10/10 weekly progress updates about developing better eating habits posted

Grade: A+

Incentive: We did it! Not only did we eat an 8 Weeks to Wellness approved meal every day for 66 days, but both Clayton and I lost over 10 pounds! This is a cause for celebration. Good thing Clayton already bought our tickets to the Cubs home opener in April!

Lessons Learned: This change wasn’t nearly as hard as taking on a whole new diet. Transitioning from day 66 of tracking to day 1 of not tracking was a non-event. I still had a side salad and chicken noodle soup for lunch. I didn’t feel the need to rebel against the diet or overly celebrate. Clayton had a great call out. “I don’t have to eat everything I want all the time to feel satisfied.” Words to live by, indeed.

Another benefit to planning at least one meal a day is that I am better able to cope with my hectic work schedule. Over the last few months I have been able to eat a good lunch more often than not.

Having a secondary goal of weight loss definitely helped keep me motivated. Watching the weight steadily come off gave me renewed vigor at the start of each week. And I am excited to keep it up.

6 Month Goals:

  • Try 2 new Mayo Clinic recipes
  • Continue to use 8WW as a guide for portion control and food selection

Please be on the look out for my next healthy habit!

Project Management Monday – The Middle

I’ve finally reached the half way point of this habit, and I’m 59% thru the book! Here are the rest of the stats.

Action Plan Progress:

  • 352/589 pages read in the PMBOK
  • Start a study group at work with others interested in getting their PMP
  • 2/6 PMI webinars watched
  • DONE – Attended a PMI-Minnesota Chapter meeting
  • 5/10 weekly progress updates posted about improving my PM skills

Grade: A

Lessons Learned: 8 pages a day is very doable. It makes it easy to stay on track, and I think I am absorbing more of the material as well. There are some days that I want to push myself to read more, but if I were to read ahead it would make it easier to take advantage of it on the other side and let the pages slide when I don’t feel like reading. Consistency is key!

Finishing the PMBOK is just the start of my career development plan this year, and I am excited to finish this milestone.

What career milestones do you want to hit this year? Please share your goals in the comments!

Food Friday – The Middle

Today is day 34 of our 66 day challenge to eat at least one 8WW approved meal per day. We’ll start with the stats!

Action Plan Progress:

  • 0/2 recipes from SparksRecipes attempted
  • DONE – 3/2 recipes from the 8WW workbook attempted
  • BONUS – 3 recipes from Mayo Clinic attempted
  • Keep a photo journal on Instagram
  • Down 5.6 pounds in 34 days
  • 5/10 weekly progress updates about developing better eating habits posted

Grade: A

Lessons Learned: I have to be content with slow and steady weight loss, as we are trying to build a habit not crash diet. To that end, I am pleased with the progress Clayton and I have made. He has also lost 5 pounds. We’re half way to our goal of losing 10 pounds at the half way point! We even maintained our weight on a trip to California, which surprised me.

Incremental changes are working! Building on my 10,000 steps a day and smoothie habits are contributing to the success of this change in one meal a day. Reflecting on the impact of these small changes keeps me motivated in cultivating better habits.

Please share any advice or inspiration for the second half of this habit in the comments!