Sunday, December 25, 2016

2016 Reflection

2016 was a tumultuous year filled with change that was mostly positive. Emotionally, it was one of the most difficult years I have had so far. While my new job is fantastic, the initial adjustment was not easy. I have not consistently been the sister / daughter / wife / friend that those around me needed me to be. But praise God, who can make things new. I trust that I can trust Him to bring renewal to 2017.

Here is a review the results of the goals I set at the beginning of the year, as well as some additional unplanned things that were accomplished.

2016 Goals:

Book:
1.) Finish manuscript: I set some rather ambitious goals this year, and I while I fell just short of meeting the second one, I'm extremely pleased with the overall progress this year which was more than any prior. My book is now about 75% done.

   a.) Edit #2 : Completed, primarily during the three months' of unemployment / job-searching.

   b.) Edit #3: By the end of this year, > 50% of this edit will be complete. Very close.

2.) Submit query letter and sample chapters of book to 10 literary agents. This goal became non-applicable after I decided to self-publish. In the future, I will adjust goals during the year if/when they change.
    a.) Finish query letter:  Completed.

    b.) Identify 10 agents:  Identified 1/10. Readjusted this goal mid-year (see below).

    c.) Mail packet (query letter + 3 sample chapters) to 10 agents:  1/10 completed. I have decided to go the self-publishing route for several reasons. First, gives me more control over the content. Second, the actual publishing is something I can make happen, as opposed to waiting and hoping for an agent to take notice. Third, I think that while there is a lot of benefit in having a publishing house take care of the distribution, Amazon offers many advantages as well

Faith:
1.) Deepen faith and develop relationship with God. I struggled with this, which took its toll on my emotional health.

    a.) Daily devotionals & journaling. For a few months, I was consistent with reading and reflecting on the verse of the day. This has a good impact. However, I didn't start until mid-year and didn't sustain the past couple of months. As far as journaling, I kept a mini journal in my daily planner as well as infrequent blogging.

    b.) Daily prayer. I definitely prayed but it wasn't daily.

    c.) Church and fellowship with other believers (small group?). We did find a great church and got connected with some folks through a small group we participated in. It's since ended, so we'll need to find a way to continue getting plugged in.

Health:
1.) Be healthy in mind:
    a.) Read 30 books. Completed.They were:
  1. 2 Second Lean by Paul Akers.
  2. The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker
  3. The Hitchhiker's Guide to Lean by Jamie Flinchbaugh
  4. Lean Health by Paul Akers
  5. Learning to See by Mike Rother and John Shook
  6. The Lean Six Sigma Pocket Toolbook by Michael L. George and John Maxey
  7. The Lean Manufacturing Pocket Handbook by Kenneth Dailey
  8. Six Sigma for Dummies by Craig Gygi and Bruce Williams
  9. Lean for Dummies by Natalie Sayer
  10. Running Great Meetings & Workshops for Dummies
  11. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
  12. What Color is Your Parachute
  13. Wander Woman
  14. Be Your Own Mentor by Sheila Wellington
  15. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  16. Playing to Win by A.J. Lafley
  17. When Helping Hurts (most of it)
  18. A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
  19. Shards by Allison Moore
  20. A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer
  21. Bottled by Dana Bowman
  22. Leggy Blonde by Aviva Dresher
  23. Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky
  24. Smashed by Koren Zailckas
  25. A Brother's Journey by Richard Pelzer
  26. Blackout: Remembering What I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
  27. Promise Land: My Journey Through America's Self-Help Culture
  28. Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burrough
  29. Zen Habits by Leo Babauta
  30. Lean Health by Paul Akers
    b.) Deepen knowledge of continuous improvement, six sigma, and management. Completed, and I'm very satisfied with the results. I accomplished this through listening to over 100 podcasts and reading over a dozen books and really reflecting on the information learned. Then, I put it into practice by leading kaizen events (including training) at work as well as coaching others. I have learned so much and am looking forward to learning more next year.

2.) Be healthy in body
    a.) Exercise 4-5 times per week, including strength training. Done. Plenty of runs, long walks, and in the past couple of months I have started strength training again which has been great.

    b.) Drink 8 glasses of water a day. Result: I'm doing better with this by bringing bottled water to work but still need to drink more.

Other health accomplishments:

    a.) Began taking a multivitamin, fish oil, magnesium, vitamin D, and iron supplements most days

    b.) Did "Whole30" elimination diet for 24 days.

Relationships:
1.) Maintain key relationships
     a.) 'Conversation' dates with my husband at least 1x per month. One of the great things about our new house is the amazing deck we have out back. We have spent many an evening out there just chatting. We also made a point to go out to dinner several times with just the two of us.

     b.) See my sister at least 6 times, including several days during the summer if possible. Result: Saw her 4 times. There was a big gap between March and August when I was getting started with my new job and moving. We both agreed that was too long to go without seeing each other. I did have her over for several days in August which was wonderful. We hung out around the house, painted, went to Asheville, hiked, and just had a great time together.

     c.) See my brother at least 2 times. Accomplished - once for Labor Day, and once I was able to meet him for breakfast when I was visiting a town a couple of hours from him. Especially enjoyed that one-on-one time with him. He is very special to me.

     d.) See my mom and dad at least 4 times. Let's see - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 times. Now that we live only an hour and a half away, we have enjoyed seeing them much more often.

     e.) Girl's weekend in Asheville, NC for my birthday. Done. It was a nice time, and also a celebration of my recent acceptance of a new job. One of the nicest gifts I got was a bunch of cards and letters from friends and family.

     f.) Hikes with Alex and Kelly before leaving KY. Unfortunately, this did not happen, in part due to the timing (still winter when I left).

     g.) See my father and stepmother several times. Done - I went to their house three times, and they came and visited us in our new house once. Definitely got closer to them this year and I'm glad to have them in my life.

Other relationship accomplishments: 
     a.) One of the biggest developments in 2016 was that we responded to the calling to pursue becoming foster parents. We have now completed the training, and are finishing the last steps of certification. God-willing, we will be certified in the spring of next year. I'm very excited to see what God has in store for us and hopeful we can give some kids a safe and loving home.

     b.) I developed a great relationship with my new boss. She is incredible, and probably the best manager I have ever had. I have learned an incredible amount from her and trust her completely. She has helped me with developing confidence and people and project management skills. She is definitely someone I look up to and seek to emulate.

     c.) I got to see my older sisters and their husband and kids more often this year, in part due to moving much closer. Events included a visit to the aquarium, a housewarming party at my house, a group hike, lunch for my Mom's birthday, Thanksgiving, a pre-Christmas dinner, and New Year's Eve. That has been really great.

     d.) I went to a Notre Dame vs. Virginia Tech football game with my dad (who went to ND) and my sister and brother-in-law (who both went to VT like myself). It was cold, but a memorable experience, and I especially enjoyed spending time with my five year old niece.

     e.) With the encouragement of my coworkers, for Christmas Shane and I got tickets to the AR vs Virginia Tech bowl game in Charlotte. We had a fun time - what a game. I'm glad we did that.


Career:
1.) Establish new career
     a.) Identify target position. Done. I decided that I wanted to focus on continuous improvement positions, although I did interview for a couple of quality jobs.

     b.) Identify target industries and companies. I focused it primarily by region in North Carolina more than industry. I applied for positions in a variety of industries, from automotive to aerospace to packaging to electronics. The field of continuous improvement is definitely not industry-specific, so that was not as important. However, I did rule out working in one particular hazardous work environment that I interviewed at.

     c.) Apply and interview for openings matching a) and b). I had over half a dozen phone interviews and five on-site interviews.

     d.) Receive and accept appropriate offer. I received about four offers, most within a couple of weeks of each other. Fortunately, it was an easy decision in terms of the culture fit, salary, job role, and location.

     e.) Begin job and excel at it. I have completed three projects and two kaizen events, all with good results and feedback. My boss says that word has been spreading of my performance, and I feel like I am making a positive impact. I have learned so much about continuous improvement and our business in general.

     f.) Find opportunities to mentor young women in STEM careers. I've done some of this already, and it's been very rewarding. I've broadened this to mentoring in general, and my new role at work has me responsible for coaching some of our green belts. I have thoroughly enjoyed this.

Other career accomplishments:
     a.) I had a big gap in knowledge to overcome with my new job, and I closed it quickly. I was even able to provide in-depth training to others on some of the subjects. I'm very pleased with all that I have learned.

     b.) My yearly bonus was considerable, so that was an unexpected benefit.

     c.) I completed Black Belt training with my new company.

     d.) I became an expert at Sharepoint site development in order to meet the needs of one of my projects. It was one of the most rewarding accomplishments of my career to develop and deploy a completely electronic workflow for a department that had previously been doing everything manually. They were so grateful.

     e.) I had the opportunity to share some of my experiences with continuous improvement as a guest on a podcast. I was nervous about how it would go, but the feedback has been very positive and I enjoyed the experience.

     f.) I definitely developed my presentation skills out of necessity. I have now delivered presentation and training to a group of 20+ people. It was nerve-wracking at first, but it became much easier with preparation and practice.

Relocation:
1.) Establish life in new area
    a.) Prepare house to sell. Repaired ceiling, painted, cleaned, and did minor repairs around the house, and staged it to sell with the help of our realtor.

    b.) Sell house. We successfully sold the house for the asking price within two weeks of listing it, thanks in part to the trusted friend we used as our agent.

    c.) Buy new house. We found a real gem - a 1700 square foot, four bedroom house with stunning landscaping and a beautiful deck. One-story living, hardwood floors, granite counters, a huge bedroom/office over the garage - it has it all. The only drawbacks are the steep driveway and the small kitchen, but those are relatively minor. We absolutely love our new place.

    d.) Find new church. We found a non-denominational church with great worship and good teaching and have made a few connections already. It was only the second church we tried in the area.

    e.) Find new doctor and dentist. Done.

    f.) Find new coffee shops! We have explored most of the coffee shops in the area. None of them stand out as much as the one we loved in Lexington, but they are good.

    g.) Find new running locations. One of the best things about our neighborhood is that it is great for walking and running, including a couple of short paths through the woods. It is great to be able to go for a nice run without having to drive anywhere. There are a couple of running trails on the way home from work that I have enjoyed as well.

2016 was definitely one of the hardest years I have experienced. Some of it was externally driven, some of it internal. I am so grateful to God for not letting me go, and I am full of hope for 2017.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Weekly Goals #24: Nearing the End of 2016

Work:
1. Support the launch of the portal application we've been developing.
2. Deliver final gate review for project and close it out.
3. Deliver final results and recommendations for another project.
4. Remember to look for ways to show Christ through my words and actions.

Personal:
1. Be interviewed for podcast and effectively communicate the importance of employee engagement.
2. Visit my sister for and help celebrate her birthday, hopefully including a hike.
5. Read and reflect on the daily verse multiple times throughout each day.
6. Continue logging my food intake.
7. Lift weights 1x and run 1x (in addition to the run I did today).
8. Edit chapters 10-20 of my book (at least on paper).

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekly Goals #23

Weekly Goals:

Not as many this week, primarily because I want to focus on the first week of Whole30.
  • Complete 1st week of Whole30! I think the biggest challenge for me will be not having stevia in my coffee. Actually, it will be not weighing/measuring myself for a whole month. I really want to show myself I can do this and experience the benefits.
  • Enjoy seeing family at a park Sunday afternoon - especially my nieces and nephews.
  • Complete 1st home visit for foster care.
  • Make substantial more progress on my project at work
  • Bring another key stakeholder on board via a conference call Tuesday morning
  • Meet with 3 individuals and really gain a better understanding of their perspectives as it relates to the project.
  • Start figuring out a way to help a manager with a problem he approached me with. It is a matter of cutting down on unnecessary/duplicate paperwork.
  • Attend small group on Friday and church on Sunday
  • Strength training session: Specifically, getting a membership to Planet Fitness and going on Saturday. There, how is that for a specific plan?
  • Run 3 times. Hopefully including one trail run.
  • Seek ways to encourage my husband.

Weekly Goals #22

Weekly Goals:

Physical:
  • Determine next course of action based on results of blood work. Result: Vitamin D has improved slightly but still low. I've increased my daily IU's from 2000 to 3000. TSH was normal, but T3 was on the low end (85 - "normal" scale is 75-180). Even though the doctor doesn't think this is cause for concern, I'm going to follow up with an endocrinologist in October.
  • Go for 3 runs, including at least one trail run. Result: Done - I think. I only remember Tuesday, Thursday, but I think I ran last Sunday. Not positive. Anyway, the Thursday run was particularly awesome - I ran about 4 miles along a new trail. I felt so refreshed and wanted to keep going but it was getting late. It was a great time of reflection and relaxation.
  • Strength training one time. Just one! I can do it. Result: Not done. Other than a few planks this week. I plan to get a gym membership next week to help with this.
  • Keep drinking lots of water. Result: Done, and after Tuesday I even cut out soda completely. Much less bloated. I also cut out all artificial sweeteners except stevia. I am drinking so much more water than I used to.

Mental/spiritual:
  • Continue reflecting on each daily verse. Result: Done, and I found myself looking at the verse again throughout the day. I'm really encouraged by this.
  • Attend church. Undecided about small group. Result: Done, and we did go to the small group activity of visiting a nursing home on Friday evening. I am glad we did. I spoke with a woman who had just lost her husband 4 months ago after being married for 60 years. She spoke of the hope she had, knowing that she would see him again. It was inspiring to me, and I think it meant a lot to many of the residents to have someone visit and talk with them.
  • Finish reading "Scary Close" by Donald Miller. Result: Not done. I spent probably more time than I should have reading on my phone instead when I had the opportunity.

Work:
  • Do a good job facilitating a cross-divisional meeting on Thursday. The goals are to get general consensus about the process the team has chosen and the next steps. Result: Very good. Although there wasn't much feedback on the call, afterwards, our executive vice president said that we did a "great job". We also had similar feedback from one of the plant managers on the call. The approach we are taking is very data-driven and different from what many of these individuals are used to. But I feel we have the support of our management to move forward.
  • Gain buy-in from a key stakeholder during another meeting. This individual is a little challenging but it will help to have his support. Result: Very good - he was very supportive, and even had some helpful feedback that we used right away. Having his support will make this process easier.
  • Move forward with analyzing and improving the external and internal bottlenecks of my other main project. Result: Didn't do as much as I wanted to, both due to other commitments and my own lack of motivation, frankly. But this week, I have activities planned that should help move this along.
  • Hold last cadence review of the month. Result: Done. I am feeling much more comfortable with these.
  • Facilitate a project pipeline brainstorming call with our assembly teams. Result: Done, although I was more nervous than I usual am during these calls.
  • Start preparing for a customer visit in October. Result: Done, and got to work with the account manager for the first time. She was very helpful, and it was good to begin that relationship.
  • Start preparing project work instructions due by the end of the month. Result: Not done. The above activity took more time than I thought it would.
  • Continue to look for ways that I can serve, putting priority on this above my own agenda. Result: I think I did this for about 3 individuals at work this week. 1 of them needed coaching on his project, so I spent about an hour doing that. The other was feeling discouraged, so I reached out to listen and offer my support. The other one just needed some reassurance a couple of times, and help with a presentation another. I had little hesitation in dropping what I was doing to reach out and help where I could, and it was absolutely the right choice. People first.
  • Finally, do one thing every day that challenges me outside of my comfort zone! Result: Didn't do this every day, but I did reach out to one of our VP's and ended up having a good conversation with him. I also asked one of my coworkers for help with something, and talked with two of my coworkers more than I normally would have. Finally, I introduced myself in person to a lady who had been helping me out via email and thanked her. 
Other:
  • Finish editing one more chapter of my book. Result: Not done, unless I do it later today which I probably won't. :-(
  • Get contacts at Costco - almost out. Result: Done.
  • Hopefully watch "Let Hope Rise" movie - can't wait to see this. Result: Not done, because my husband wasn't feeling up to it. Maybe soon though.
  • Get a birthday gift for my mom. Result: not yet, going to have to think about this one.

Other good things that happened:
  • Cutting out diet soda and artificial sweeteners.
  • Cutting down on caffeine. The most I had on any given day was 3 servings, and most days were 2.
  • Just being more mindful and appreciative of life. I felt less panicky overall.
  • Walked or ran all days but one.
  • Had a nice time out shopping yesterday.
  • Scheduled our first home visit - necessary for becoming foster parents.
  • Adapted to a surprise request to give an immediate plant tour to some visitors. It ended up going fine, and I enjoyed talking with them and learning a few things.
  • I encouraged my husband one evening when he was feeling particularly down. I think it helped - by the end he was laughing and seemed more relaxed.
  • Finally put down mulch on the hill in my backyard. I had been putting this off for a while.
  • Two people at work confided in me about some challenges they had been having. Folks are reaching out to me more with problems, which is a good sign.
  • My manager told me she had to shield me from a request to take over one of the continuous improvement lead roles in the plant. She said word of my performance has been getting around. That was incredibly encouraging to me.
  • Finally, I decided to start Whole30 this week. I'm really looking forward to both the process and the results. Although, I am planning on a celebratory big bowl of popcorn at the end!

    Sunday, September 11, 2016

    Weekly Goals #21: Joyful Living

    My goals for next week:

    Mental / spiritual health:
    ·        Reflect on the daily Bible verse each day (reference it several times).
    ·        Actively look for opportunities to bless others.
    ·        Practice more mindfulness.
    ·        Attend first small group meeting.
    ·        More reading! I have two memoirs and a book on faith lined up.

    Physical health:
    ·        Continue to limit/eliminate my consumption of white carbs and sugar. I have really benefitted from the reduced cravings and more regulated energy.
    ·        Eat more of a variety of vegetables. Gotta get those vitamins and minerals!
    ·        Have sardines at least once. What a nutritional powerhouse.
    ·        Start taking magnesium supplements.
    ·        Try to avoid ibuprofen and Tylenol when possible.
    ·        Make an appointment with an endocrinologist.
    ·        Go on 2-3 runs.
    ·        Go for a bike ride.
    ·        Strength training at least twice.
    ·        Go ahead and get a membership at Planet Fitness. It’s not that much per month, and it would really encourage me to ramp up the strength training.

    Work:
    ·        Make more progress on pre-press project.
    ·        Run 2 cadence review calls.
    ·        Effectively communicate to our executive vice president the value of one of my coworker’s work. He is trying very hard to do the right thing for our company, and he needs support









    Sunday, June 26, 2016

    Weekly Goals #20: Try and See

    1.) Same breakfast (cereal and coffee) and lunch (salad with protein) every day. This is almost a habit after a few weeks of doing this.
    Result: Done, although I was really craving sugar and had too much cereal a couple of days. I did decrease simple carbs at lunch time, though, pretty much just sticking to a salad with protein. I usually had a couple of packets of saltine crackers (i.e. 4 crackers total) and a small bit of candy in the early afternoon, but not as many crackers as before and I used to get a pretzel roll with lunch, too, which I did not at all. I definitely made some progress.

    2.) Spending 5 minutes praying, reading the Bible, or doing a devotional in the morning.
    Result: Completely did not do this. I think that if I switch to doing it at work (since I get there early anyway) I might be more successful than trying to sit down when I'm getting ready to head out the door.

    3.) Bringing a big bottle of water to work every day.
    Result: Done. Definitely helped me stay hydrated. I brought carbonated water this week, though, and found it was harder to drink more of it, so I think I will go back to non-carbonated.

    4.) Getting some kind of exercise almost every evening - target walking at least 3 miles a day.
    Result: Done except one day where I only walked a little over two miles. My stomach was hurting me and I was feeling pretty weak, so it made sense to skip a day. Every other day, I went for a walk or hike.

    What I tried:
    1.) Reading in bed for at least half an hour every evening.
    Result: Done but...I've been reading Quora on my phone, not books like I intended. Maybe I can start with reading a book for at least fifteen minutes before switching to Quora.
    2.) Send a query letter to one literary agent (part of fulfilling my purpose...)
    Result: Not done but I did make myself look at Edit #3 of my book and even do a little editing. I'm going to call that progress.
    3.) Complete at least 1 blog post draft for my new website.
    Result: Not the website I originally intended, but I did eight journal-ty peposts, and I'm pretty satisfied with that.

    Sunday, June 19, 2016

    Kata and What I've Learned

    There's a concept I learned about this week called "kata". In the traditional sense, kata refers to the drills or routines that martial artists perform. They are building blocks, and as one progresses in a martial art discipline, they become longer and more complex as the learner's knowledge and skill increase.

    The concept of kata emphasizes practice over theory. It's important to come up with a hypothesis, but it must be proven or disproven with experiential evidence. Kata is applicable to any area with potential for improvement. It follows the basic principles of the scientific method and the Plan-Do-Check-Act problem-solving method.

    1.) Identify your goal (where you want to be).
    2.) Determine your current condition.
    3.) See the gap between your goal and your current state.
    4.) Form a hypothesis about how you can close that gap.
    5.) Experiment.
    6.) Measure the results and see if your hypothesis was correct.
    7.) Adjust as needed, and repeat steps 3-7 until the goal is achieved.

    In the spirit of Kata, I will continue activity that has proven to be effective, discontinue what is not, and experiment to learn new information about what works and what does not. It requires a spirit of humility and not jumping to conclusions without testing first.

    What I have found works for me through experience:

    Physical care:
    1.) Eating the same breakfast and lunch every day. Specifically, cereal and coffee for breakfast, and a big salad with lots of protein at lunch.
    2.) Spending money on a salad from a salad bar at lunch. I've experimented with a few different lunch sources and this one, while a little expensive, is working the best. Spending money on quality food is a good investment, though.
    3.) Bringing a big bottle of water to work. When I do this, it's gone by lunch and I refill it at least once more before the day is over. This tool consistently results in drinking enough water throughout the day, and as a result I have not had any headaches during the workdays when I did this.
    4.) Enriching time spent commuting, exercising, and doing chores by listening to radio programs and podcasts. I don't always make time to read, but it is easy to 'find' time to listen. I have learned so much from this practice.
    5.) Going to bed by 9 most nights. I have been waking up on my own before my alarm. An adjustment may be needed though - I have been waking up a little earlier than I'd like (and getting to work before I have the chance to listen to my 7:05 Living on the Edge radio program). I'm going to try to push it a little later and see what happens.
    6.) Getting and using a FitBit Flex. I have been moving more since getting it, especially with setting a daily goal of at least three miles.
    7.) Taking my medication at the same times every day.
    8.) A relatively low-carb diet. Although my breakfast and snacks are typically carbs, my main meal of the day - lunch - is very low-to-no carbs. This has helped me not crash or have stomach issues post-lunch.

    Around the house:
    1.) Doing 5S on my house on the weekends. This has resulted in the following:
        a.) A cleaner house, overall
        b.) Something to look forward to on weekends, actually
        c.) Shorter cleaning time - takes about 1.5 hours / week
        d.) Easier to identify problems and inventory what is needed at the grocery store
    2.) Going to the grocery store 1x on the weekend. By practicing this, it's easier to predict what we will need and therefore determine what I need to gset without going over or under what our actual needs are. We're much less likely to run out of something before the next grocery visit. I'm also less likely to forget anything, as I bring a list that has been populated throughout the week.

    Time Management:
    1.) Leaving at 11:40 for lunch to beat the noon rush.
    2.) Writing down my top three to-do items for the next day at the end of the work day. This is a great way to prioritize and it enables me to pick up where I left off the following day.
    3.) Keeping my daily planner with me and using it to capture everything. This is something I picked up at a former company that has stuck with me.
    4.) Keeping a running personal to-do list for all those 'back-burner' items.
    5.) Reviewing the past week's goals and setting the upcoming week's goals once a week. Typically I have been doing this Sunday afternoon. I think I need to review my goals at least once during the week though - sometimes I just plain forget some of them.

    Mental/spiritual/relational health:
    1.) Going to church on Sundays. It really helps give time for worship and reflection and sets the right tone for the upcoming week.
    2.) Doing things for others, even if they are small, lifts my spirits.
    3.) Investing in my relationship with my sister has paid back exponential dividends.
    4.) Making time to talk with my husband. This does a lot to both strengthen us as a couple and individually. We've been taking a lot of walks together lately as well, which has been particularly enjoyable.
    5.) Time with God in the morning with a quick devotional. I found myself reflecting on this during the day when I started this way. It sets the tone for a more positive day, and seemed to make me more aware of the needs of people around me, and not just what I have going on.

    What doesn't work / indeterminate:
    1.) Taking vitamins and fish oil. I can't say I have noticed a difference, but based on my knowledge I'm going to keep doing it.
    2.) Coupons. They don't generally seem to pay off in terms of time.
    3.) Abstaining from diet soda. Maybe I did not do it long enough, but I did not notice a difference. The benefits (taste, energy) are worth it to me.
    4.) Morning workouts. They did give me a little extra energy in the morning, but they cost me sleep and deprived me of one of the main benefits of exercise - stress relief, which I need at the end of the day, not the beginning.
    5.) Very low-carb diet. I try not to eat too many simple carbs anyway, but eliminating them did not seem to have an effect on me other than making me grumpy that I couldn't enjoy some of my favorite foods. And beef jerky is an expensive snack! However, a relatively low-carb diet overall has been of benefit.
    9.) Being extremely cost-conscious. I've relaxed with this, and have enjoyed the break from the anxiety as well as the convenience that spending money can sometimes buy. At this phase in our lives, we can afford to be less penny-pinching.

    So in the spirit of kata, I will keep experimenting while continuing the practices that have proven useful.






    Sunday, June 12, 2016

    Weekly Goals #19: The Right Process Will Yield the Right Results

    The next two weeks will be spent at home (save for an overnight at my parents' house on the weekend). I will need to do some intense preparation for my next trip, but it should be a relatively stable time.

    I need to remember to focus on the process inputs, not the results. The results can be used as feedback, but the priority should be on getting the inputs right. I think that's part of where I need improvement.
    1. Same breakfast and lunch every day. Result: Done, except for Friday when I had a work event. 
    2. Walk at least 3 miles a day (easy to track with my new FitBit Flex!). Result: Done except for Friday, when I had to drive to an event after work.
    3. Read Bible verse of the day each day Result: Done 4 out of 7 days. I really need to make this a habit by doing it at the same time each day, such as when I wake up. Otherwise I'm apt to forget.
    4. Listen to Living on the Edge when my commute time allows it. Result: I don't think I listened to any because I have been waking up and going to work early. However, I subbed in another sermon program, which isn't as good but I still benefited from it. A good example how one can still have good results even when the original goal isn't feasible. 
    5. Go to first Bible study. Great opportunity to fellowship. We need to do this. Result: Did not go because the study was cancelled. 
    6. Complete work activities on schedule. Result: Very good. Having a "Top 3" every day really helped to keep me on track. In fact, I got ahead and was able to pull up some activities that were originally scheduled for next week. 
    7. Be aware of opportunities to help others at work, not just get my work done. I can adjust my work to keep up. Result: Good. I made time for a coworker's calls and I was really glad I did. 
    8. Lab work to see why I am so tired all the time. Result: Not done. I thought I lost the lab paperwork so had to cancel the appointment. But I found it, so I will reschedule.
    9. Gemba Academy or other podcasts when exercising or commuting. Result: Listened to probably about 4 Gemba Academy and 7 Toyota Kata episodes. I learned a lot and am really enjoying the enrichment. 
    10. Enjoy a painting class with my Mom and sisters. Result: Done, although I did not enjoy it as much as I had thought. Part of it was heading straight there after Friday's work and spending the night. It was good to see family, though. 
    11. Enjoy a kayak ride with my Dad. Result: Not done, although I had the opportunity. I just wanted to get on the road. I wish that I had made time, though. 
    12. Just look at Edit #3 of my book. Don't have to do anything with it, just open it up and see where I am. Result: Not done...yet. The week isn't over yet, though!

    Sunday, June 5, 2016

    Weekly Goals #18: "Where there is no standard, there can be no kaizen."

    "Where there is no standard, there can be no kaizen." - Taichi Ohno

    I have been reflecting on this quote a lot recently, especially as I consider my weekly goals. There have been so many changes in my life in the past few months - ending my job, looking for work, starting a new job, moving to an apartment, then finally buying and moving to a new house.

    My coping mechanisms have struggled to manage the turmoil. I crave stability and predictability, and I need to refocus on my physical and mental health. I have so much I can give, but I can't do anything if I don't protect my health.

    So this week's goals revolve around taking care of myself so I can achieve my full potential. I read somewhere that the majority of people will never reach the heights for which they were destined. They die without fully realizing who they were created to be. I don't want my life to end like that. And I'm making the conscious effort to make the choice to live a life that brings glory to God. In the core of my being, I know that is the only way to live a life that matters.

    Before I can make significant gains, I first need to stabilize my baseline. This concept is as true in personal improvement as it is in process improvement. I need a standard. To that target, here are my goals for this week.

    1. Same breakfast and lunch every day.
    Result: Done, with the exception of Friday/Sat/Sunday where I had a heavier breakfast but a lighter lunch. Consistency is definitely key.

    2. Plan dinner. If I need to stop by the store to get something for it after work, that's okay.
    Result: Not really done in terms that I didn't really have dinner most nights. The one night I did was challenging.

    3. Drink more water. I cannot stress this enough - I had several headaches last week from becoming dehydrated. To help with this, I will buy bottled water to bring to work. It's not as economical as filling up a water bottle, but I'm more likely to drink it if I bring it.
    Result: I brought water a few days to work, and it was usually gone by noon. That helped a lot, and I'm going to continue it this week.

    4. Get plenty of (quality) sleep. I'm usually pretty good about this - most nights I'm in bed by nine, and wake up a few minutes before my alarm.
    Result: In bed by 9 every night except Thursday. I was so tired Friday from staying up so late despite sleeping in.

    6. Nourish my faith. I have been neglecting this lately and its correlated to my difficulty handling life. I can do two things. First, read the daily Bible verse in the morning before leaving work. Next, listen to Living on the Edge in the car on the way to work (7:05-7:30). Doing this first thing helps to set the tone for the whole day.
    Result: Living on the Edge 2 out of 4 days due to waking up and leaving for work early. Bible verse almost all days, I think. Not much noticeable results but hard to tell.

    7. Make a top 3 daily goals list every day. I find narrowing it to 3 ensures I get the most important priorities done.
    Result: Yes, this really helps me get my top priorities done. However, it does make me a little more rigid than I need to be. Something to watch out for. Sometimes the Top 3 need to be adjusted, and that's okay.

    8. Exercise most if not all days, even if that's 'just' going for a walk.
    Result: Done most days, despite the heat. 'Just' a walk, but I always felt better afterwards.

    9. Listen to Gemba Academy podcasts. I am learning so much about lean philosophy and tools and am able to apply it to what I do at work. This has been a great find.
    Result: Not only did I listen to about five, but I reached out to the host to let him know how much I enjoyed them, and he asked if I'd like to be a guest on the show! What an honor.

    10. Read. There is so much to learn. Right now, I have "The Art of War", "2-Second Lean", "Running on Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers", and "Zen Habits: Handbook for Life" lined up. Between a couple of plane rides and a long weekend, I want to get some good reading and learning done.
    Result: I finished "2-Second Lean" and about half of "The Toyota Way." 

    11. Make a plan for the long weekend, one that includes relaxing activities. Having a plan will help me feel less stressed about the time off. Some things I could include:
    • Going for a hike with my husband Result: Too hot. Went for walks every day though, including the downtown of a new city with my husband.
    • Doing my weekly 5S house activities  Result: Done - actually split it into two days after I got tired after having to do some extra work the first day. Worked fine.
    • Completing 1-2 projects from my household project pipeline Result: None done, but I'm okay with that.
    • Replacing lid switch on the washing machine  Result: Part did not arrive, so could not do this. Resulted in a trip to the Laundromat.
    • Weeding / yardwork Result: Done on Thursday when it wasn't too hot. It's starting to look good out there.
    • Reading books mentioned above Result: Done, during one afternoon and at bedtime. Gave me some good food for thought.
    • Napping. Result: 30 minute power nap on Saturday was all I needed.
    • Newcomer's group at church. Result: Done, with good relationship-building and learning about the church, culminating with our membership applications and an invite to a Bible study.
    Overall it was a good week.  I really enjoyed the time visiting another plant and helping them with a brainstorming session. However, I'm looking forward to the next two weeks at home. 

    Sunday, May 22, 2016

    Weekly Goals #17

    Four straightforward goals this week.

    1. Listen to at least 1 Gemba Academy podcast every day
    Result: I listened to a total of about 4 podcasts. Not quite 7, mainly because I didn't go for a walk or exercise a couple of days while I was in Toronto.

    2. Read my daily Bible verse and reflect on it throughout the day.
    Result: Read about 3/7. Not great. I honestly forgot most days that this was even one of my weekly goals. I need a way of keeping the goals in the forefront of my mind.

    3. Have a salad for lunch every day.
    Result: Done, every single day. I definitely ate more this week while traveling than I usually do, but for the most part I kept it pretty healthy (minus the generous portions of bacon every morning!)

    4. Learn more about how to execute Kaizen events
    Result: Definitely have learned a few things and have constructed a rough outline for my own Kaizen event that I will facilitate in late June. I'm nervous but also excited - it's going to push me out of my comfort zone in a good way.

    Saturday, May 7, 2016

    Weekly Goals #16: Stabilization

    This week, we moved into our beautiful new house. This is probably our 10-15 year home, God-willing. I also hope I work for my current company for at least as long. For the first time, I'm looking at a long period of stability. I am so grateful for this.

    During the past year, I've experience three job changes, a period of unemployment, and a move to another state. There's been plenty of transition. I'm ready now for consistency and routine.

    To that effect, here are some goals for this week.

    1.) Drink at least 1 cup of tea per day. The health benefits of tea are well-known, yet I rarely drink it.
    Results: Not great although I did finish my box of detox tea. Which, by the way, I don't think works.

    2.) Read the daily Bible verse on my phone app every day. I have been neglecting my spiritual life and this needs to change. I miss God.
    Result: I completed maybe two days. I need to make this a habit. So simple. This will be a repeat goal.

    3.) Make significant progress on my project at work. Most of my time is self-directed so there can be a tendency to procrastinate if I don't keep pushing myself. I have a major deadline coming up in June that I need to be prepared for.
    Result: Definitely significant progress, and now I'm almost ready to roll it out to the team.

    4.) Start planning for my sister's summer visit. She's going to come for a few days, most likely in July, and I can't wait. I love spending time with her.
    Result: Have started planning mentally. Soon I'll start booking things. I can't wait.

    5.) Get all the major things put away in my house. This has been an incredibly easy move with having packers and movers, but there's a lot of little things that need to be taken care of still. I'm starting to feel settled in already, though.
    Result: Done. In addition, I've organized, set up a tool board, and a bookcase. Things are looking good around here and I'm feeling very settled.

    Monday, February 1, 2016

    Gratitude: A Reflection Upon Turning 30

    Soon I turn 30 years old. There is so much that I have to be thankful for. I want to take this time, at my birthday, to reflect on what God has blessed me with.

    1. The sustenance and hope that my faith has provided me. 
    2. My health. 
    3. My husband. He is my best friend and constant comfort. His steady, supporting presence and love have been such a gift to me. I thank God that we found each other 
    4. My younger sister.
    5. My parents.
    6. My older sisters. 
    7. My brother.
    8. My restored relationship with my father. 
    9. My in-laws. I could not ask for better parents-in-law. They are generous, caring, and respectful of my husband and me. 
    10. Music. It has been such an encouragement to me spiritually since I was a child. It provides me with motivation while I'm working out, too. 
    11. My house. It's not big, but it has provided us with a comfortable home for the past six years. The location near a major interstate has proved to be a huge advantage. 
    12. My cats. A constant source of entertainment, these furry friends bring me laughter and joy. They truly are part of our little family. 
    13. My car. I absolutely love my Honda Civic. It's pleasure to drive, and has not had any major issues in its 100,000+ miles. 
    14. My computer. Last Christmas, my in-laws got us a Chromebook, and it is really terrific. Very light and portable with a long battery life. It's perfect for slipping into my bag and bringing to a coffee shop. 
    15. Our gigantic bed. Yes, another material possession, but really - one of the best investments we've made. 
    16. My gym membership and location. For the past six years, my gym has provided me with countless opportunities to relieve stress, especially during the cold winter months. I especially appreciate its 1/8 mile indoor track and group fitness classes. Best of all, it's only a quarter of a mile from my house. How's that for convenience?
    17. My mind. I have been blessed with a decent mind, and it has enabled me (most of the time) to sort though options and make some good choices. 
    18. My education. Choosing a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering was one of the best choices I have made. It wasn't easy, but it has given me instant credibility in the workforce and a significant advantage. 
    19. My work experience. All of my jobs have taught me something. Sometimes the lesson was "This isn't what I want to do for the rest of my life," and sometimes it was, "This is where my passion is!" I'm fortunate to have discovered the type of work that brings me fulfillment at a relatively young age. 
    20. Our financial stability. Both my husband and I are frugal and good at saving money. This has given us a lot of freedom, i.e. being able to take several months off work to find the right next job. It also provides a type of peace knowing that we can handle most unexpected situations that might arise. I'm very fortunate to have found a life partner that shares my conservative approach to finances. 

    Friday, January 1, 2016

    2016 Goals: 30th Year Edition

    2016 will be my 30th year on this planet. While I know in the greater scheme of things, this is not that old, it feels like it is to me. I'm sure when I'm 40, I will look back at 30 with longing - I should make the most of the time that I've been given, for it is a gift.

    2016 Goals:

    Book:
    1.) Finish manuscript:
       a.) Edit #2
       b.) Edit #3

    2.) Submit query letter and sample chapters of book to 10 literary agents:
        a.) Finish query letter
        b.) Identify 10 agents
        c.) Mail packet (query letter + 3 sample chapters) to 10 agents

    Faith:
    1.) Deepen faith and develop relationship with God
        a.) Daily devotionals & journaling
        b.) Daily prayer
        c.) Church and fellowship with other believers (small group?)

    Health:
    1.) Be healthy in mind:
        a.) Read 30 books
        b.) Deepen knowledge of continuous improvement, six sigma, and management

    2.) Be healthy in body
        a.) Exercise 4-5 times per week, including strength training
        b.) Drink 8 glasses of water a day

    Relationships:
    1.) Maintain key relationships
         a.) 'Conversation' dates with my husband at least 1x per month
         b.) See my sister at least 6 times, including several days during the summer if possible
         c.) See my brother at least 2 times
         d.) See my mom and dad at least 4 times
         e.) Girl's weekend in Asheville, NC for my birthday
         f.) Hikes with Alex and Kelly before leaving KY
         g.) See my father and stepmother several times

    Career:
    1.) Establish new career
         a.) Identify target position
         b.) Identify target industries and companies
         c.) Apply and interview for openings matching a) and b)
         d.) Receive and accept appropriate offer
         e.) Begin job and excel at it
         f.) Find opportunities to mentor young women in STEM careers.

    Relocation:
    1.) Establish life in new area
        a.) Prepare house to sell
        b.) Sell house
        c.) Buy new house
        d.) Find new church
        e.) Find new doctor, dentist, and counselor
        f.) Find new coffee shops!
        g.) Find new running locations