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:

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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