Proactive Aging… Tweaking the Course

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“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is a quote I’ve shared more than a handful of times throughout my life. But, I’ve never thought of it in respect to having a plan for how I’ll handle various symptoms of the aging process, specifically the ability to effectively keep track of everything.  Sure, I’ve worked on things like refining my sleep habits, managing stress, and adjustments in diet, but I haven’t changed the way I organize my life in some time. When I arrived at my daughter’s friend’s tea party on the wrong day and did the same thing for a friend’s multi-level marketing get together a few months later, I knew changes were necessary.

While I recognize that early 40s certainly aren’t considered “old,” I’m realizing that a number of factors come with time that make organizing life a little more challenging… like parenting, home ownership, aging parents, increased (better) responsibilities at work, etc. Over the years, I’ve found myself looking at days from the perspective of infinite blocks of time to now increments of 15 minutes. There’s just more to do, and I don’t want to be the person that complains about the quantity of stuff required. I just want to be able to better manage all the things, which means getting what’s important done while maintaining a high quality of life.

So, spouse says to me the other day as I’m complaining about my difficulty in trying to manage what seems like a million things at one time:

“If you know you’re getting older and going to have these issues, why not plan around it and organize yourself in a different way?”

The statement itself forces me to recognize the issue and take initial steps towards improvement rather than to continue to worry and consider various solutions I’m not likely to implement. Preventative action seems like the best course of action in this case. A lot has changed since my 20s and even my 30s… maybe the way I manage myself and my life could use some updating.

My plan:

  1. Evaluate how I’m currently organizing myself. What works and what doesn’t? I pride myself on being an organized person, but if what I’m doing isn’t working anymore, I need to make some adjustments. I might even throw in a little 5 Whys in there to try and figure out the root cause of why what I’m doing is failing in the first place. I could ramble off a number of reasons that contribute to the problem. But, what’s that one thing? How can I fix that?
  2. Develop a new system, or tweak the old one as necessary. When I really gave it some thought, my half-butt use of Google Calendar and the inbox combined with the scribbled notebook I like to think of as my “planner,” it’s no wonder the system is starting to fail. It’s definitely not scalable, and I worry I haven’t been as organized as I’ve thought all these years. I guess just having the notebook isn’t half the battle after all.
  3. Re-evaluate what I’m doing and make adjustments. Rather than suddenly being surprised and affected again, I’d like to just make minor corrections as I go along.

I’ll admit I’ve gone through this before. I’ll read Lifehacker or similar posts and try the latest organizer (the SELF Journal lived a short life) or organization system (the kanban experiment was fun).  But, I think approaching it as a proactive solution to an issue I know will get worse if I keep doing the same thing seems plausible.

Plan > Do > Check > Act… it never fails to be applicable.

 

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Personal Social Responsibility: Mind Map & Mission Statement

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I’m in the final moments before leaving for WCQI and wanted to post my example mind map and mission statement as it relates to my Monday “After 5” session.

The handouts I’ll be distributing and using for the activities are attached below as well. 🙂

Personal Mission Statement Handout:

AF04_Handout_Activity

Personal Social Responsbility: Tips & Resources to Get Started:

PSR_Handout

 

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WCQI Countdown… #WCQI17

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Do most people get this excited about an annual conference?

Probably not.

But, I’m not “most people.” And, the peeps I know in the quality industry that will be at ASQ’s annual World Conference on Quality & Improvement next week aren’t “most people” either.

I’ve actually got quite a bit to be excited about this time around:

  • I’ve waited over 15 years for that black and gold Fellow ribbon. This is my year… Yay!
  • I’ve got two speaking sessions that allow me to communicate my passion for social responsibility. On the one hand, I get to discuss supplier social responsibility and the process of auditing for corrective actions. On the other hand, I get to spend some time talking to people about living more socially responsible in their personal lives. We’ll be creating mission statements and mind mapping our passions away. Super fun. (Sessions are both on 5/1 from 3-4pm and 5:30-6:45pm)
  • The Social Responsibility Technical Community (SRTC) will be exhibiting (#618), and I’m looking forward to spending some time there. Did I mention I’m bringing granola bars for the booth again? Sustainable energy FTW. (Join the SRTC LinkedIn Group)
  • I won’t be able to spend time working the Education Division booth, but I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the division’s leadership.  They are truly an inspiring group of individuals that are fun to boot. (Join the Education Division LinkedIn Group)
  • Last year was the first time my ASQTV appearance wasn’t a train wreck. This year is going to be even better! I’m happy to have this additional opportunity to promote my sessions and share some of what I’ve learned about social audits. And, it forces me out of my comfort zone. I like that sometimes.
  • Pro QC will also have a booth again (#607), and I’m looking forward to seeing how our new Project Coordinator does in the trenches.
  • Pro QC’s Supplier Development Manager will be visiting from China. It’s his first trip to the U.S., and I can’t wait to introduce him to the quality community here. He’s gonna really feel the love…
  • On that note, I can’t wait to be recharged and surrounded by the ASQ friends I haven’t seen since last year. Pro QC’s former VP referred to the ASQ community as a cult after attending WCQI in Dallas a few years back. I take that as a compliment in context, of course.
  • Each year, I leave energized and ready to employ new tools and strategies learned from professionals in the field. I’m never able to attend all the sessions I’d like to due to conflicts in scheduling, but I select carefully and access the presentations afterwards to catch-up. The keynote presentations always get me pumped.

I’m incredibly grateful to the quality community for making this annual event something to look forward to.

The countdown to Charlotte is on…

Past articles regarding my WCQI experiences are found here:

#WCQI16

#WCQI15

#WCQI14

#WCQI11

 

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Top 10 Lessons Learned About Change – Managing Relocation

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A few months ago, my husband was offered a challenging new position and relocation to Denver, CO after a merger with the organization he has worked with for over 17 years.

That said, I have spent a significant amount of time telling others how they should embrace change. But, I wasn’t feeling that way when faced with a move across the country.  As a native Floridian, I had escaped snow and ice my entire life. Now, at 40, I was being challenged to accept a change that would move me away from my family and cause me to cut ties as an adjunct instructor at HCC.  Life as an adjunct instructor had no doubt been a highlight of the last decade. And, having our family close by helped out tremendously with our kids and busy work schedules. My initial reaction to this change was not positive at all.

But, as I sit here with packers carefully wrapping up my life and a final flight leaving for CO on Monday, I can say I’ve learned a few things worth sharing:

1. Change is actually really hard. I had to consciously and continuously push through and keep telling myself that it’s better to try something and regret it then to look back and wish you had. It’s easy to do this with the small stuff, but the real challenge is to make it work with the big stuff too. I’m walking the walk now.

2. Empathy helps. My immediate reaction was all about how “I” felt and the sacrifices “I’d” have to make. But, I didn’t take into consideration the amazing opportunity that my husband had earned and the possibility of a better life for our kids where they can be outdoors and experience life in a whole new way.

3. Focusing on the positive makes all the difference. Whenever I started finding myself getting sad about not teaching or stressed about how I’m going to drive in the snow, I made myself think of something that was going to be amazing as a result of the change. For example, I will experience seasons! And, there are new places to eat, hike, picnic, camp, shop, etc. In fact, our backyard is essentially one big network of hiking trails surrounded by a herd of buffalo.  Trading in alligators for buffalo doesn’t seem so bad! And, research does prove that being outside is good for overall health and quality of life. Denver hasn’t recently been voted the #1 place to live for nothing!

11 Scientific Benefits of Spending More Time Outside

U.S. News Best Places to Live

4. Buying a home is such an emotional process.  As a true quality geek, I spent a few hours before the first home search putting together a grid analysis to help me analytically decide. I had all the factors lined up perfectly: schools, commute time, HOA fees, neighborhood, etc. I had a rating scale that allowed for weights of certain items. It was going to be great! That is, until I walked into the home that we ended up purchasing. At that point, the scores didn’t matter. The fact that there was carpet in the bathroom didn’t matter. It was the perfect house. And, I learned that emotions do have a place at the decision table in some situations.  Touché.

5. Saying goodbye is hard. When it comes to friends, I’m a quality over quantity kind of gal. And, I never expected it would be so difficult to say farewell. Between work and family, there’s honestly little social time to start with. So, Facebook has become my connection to the world over the years. And, I’m hoping to stay in touch with loved ones here as I develop a new network in Denver. I’ve already reached out to the Denver ASQ section and am excited to see that they host so many community SR events.  Also, moving to such a “cool” place opens my doors to Florida friends/family wanting to escape the excruciating heat!

6. As a planner, I like to have everything organized but I learned very quickly in this process that curveballs can happen on a daily basis. For example, when I flew to Denver to close on our new home, we discovered the previous owners weren’t moved out and had not completed the required repairs.  Then, the first couple that purchased our home in Tampa bailed out after their parents in Beijing decided they didn’t like it and wouldn’t fund it. But, there’s a solution to every problem. Right? Rather than getting upset, we figured out what we needed to do to make it work. And, it all did. The curveballs actually made the results better than expected.

7. When I find myself getting anxious trying to juggle the move, work, kids, etc., I’ve started redirecting myself to a more mindful state. I even bought a fidget cube to help me refocus when necessary. That deep breathe that used to mean I was getting anxious about something now gives me an opportunity to take a moment to be aware of my surroundings and exist in that moment. Worrying about yesterday or tomorrow isn’t going to help me right now. Who knows how many more times I’ll have this experience?  Staying focused and grateful for this moment is priceless.

8. Big change is an open door to slip in all kinds of other change you haven’t succeeded with yet. For example, our kids have been put on notice that we will live a more active lifestyle and put more consideration into our diets. That wouldn’t have worked so easily with our daily lives so set in our routine here. But, it will work if we slip this into the move and make it an immediate habit.

9. Projecting positivity really does affect the people around you. While there may have been inner turmoil at times, it was important to me that the kids were excited and all-in.  From countdown calendars to travel guides/books to state-specific coloring pages, I tried my best to create anticipation of a great adventure. I think communicating with them and focusing on the benefits really made a difference.  They seem genuinely excited.

10. The amount of work involved with a relocation like this, even with a relocation company assisting, seems insurmountable at first. I mean, it took less documentation for me to bring a child into the world! Hours and hours of time have gone into this process. And, it can seem overwhelming at times. So, I needed something to focus on.  That something is a dog. As soon as the snow melts and springs creeps in, I want a puppy to join our crew and be a part of this next phase of our lives. After all, it turns out kids like pets better than their own siblings anyway. It’s time for this petless family to load up the Subarus with a furry friend.  That’s what I’m targeting for the future. But, at the same time, I’m enjoying the journey as much as possible.

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So your kid ate the marshmallow…

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At some point in the 1960s, Stanford researchers decided to learn more about delayed gratification.  They conducted what’s know as the Marshmallow Experiment (Test) and discovered some interesting stuff:

“The purpose of the original study was to understand when the control of delayed gratification, the ability to wait to obtain something that one wants, develops in children. The children were led into a room, empty of distractions, where a treat of their choice was placed on a table, by a chair. The children could eat the treat, the researchers said, but if they waited for fifteen minutes without giving in to the temptation, they would be rewarded with a second treat. In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index and others.”  

Fast forward to Christmas 2016, and both of my kids indicate they want coupons. The year before, I struggled regarding what to get my pre-teen son who only lives for video games and has everything he could ever want or need. I decided to put together a coupon book that would allow him things like 1/2 hour of extra game time, a free pass on cleaning his room or eating dinner, etc.

Surprisingly, the coupon book was a big hit. He savored the coupons throughout the year, using them strategically and with great care.

Due to the popularity of the coupons last year, my younger daughter decided to ask Santa for a coupon book of her own this past Christmas. My son asked for more coupons as well.

Santa delivered.

The notable point here is that my daughter immediately started using the coupons and couldn’t be bothered to listen to why she might want to save them for later use. She just had to spend the coupons.

So, I’ve got a kid that would eat the marshmallow. Now what?

Research uncovered has given me some level of assurance that the behavior can be modified. One article I read discussed a correlation with establishing trust.  Others have tips for teaching your kids delayed gratification in a number of ways. For example:

  1. Don’t punish bad behavior. Instead, reward good behavior.
  2. Teach goal setting behavior.  Of course, make them SMART!
  3. Use positive distraction skills.
  4. Teach self directed speech.
  5. Help them learn how to develop a plan and think critically.
  6. Teach and support the importance of savings.
  7. Practice mindfulness.
  8. Set an example. Kids imitate behavior.

So, this year I’m on a mission. Each kid has 10 coupons to spend. Let’s see if I can modify behavior enough to get my daughter to delay gratification, or at least critically evaluate the possibility.

 

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