It is clear that the events of '08 radically altered all our lives. As we have ended the typical season for introspection and resolution-making, I decided to do my own reflection on the year and focus not on what happened in '08, but rather what I want to happen in '09. The list is not exhaustive, nor an indication of priority. Rather, it is just Nine things I want to accomplish in '09. My "Nine for '09"
By way of background, the genesis for this list started back when I took a life changing course called Total Leadership (I highly recommend my professor's book - Total Leadership by Stew Friedman) when I was at the Wharton School finishing my MBA. That course taught me the importance of developing a long term vision for myself, aligning my actions to my values, and identifying priorities for four domains in my life - work, family, community and self. Life should be about integrating these domains, not trying to balance them because that will be a never-ending struggle with limited success. You may be interested in this thought provoking piece called "Do Not Waste This Crisis" Stew wrote on the Harvard Business Publishing website.
My "Nine for '09" - in no particular order:
- Read at least one non-business or non-political book per month. I am an avid reader. I love autobiographies of world leaders (I think I've read all the big ones), and of course I read lots of business books. But I never find the time to read anything else. That changes in '09. January 1st, I spent the day reading Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind". Brilliant book that really peaked my interest in the neurosciences. So maybe that'll be my first book - something neuroscience related.
- Undertake at least one significant photography project for the year. I love taking pictures. The more pictures I took, the fussier I got about the image quality so I treated myself to a Nikon D300 and the works for my graduation present. Now my objective is to learn to use it properly and focus on a type of photography. I love nature so much that I earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in the environment. I also love black and white photography. So far, I have identified a hands on photography course that runs for a month and I'll be doing that and see where I go next from there.
- Be consistent with my exercise regime and dietary habits. Right now, I try to workout everyday but it ends up being six days a week. And I have had a strict dietary regime for years - low sugars, no or limited white products, lots of vegetables and fruits and nuts etc. Good for health. Good for nutrition. The difficulty with working out is that it's hard to stay committed - something always comes up. Now that I have a Wii Fit, all that has changed. It's fun and convenient. No excuse. The discipline is really rewarding.
- Prioritize personal finances. I've been extraordinarily lucky in this crisis. I have had no personal financial crisis of any form and I am still employed. But, this is no time to rest on my laurels. I will be even more careful and prudent, but look out for the investment opportunties that do exist.
- Learn a new skill/Do a refresher course. For those of you who know me, this may seem really odd since I have four degrees - a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Environmental Systems (UPenn), a Master of Science in Engineering Science (Harvard) and a MBA from the Wharton School. However, we continue to live in uncertain times. Record job losses at all levels in all sectors. It is always beneficial to keep fresh with marketable skills.
- Do at least one unexpected nice thing for my family every month. New Year's Day, I cooked dinner for my family (I don't normally do the cooking), and that felt good. At Christmas, we exchanged presents for the first time in a long time (we had outgrown the tradition because of age). Christmas shopping for them was fun. The nice thing does not have to be expensive. You would never believe which present thrilled my mother the most - it was something really practical and cost very little!
- Watch at least one new movie every month - DVD or at the cinema. I love movies but always say I am too busy. My normal evening routine is MSNBC - can't miss Chris, Rachel or Keith. But I've watched a few movies recently and I have to say that the animated or kiddies movies have really made me realize how much I miss them. Plus, movies are a great way to put things in perspective and forget about whatever your day to day issues are. Also, kids movies are the best for getting creative juices flowing.
- Blog. If you have been following my blog, you may note that this is the first entry since December 5, 2008. I'm not much of a blogger - this is my first time at it. Actually, my aunt asked me to do it when I kept yabbering on about the economy and the elections. I only write when something is really bugging me so I resolved to take a hiatus until after January 20th 2009. The President-elect cannot do anything until then. Turns out, I enjoy blogging, and was surprised by how many people actually read the entries, and found them useful. For that reason, I'll keep blogging
- Maintain my gratitude journal. That's right, I have a book and before I go to bed I give God thanks. I may itemize all the things that I can think of at the time. But usually, I give a general thanks - especially for my family. I make a point of making an entry especially when I can think of mostly negative things so it's very helpful in a economic downturn.
- This would be 10, but let's call it a Stretch Target (a marketing term for an extremely ambitious goal): Start writing a book. I've actually tried a few times, but never was very disciplined at it. I don't have a topic, and no, it's not about me or my life. But, I've learned at lot and maybe some of that may be useful to someone - written as a novel or something. Problem? I have no idea how to write a book. Never took a class. But, in all my life, there were tons of things I did not know how to do yet I learned how to do them - at school, or on the job, with big responsibilities, or over matters of little import. The fact is that I tried and I did it. Somehow this year, I am going to make a meaningful substantial start. Maybe I'll find a mentor.