Strategy

iPad

I bought an iPad 3 the weekend it hit the stores.  I’d wanted one since the original iPad was introduced, but I could never justify the purchase.  I mean, seriously … buying one isn’t a life-or-death decision, right?  It’s simply want versus need.  But this year, I took some money from my tax return and spent it on a luxury item.  Do I feel guilty about that?  Nope.

It’s a great thing, and I’m sure I’ll come to rely on it more and more as I use it and find other wonderful things it can do.  For now, I’m enjoying taking photos and posting them on Facebook or WordPress; recommending books, music, movies, and more on Hunch; and having instant access to the internet when I want it.

Even more, though, it’s helping me with strategy.  A game helps – backgammon.  Backgammon is all about strategy and the roll of the dice (I downloaded a pretty cool backgammon app for my iPad).  Picking up the iPad in lieu of picking up my project management exam prep books is strategizing about spending a few minutes with my little luxury item instead of reading, memorizing, and preparing for a four-hour exam.  Is it the right thing to do at that moment?  Will I feel guilty about it?  Don’t I really need a mental break from the studying?

And then I strategized about taking the iPad instead of lugging my camera and lenses up to Vermont for an unplanned trip I had to make last week.  Would there be opportunities to take photos?  Would there be anything worth shooting?  Take a multitasking item like the iPad or take the single-purpose Nikon?  Not exactly a tough decision, I took the iPad.  And, as it turned out, there was no opportunity or reason to shoot photos anyway.  My strategy was sound.

Determining a strategy is something we do every day.  We decide how we’ll start our day – hitting that snooze button one more time instead of hitting the shower (do I want to take a chance on sleeping 10 more minutes assuming that traffic will be a breeze, or do I want to get up now and hit the road so I can stop at the Jiffy Mart for cup of coffee).  We decide how we treat our work, our thoughts, our livelihoods (do I take the time to backup my computer or assume the risk of not backing up because hey, it’s a brand name laptop and chances are the hard disk won’t crash).  Sometimes we win; sometimes we lose.

We don’t think about life being a strategy but it is.  Everything we do every day has been thought through in some context to some extent even if we don’t realize it.  It’s decisions, choices, and strategies – some conscious, some unconscious.  We are the masters of our fates, and the choices we make, the strategies we use, say a lot about us whether we realize it or not.

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One thing … just one thing!

Why is it so hard to find one thing … just ONE thing that you’re really so good at that the rest of your life could literally depend on your capability of doing just that one thing?  It shouldn’t be hard, right?

The question is posed by those who spark the notion of following your dream and building a business around the one thing you do best.  Whatever that is.

I’ve been trying to isolate my “one thing” for a while.  I find it difficult to put my finger on something that could become my career in a worst case scenario where I become unemployed and where the only option becomes starting my own business.  I mean, the reality is that you have to be REALLY, EXTREMELY good at whatever it is you plan to do, enough that you can pay the bills and provide shelter, clothing, and food for your family.  Oh, and you have to have the money to start the business too.

Is it that I don’t have enough confidence to take that leap of faith, or is it that I’m too much of a realist to even consider that it could become a reality (once I decide what that “one thing” is, of course).

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this – those that know their “one thing” and those that have actually taken the plunge.

Spam® … the Edible Kind

Classic Spam

I don’t know if it has something to do with the change to daylight savings time today or some weird craving for the past, but this morning I woke up determined to have a Spam® sandwich.  Crazy?  Yeah, I know!

Back in Chicago growing up in the 60’s, Spam® was not a stranger in our home. Spam® and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Fried Spam® for dinner. Spam® smothered in ketchup (the only way to swallow it back in those days).  We didn’t have it every week or anything like that, but we had it often enough.

My Dad used to joke that my Mom could feed an entire army on one can of Spam®.  She could slice it so thin that you could almost see through it.  No joke.  But you know what?  Extremely thin slices fried up crispy to the point of being crunchy is the best way to eat it.

So that’s what I did this morning.  I opened a can (yes I always keep a can of Spam® in the basement pantry for these situations that might occur every year or two), cut three very thin slices, fried them until they were crispy, and then made s sandwich.  A Spam® sandwich and coffee – what a great American breakfast!

As for the rest of the chunk of meaty(?) substance?  It’s in a sandwich bag in the fridge.  It will probably sit there for a couple of weeks until someone decides on trash day to throw it out.  I mean, seriously – it won’t last in the fridge for a year, will it?

Hmmm ….

Goals

Goals are great things.  But I think there is a saturation point.  Too many goals can equate to some disappointment.

My goals this year have been to blog at least once per week, play the guitar more, get my project management certification, read at least one book per quarter, exercise a little more than not at all, do a little yoga each week, and pay down my credit cards with more than just the minimum payments due.  So can you guess how I’ve done so far?

Well, let me tell you …

I’m taking an eight-week course on project management certification prep at UMBC Training Centers.  Every Saturday through the end of March I’ll be there – an hour away from home.  My Saturday is consumed from 7 am until 5 pm between driving and class.  That leaves Sunday to get the laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping done because during the evening I’m reading and studying.  A little exhausting.  After the classes end, I’ll be doing the last-minute cramming for the certification exam in April or May.

Haven’t picked up the guitar in weeks.  So sad.  I really need to learn a song for the Fiddler’s Convention in June.

Reading?  Well, I have been trying to finish “Just Kids” by Patti Smith because that’s the book I’ll be giving away on World Book Night, April 23.  That will be a lot of fun.

Blogging?  That’s evident – this is my first blog in weeks.

Yoga?  LOL

Exercise?  ROTFLMAO

Sometimes goals need adjusting to accommodate change.  We learn in project management that processes are iterative and that even the best laid plans need reviewing and modification at times.  You don’t necessarily accept the change request at face value; ou look for alternatives that will still allow you to meet your goals.  So that’s what I’m doing – looking for alternatives.

The noise of life is deafening sometimes.  My new over-arching goal is to tone down the noise a little, put in the earplugs sometimes so I can focus on one thing at a time.  Slice up the evenings and weekends so that I’m not letting everything else slip away while only one thing gets focused on; i.e., spending an hour on a Sunday morning writing a blog won’t really impact getting the laundry or grocery shopping done.  I guess it boils down to time management.