Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Agile Approach to Families

The organisation I work for has Agile embedded in as part of its culture. It was really amazing to come to a large organisation and not see a single Microsoft Project Gantt Chart anywhere. After you get the swing of iterations, breaking down work and conducting huddles and retrospectives, things really start to move.

Last year when my personal goals were not going in the direction I wanted, at the pace I wanted, I started to use retrospective planning at home. What is working well, what is not, and what do I need to change? It only took 30 minutes and a wall chart to regain some focus and prioritise what needed to change.
I had heard of some Agile legends at work taking the approach into their families, but upon listening to this TED talk, I think that I may start to take some of his ideas into my family life. Communication is essential in life, at work and home. Often the at home piece is the one to suffer. I think some of the out takes from the talk may bring some new skills to the family unit. I really love the concept of a weekly family session, and re cutting time.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Life Check

Picture From
Well it sure has been an interesting month. Tomorrow I am back to the nutritionist, after a month on a very strict (ok, I may have consumed some chocolate that was on the naughty list) alkaline diet. The pain is ever present, but I do have an increase in energy. Tonight for the very first time in many months I came home and cooked two dinners, and pre-made lunch for tomorrow. I managed an hour work out, cleaned and did the washing! The house is starting to look organised.

Whilst the health is starting to improve, work has certainly been a trial. Upon missing out on a recent promotion, I had been contemplating what was happening in the universe. It puzzled me that things had not worked out according to my strategy. There are two quotes on the mirror this month;
"Think good thoughts
Speak good words
Take good actions
Three steps that will bring more to you than you can ever imagine" (The Secret)
After the shock wore off, I contemplated what had gone wrong. I watched the other party struggle under the weight of the role, and went off to have a chat and show some support. Despite what I thought, my actions demonstrated that I was a person who cared, and that action will stand me in good stead with the individual long after all of the ruckus has passed. It also demonstrated to the broader audience that I had taken it all in my stride, and it was a mere blip on the career path ladder. Of course I did have a chuckle at the second quote;
"Most things are difficult before they are easy" (Unknown)

In reflecting on the situation, I went back and had a look at the 65 year plan. I am already way ahead on the salary goals. This time in life was scheduled for family time, time for raising a daughter. The financial goals are on track, and seemingly taking care of themselves. Health and fitness goals are up and down, depending on the health. This was another reminder of what is important in life.

Fast forward another week to the present and the position is now advertised for a permanent recruit, and the role has been downgraded by two levels! This makes a marginal difference to my current salary, and after tax, even less. It is not worth all the effort, stress and hours for the small increase in pay. It certainly will not make up for the time away from my daughter, partner and family. It wouldn't allow me to come home make a few meals, do a work out and catch up on some cleaning!

Things always work out like they should, although in the moment you may not understand why, take a look at the goals you set and work out where you are meant to be, and what you action you may need to take to prepare for a different result.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Goal No. 129 Catch a NZ Trout

Balancing working full time and parenting is always tricky. But school holidays are a challenge. How are you meant to fit four weeks annual leave with the endless amount of school holidays. After a delightful week at the beach, we zipped off for a short adventure to the South Island of NZ.

We collected our car in Dunedin, and then headed along the coast and up into the mountains. The countryside is amazing, but bears a strong sense to home, to the Tasmanian terrain. The first view of Lake Tekapo was a sight to behold after a long drive.

We took a quick dip in the hot springs, which really should be renamed to hot pools given that the rocks were fake and any thoughts of mineral therapy long gone. Next stop was the adventure capital, Queenstown. Here we managed to ride in the gondola up the hill, luge our way around, oh and a bit of an Eco tour of the forest on the zip line. I was slightly worried about this activity, but the nervous giggles were soon gone and replaced with a huge grin. The Haka show was fun, as was the banquet with the awesome dessert bar.

We also found a great sweet shop, ate the best burgers at Fergburger, scored and awesome pie at the Ferg bakery. Our travelling companions headed off for bungy and a shot over jet boat, whilst we took a more sedentary option of a private fishing tour. Our journey was rewarded and I shall tick off the next goal of catching a NZ trout, or actually two of them. More than enough for our BBQ dinner later that night.


Teaching the Generations Budgeting

Life has changed in many ways as our small family adopts my 15 year old niece. The jump from parenting a four year old was HUGE, but I think we are doing OK.

In a recent mentoring program I did with some year nine students, I heard about the concept of 'The Bank of Mum and Dad'. Now this bank seems to have no interest rates, no fees, unlimited supply and is teaching our kids that financial responsibility is no longer something that is important. The results are that teenagers purchase without comparing prices, buy without actually having a need for the item, and never actually check the receipt to see if the price paid was the advertised price.

I have also noticed with our new family member that the traits are very similar. Upon reading about a new book titled 'The $21 Challenge', my little cogs began to turn. So today I announced that our family has a shopping budget of $100 per week. The 15 year old looked bug eyed at me, tyring to see if the Aunt's sense of humour was working overtime. Nope, she looks serious, this could be trouble!

I laid out the rules of the game, the $100 has to last the seven days, and is for all meals, all family members, and includes all items from the supermarket. Test #1, I need razors, cat food and deodorant. Response, well I will pay for the cheapest deodorant...No I use Impulse brand...cool, you can pay the difference from the cheapest one to the one you want....and BTW the cat has just been down graded from premium to budget!

Supposedly a family can live out of their current food stocks for a month. Right, next family task is to catalogue the freezer and pantry, write up a list of options for meals and work out what we need to actually purchase to compliment our current stocks. Actual list comes up with about a month's supply!

Reality check #35 there are two tins of baked beans in the pantry. Squeak from teenager, I can't eat those. Reality check # 36, the more we spend out of the $100 budget, the closer we get to those baked beans! Additional free good news, I paid the $47 to join the Savings Website (www.simplesavings.com.au) and I now have 50 recipes to enhance those baked beans!