The New Year

And so this is another of the typical new year posts that people do, except that instead of doing it in the new year, it is done four days into the new year. Anyway this is done as a means to reflect back on the year that had past and is not meant to be entertaining.

First things first. At the start of every year, I do some resolutions and it is time to see how spectacularly I have failed. And after typing this, I realised that one of the reason I probably failed that badly was because I didn’t articulate my resolutions properly in 2015. I had done so in 2014, and even did a review in Dec 14 where I mentioned how I will review my mindmaps and set out my goals. Only that I didn’t get down to it.

One of the resolutions I had, but did not express, was to continue my one book a month reading stint. I was reminded of it when I accessed my Facebook today and noticed how friends were quoting that Mark Zuckerberg reads two books a month. In 2014, I was half as efficient as him. In 2015, I should expect to have improved right? Wrong. I was not motivated and I only accomplished half. That’s six books and here they are:

Jan: Value Investing for Dividend Growth

Feb: Common Stocks, Uncommon Profits

Mar: The Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli

Jun: Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking hats

Jul: The Power Of Forgetting by Mike Byster with Kristin Loberg

Dec: Drive: The surprising truth of what motivates us by Daniel H. Pink

However this doesn’t mean that I only bought or borrowed six books this year. I have had some books on hold for some time, for example, The Fifth Discipline (bought way back many years ago), a Technical Analysis Book, The Intelligent Investor, International Reits and also Mr George Yeo’s collection of speeches. I just didn’t get down to reading as much. Even the book in December was read because I wanted to read it to use it for an essay. This has to change, and to get reading back into a habit, I should start small. I will read 20 minutes a day before I sleep. This should be easy in January as I have to continue researching for my essay.

Next, it finally hit me that my tummy is too disgustingly big and that it has reached a point of no return. Except that this has to return where it came from and I’m not going to carry it for life. To improve on my fitness, I will do sit ups and push ups daily.

In 2015, I received many opportunities at work. I continued to be an effective manager, and carried on my work on reliability. I went on a working overseas trip, and also participated in a study team to look into operational training at my workplace. I was also posted out of my workplace into a new environment which I am trying to adapt and become efficient. To be honest, it wasn’t easy and I am rather stressed out and apprehensive of the work.

So for 2016, I need to be positive and to look at each challenge optimistically. To just do my best and not have any regrets. To this end, I will:

  1. Take on opportunities along the way with a smile
  2. Do daily reflections of what went well and what didn’t
  3. Do weekly reflections on the projects that I am handling (which I did do for a while until I got posted to my new workplace)

For investments, my portfolio did well, but only because the value of USD went up significantly in 2015. Hence even though the value of my portfolio dropped, the overall SGD value increased. However this is not sustainable, so I better continue to read The Edge magazines and to do my read up on companies.

I guess I should end here. The longer the list, the tougher and less fun it gets and the harder it is to make it a good habit to adopt for new year resolutions.

I hope I will remember to periodically do my reviews so that I will be able to end 2016 saying that I met most of my resolutions.

A new direction for the blog

I had wanted to set a new direction for my blog today. The focus was on issues like enhancing productivity, leadership, management etc. These are opinions from me which I would like to share as a means of self reflection and giving others a second opinion. I thought this would be a good way which I could type my feelings and then share the link with some colleagues whom I thought could benefit.

Hence I began trying to filter off certain posts that I have written in the past which might not have been rather objective or pleasant. I was surprised though, that from 2011 till now, I did not write any posts which I would be embarrassed of that needs to be hidden. Perhaps this is a reflection of the realities of life; once I had started working, some things become too minor to be written on the blog, and as such the things that I write are things that I hold dearly and find meaning in.

I didn’t continue filtering the older portions of my blog as they would serve as a reflection of who I was before and how much I have grown since then. I might have changed my mind on many topics that I had written, and I should be judged by who I am now, not who I was in the past. Hence for those who are reading my blog, please take that into consideration and judge me by the content I am contributing now.

I started a Facebook Page in Aug 2014 titled “Productivity at Work – PAW“.I had not been very active on it, but I had shared a few articles which I thought were meaningful. If you are interested in the topics such as productivity, leadership, management, quality management etc, please do give it a like to follow it. Currently I have a single follower but I have no idea who this person is; pathetic, I know.

So here is to a new beginning and a new direction for this blog. May I be able to build a community of people who would help to share and generate ideas for the betterment of one another.

Ask not how the prospects are, aim to have a curtain call without regrets

不问前程如何 但求落幕无悔

This quote stuck with me since I watched “The Empress of China” a few weeks ago. The title of my post is literally the translation of the quote above. I thought it was quite meaningful and it reflects the continuing theme of the drama series very well as the female lead strives to lead a life that does not defy her morals or values even when the prospects might look dim.

The quote holds real life lessons for us as well. How many of us are living our lives based on who we are? Instead most of us are worried about prospects and work to please so that our future is bright. Yet when we ask ourselves, when the curtain calls, would we have lived a life full of regrets?

That got me thinking. I am rather fortunate to be able to find a job that holds meaning for me, and I try to live my life based on what I think is right. Keeping myself to my values and trying not to lose sight of myself. Doing the things that I think matter and trying to maximise my influence so people follow.

While my job aspect has been rather pleasing, I cannot say the same for the other aspects. Indeed there were things that I wanted to do but I procrastinate, and I ended up wasting plenty of time elsewhere when I should be doing other stuff. These undone tasks would indeed be my life’s regret if I continue.

So, do what you want to do, because you only live once? But I think the chinese poetic quote sounds so much better than yolo. Just saying.

The Year Thus Far

I’m taking a little bit of time to resume writing in order to clear my mind to focus on the more important things that I should be looking at this year. Last year was a more successful year in terms of keeping to my new year’s resolutions. I realised that I failed miserably this year because I was getting distracted. Another reason was that I had neglected to write down the things that I had wanted to achieve this year. Last year, I blogged about it.

Because I wasn’t focused, the time went by quickly without me knowing and we are at the end of May already. Time and tide waits for no man, yet I chose to frivolously spent my time on things that do not matter as much. Instead, I should have focused on building my career and charting out my goals.

So here goes:

[To Resume] One book Per Month

I have read two books this year and both of them are on investments. I have started reading “The Intelligent Investor” (only a few pages), and I am also in the middle of a textbook on Reliability Modelling, which I am making slow progress. Soon it will be Jun and I need to catch up on 4 books before I become on track. However what I am doing this year is a little different. I have identified a few areas that I am weak in or need more knowledge on. This year, I am focusing on:

  1. [Book 3 and 4] Investment – Two books so far and to complete “The Intelligent Investor” and my “Technical Analysis Explained” book this year.
  2. [Book 5] Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats – I saw the book being sold in MPH/Times.
  3. [Book 6] Six Sigma – To identify a book
  4. [Book 7] Networking – To identify a book
  5. [Book 8] The Power of Forgetting – I saw this book by “Mike Bryster with Kristin Loberg” at the book stores and I thought it was interesting.
  6. [Book 9 and 10] Books for fun: (1) Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh and (2) What Should I Do with My Life by Po Bronson – Saw these books and thought they were interesting and that I should read this for the sake of reading something different.

I still have 2 spaces for other books though. I realised I have dropped “Productivity” themed books from my reading list as there are not much extra tips and tricks that I can learn. Along the way I have come up with a method I am comfortable with although it is not perfect. I have also dropped leadership books as I have yet to even master the books I learnt last year.

[To Kickstart] Small Coaching Sessions: One Way to Improve / month

I realised I wanted to spend some targeted time coaching my subordinates. Yet I have not been effective because I rarely plan what I want to say to them. As a result I have wasted precious time making small talk when I could have delivered a small coaching session which would have been beneficial.

[To Start Doing] Investment Analysis: One case study a month

I have wanted to start doing this since last year but have never moved. I need to find a way to make this a habit. This is for the future and to achieve financial freedom.

[To Write] My Own Book

I wanted to do this since the start of the year and complete this by the end of the calendar year. Yet I have not written a single word although I have started planning the content. To make this work, I need to make it a habit. To do this, I need to write something on a daily basis before writing becomes an automatic thing to me. I have about half a year left, and I need to make this work.

I kept to only four goals this year to make it manageable. These four individual goals are important to me. I have not mentioned my other goals involving my spouse to be, for that is something we will have to plan together.

I think I got more clarity after penning down my thoughts. 🙂

The Senior who wrote a book

Recently, I got to know that a senior of mine, who was in the fourth year of university when I was a freshie, actually wrote a book. At first I did not think much of it and was just impressed that he took time off to write a book. Today, he provided a link to his website, Finding Home Inside. I realised it was a blog which contained many articles which he had written. In it, he introduced his book and mentioned why he took the time to write it. Looking at the way the book was introduced, with a photo of the book itself, reminded me of internet marketing and that I wanted to write one this year. However I did not do anything to begin this effort. As I looked through his website, I realised he used crowdfunding to fund his publishing costs. I started to look forward to see his book in the book stores. What got me thinking – and writing – was that I wanted to do something similar, although not for the same reasons. I wanted to write something based on my experiences and what I learnt, to benefit people, and at the same time, try out some internet marketing as a hobby. But the thing is, he wrote a book and sold it, while I haven’t written a single word. He wrote about how he was at the lowest point in life, with only twelve dollars in his pockets, and I guess he just went ahead to do it. Compared to him, I feel small inside. Another approach he took that was similar to my style was including some books he had read. While I see that there are only two, it reminded me that I read one book per month last year, and I wanted to share what I had learnt. There were so many things I wanted to do, but I didn’t, because I procrastinated. Hopefully I would pick up the habit of writing again, with this small step of updating my blog. To dreams and beyond. Thanks to my senior who got me thinking again.

A Sudden Lunch Appointment

So today my Grand boss (my immediate boss’s boss) called me up today and asked if I wanted to go lunch with him. I was caught off guard but agreed nonetheless because its not everyday that your boss’s boss call you for lunch. I got onto his car and just went to the hawker centre.

We chatted a lot during the ride there, while having lunch and the ride back. That was the first time I spoke so much to him. I could see that he was trying to know my workload and my surroundings. We spoke about my future possible posting plans and about possible transfers between my staff. He even spoke to me about my performance and told me the areas I could improve. All of a sudden I felt slightly guilty that I raised a point as part of a group presentation during a Command Effectiveness Programme on Monday that I think the people at my level and the enciks should be mentored more. I spoke about how it is important to know how we are doing and how we can improve.

I felt an understand between my Grand boss and I when he said that he used to be like me. He asked me to be more vocal and I asked him how did he decide that he needed to change. He told me that his perspective of life changed. Although it wasn’t a concrete suggestion on the steps to take, but I understood. I had changed over the past few years as well. Experience shaped me and slowly changed me. We make small incremental changes and slowly they become a big change. He spoke about being an introvert and how we tend to think more than speak up. It felt great, like he knows how I feel.

I appreciate that he invested a lunch time session with me. No boss had done that with me on a one to one basis for lunch before. It was an enriching session and extremely beneficial for me. But beyond that, I felt that my Grand boss was one of us, and less intimidating as someone who is your boss’s boss should be.

So today I learnt how it would make people feel to have some form of conversation and frank talk. How it would make someone’s day to just invest some time in telling him how you appreciate his work and how he could improve. I had always wanted to coach and to mentor, but I did not find the time to. It cannot be an excuse that I do not have the time; I should find time. I should spend time doing the things I think are good investments. And when I leave, I would leave behind a legacy, not just another random boss who came and left.

Hence, though the lunch wasn’t good because the food was so-so and it was hard to really concentrate on the taste, I had a great lunchtime which impacted me till now and beyond. I am thankful for the session and I will provide such sessions downwards on a more regular interval and beyond just a small chat by the water cooler.

Merry Christmas: A good time to do a stock take of the year

Merry Christmas.

I realised that I haven’t written anything in this blog since August 3rd. Unfortunately I hadn’t been very disciplined to blog and I wasn’t disciplined to follow my new year goals too. In this holiday season, I tried to pick up where I left off, and am feeling a little more motivated to see things through. Nonetheless, here is a review:

[Workplace] To read one Logistic Orders daily (knowledge gaining)

I did this with gusto with a colleague for about 5 months and this just died off when we started being so busy. This is an excuse, because I could have done something about it but I didn’t. Nonetheless I did reap some benefits and this should be an effort to continue. Question is, how to make the guys do this too?

[Fitness] To run twice a week at the earliest opportunity

This was done diligently too, at first. I can’t remember when was the last time I ran, but I really need to do something about this.

[Fitness] To regain my Silver in IPPT by May 14

I achieved the goal by May 14. I would need to put in more effort given that the IPPT test was recently revised. I would need to train on push ups and sit ups as well.

[Personal Development] To read one book a month and mindmap them

This is an area which I am rather proud of, although I can’t say that all books were completed or mindmapped. After a while, certain topics found had already been learnt and hence I tend to skip certain segments of the books. Here is the list of books I had read in 2013:

  1. Jan: The First Time Manager in Asia
  2. Feb: 5 Levels of Leadership
  3. Mar: The Fine Art of Small Talk
  4. Apr: [I can’t remember the title, but it was about Neuro-linguistic Programming]
  5. May: Clarity
  6. Jun: Secrets of Productivity Ninja [Can’t recall the exact title]
  7. Jul: Start with Why + The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team
  8. Aug: 3 Minute Coaching
  9. Sep: The Power of Habits
  10. Oct: Leading Change [This was something I saw in Kino, and after reading, I realised it was recommended by HBR too]
  11. Nov: Awaken the Giant Within [I didn’t complete it. The main gist of the book is similar to the concepts in NLP]
  12. Dec: Secret to Peak Producitivty [Skimmed through as it was a entry-grade book which did not benefit me much]

Note that I read 13 books. This exceeded the 1 book a month plan. Moving on, I have also identified certain books to read in the new year. I will address that in a seperate blog post. In this year, I have also downloaded and listened to an audio book by Brian Tracy. It is titled the “21 Success Secrets of Self Made Millionaires”. While I agree that driving is a huge waste of time which could be made use through audio books, I can’t say that it is an effective means because my mind tends to drift off during the drive.

[Workplace] To do the Individual Development Action Plan with my team members (One every two weeks)

An area which I completely failed at. I didn’t find the time. Also, in the middle of the year, I read the book about the 3 minute coaching, and I tried to implement that instead.

[Investment] To research on and analyse 1 company per month. Evaluate the best price to enter into the stock market.

Another area where I did not do anything concrete on. I wanted to evaluate it more holistically, but what I did was minimal. I did make many purchases and I missed some as well. Overall I think I learnt a lot on investment through the year.

In the next few days I will review the mind maps that I have done, and also do some thinking about what I want to do with my life. Following which, I will present the new goals for 2015 and hopefully I would have a better report card in Dec 2015.

Merry Christmas all.