2015 Visual Image

2015: New Years Resolutions and The Year of Me

So around this time of year, people often make a laundry list of New Years Resolutions in multiple ares of their lives and then dutifully go about trying to achieve them. I remember being one of those people. I remember being so organised and determined with them. I remember setting up automatic, recurring, timed reminders in my personal productivity app (whether on my Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook, smartphone, or in my personal notebook).

And I also remember  that by mid-year, the New Years Resolution task list was never moving as fast as I hoped. I remember the task list feeling like a set of chores that felt ever more difficult to complete. I remember ultimately deleting some that were very specific, but mostly simply changing the year on the due date, and promising to do better next year. I figured if only I got more specific, more detailed, that would solve the issues. After all, like any person with a good foundation in project management would say, “you plan the work and then work the plan.” And yet, I wasn’t getting anywhere really. I was in this Resolution Cycle that seemed to have no end in sight.

So I decided to test something 3 years ago. I decided to delete my very detailed, very long resolution list and instead focus on a yearly theme.

The concept is that I select a theme early in the year and then I think of things that I can do to help support that theme. The things are not allowed to be short-term things for the sake of themselves (e.g. save up for a new TV), but instead have to be things that make a long-term difference. Something that if I work on it this year and turn it into a habit, will continue to reap rewards for long time to come.

I did this at first because I thought it would be easier, but as it turns out, it required more thought and energy than my original task list. But for me, the results have been more rewarding and I have felt better year after year.

In 2012 the theme was “Enjoy”, but what did that mean? For a few weeks I had to ponder over what do I enjoy doing? I came up with three things that I really enjoy doing and want to keep on doing. And then every month or so, I would take time to reflect on how that was going. For example, one of my goal was that I enjoyed spending more time with family and friends, and was beating myself up for not doing that more. So I made a decision that I would do that and in general it has been success. There has been more time with family and friends and have made for deeper and more satisfying relationships. In my old list-based way of thinking, it would have been an item in the task list to “contact your sister” and then when it was checked off, mission accomplished, but in a really superficial way.

In 2013 the theme was “Help”. This was also the year of my Corporate Service Corps assignment in Nigeria, as well as visiting Tanzania for vacation and some helpful charitable giving, and making a plan to discover how I wanted to contribute to others causes in a sustainable way in terms of both time and money. The charitable giving plan is something I use even now and will continue to do so in the future. There was also a need to help myself as I was beginning to lose something that I treasured since I was very young – the love of learning. So I enrolled in a Master’s Degree programme.

In 2014 the theme was “Experiment” – a reminder to myself to try new things and stop doing things that made me comfortable all of the time. I have made myself very uncomfortable at times during the year, but it all been about growth.

In 2015 the theme is “Me”. There have been things about myself that I have wanted to change. On the surface, I suppose it sounds a bit selfish, but actually what it is about is taking a long hard look at myself and thinking through what are some of the things I need to focus on to positive effect for myself and others. I haven’t sorted everything out here yet. It is not uncommon that I don’t settle down on the activities around my themes until around February. If I am going to understand a resolution, I want to be resolute about it – and to make it matter.

In all of these themes it is an understanding that the plans are not set. I tinker with them as I go along. Some I feel more strongly about that others and I am open to change. I try to link things together because when I do this, my resolutions becomes more than just a checklist, but more like a web of activity where the connections between serve as motivation and reinforcement.

This approach won’t work for everyone. A lot of people do perfectly fine with task-oriented lists. But if you are often feeling disappointed with this approach, then give something like this a try and see how it goes for you. You might be surprised with the results 🙂

One year down, one more to go

So today I took my last exam of the academic year, which is the first year of my Master’s Degree programme. First Year Done   It’s hard to put into words what this academic year has been like. There were moments of pure craziness, moments of “wtf”, and moments that were really awesome. I have made some great friends this academic year as well. I have also had to balance it against a new job which requires a lot of commitment and energy. It’s been hard to juggle everything, so for the next three months, I just want to decompress (even if I am not sure that I passed that last exam I took today…sigh…I can take it again in September…) When I got home from my exam this afternoon, I went for a walk, came back home, sunk comfortably into my couch, and I think I aged 9 months in a matter of minutes. I took a well-deserved nap with the kind of deep sleep I haven’t had in about 9 months 🙂 I wondered at some point today if my fundamental reasons for pursuing my degree had changed since my last post on the subject. Whether it’s climbing Kilimanjaro, getting a Masters Degree, or training for a 10k run, I never want to stop moving. There will come a time when the ability to move will no longer be there, and advanced years will increasingly dictate what I can and can’t do. But for now, I full speed ahead. I also want to be a role model for my nieces and nephews – anytime is a good time to learn and grow and try new things. I thought I would summarise the year, in terms of things I learned and what I need to remember for the second (and final) year:

  • I look forward in 2015 to changing the priorities in my life. Whilst I am studying the order of priority has been work, school, and people. Saying that doesn’t mean that I think that work and school are more important than people. Rather, I am expressing that very often this year, commitments to work and school have meant that I have less time to hang out. Random and unscheduled nights out have been kinda rare this academic year.
  • My friends and family are awesome. They have been so understanding of my situation and whenever I meet them I am really glad. It hasn’t been as often as I’d like, and I look forward to a huge graduation party to make up for it! 😀
  • My “Core Group” at school have been amazing. Natalie, Erik, and Latife, I am talking about you. They have been flexible and understanding of my calendar, we have made great use of technology, and it has been great to hang out with them and get to know them as people. I’ll really miss that we won’t be a complete gang for the Autumn term in 2014, but I have Erik to terrorise.
  • Google, you have  my undying gratitude. The ecosystem for Google has made everything easier to enable our team to work in a flexible way. It’s the best free collaboration suite (Docs, Drive, Hangouts, etc) that I know of.
  • Student discounts are great. I will miss those when they are gone.
  • Some of my best work has been done within hours of the deadline; and some of my worst work has been when I thought I knew it all and let my arrogance get in the way of learning.
  • The Black Pearl (my car) quite simple is a logistical miracle. Otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to get from work to school and back before anyone even missed me.

So what lies ahead in terms of school? Well first, I don’t have to think about school again until September! Autumn term awaits with 4 courses (and possible a re-take of a final exam) and then I move on to my Master’s thesis project for the Spring term. In the autumn expect more of the same as above – trying to find a way to make it all work. I will need to think about my courses in terms of what my interests are and what my schedule allows and find the balance point. I think there is more laughter, more tears, more redbull, more coffee, more joy, more frustration, more of everything to be had in the autumn term. And I have to say I look forward to it. Besides, it’s the beginning of my last year… …unless of course, I go for my PhD…after all, one should never stop pushing and learning 🙂

All Work and (almost) No Play Makes Rodney a Dull Guy

So now having been through 10 weeks of work and 10 weeks of school, I have learned a lot of things. Fortunately, most of those things have been nice 🙂 I will share a selection of them:


  • For the most part, I go to school with some very awesome people! All of my groups have been really supportive of the fact that I study and work full-time. So it might mean that we have to meet at times where they would prefer to be free or something like that. And in every instance they have been accommodating. I should say that two of my three groups have been amazing to work with. I have learned a lot with them and from them.
  • I don’t use my job as a reason not to do my fair share of group-based work (at least I hope I don’t). Yes, there are times when I simply can’t be in the lecture or the seminar because work has to come first. But I resolved in my mind before I started that I wouldn’t be one of those people who don’t pull their own weight in the group.
  • Sometimes I think my professors take my work schedule and plan important events to purposefully conflict 🙂 Some professors seems to get this right every time. Luckily there has always been a solution everyone can live with.
  • I underestimated the amount of effort involved when our courses start up. In Sweden, which is probably a bit different than US schools, each semester has two blocks that are about 8-10 weeks long. So it means that at two points in the semester you have intense start-up activities. Didn’t see that coming, but I am coping well…even if it requires that I take a day off of work here or there to make it possible.


  • I am still loving my new job. I am still very happy that I made the move from IBM to HP. I miss people for sure, but I don’t have any regrets.
  • My boss has been amazingly flexible and understanding about school. Generally I can manage quite well between school and work. There are some school assignments and dates that are mandatory, but I still always put in my 50+ hours to get things done.
  • There are some things that are common to all multi-national corporations, no matter where you go. That is mostly good and has helped make the transition a bit easier.
  • Did I mention I am still very happy? 🙂


So for all of this, what does it mean in practical terms.

  • I had to make a conscious choice to really scale back my social life for the next 2 years. So please, if I am not as responsive or declining invites, it’s not personally. It might be strange, but please don’t stop sending invites 🙂 They are psychological proof that somewhere out there I still have friends 🙂 Meetings for coffees or food work better than big nights out.
  • I am thankful for my car. I couldn’t make this work without one! Connected to this is the fact that I am thankful that my classes are reasonably accessible by car. Some locations are easier than others, but it helps me to make things work.
  • Coffee is my friend. It is my constant companion.
  • I have learned to enjoy my friend’s Facebook photos and stories of the weekend as if they were my own. In the last 10 weeks I have only had 1 weekend where there was no studying or work involved. Keep those pictures and stories coming! 🙂 I live vicariously through all of you these days.
  • There such a thing as 04.30 in the morning. And more important I learned that it’s a great time to catch up on e-mails and reading over a cup of coffee. Or three.
  • Shamefully, within the last 10 weeks, I have been to the McDonalds twice as much as I have been to the my gym which is one door over. I have started to change that now.
  • I’m understanding again why students cook things in large quantities. What you might give up in taste, you make up in time.
  • BBC Knowledge TV is a great way to procrastinate and kill some time in a way where you don’t feel completely bad for it because you’ve learned something in the process.


Despite all of this, I still feel I can do this. It hasn’t been an easy semester (in fact I am not even sure I passed by first two courses), nor has work been easy in any sense of the word. But I can say that I am using the knowledge and experience from both work and school to compliment each other. And combined with the great people I am meeting along the way – that makes me happy 🙂

Adventures in Education

So I find myself awake early in the morning on a Friday – the last weekend before I begin a new job as well as begin studying for my Master’s Degree in Strategic IT Management (for me this is a great blend between a MBA and a MSc). It’s a terrifying and exciting moment at the same time. In some ways, I feel like I should just relax – I have been through this before on the undergraduate level. But somehow this feels different. I have these emotions for different reasons than when I went for my undergraduate degree all those years ago.

In some ways it is terrifying because I will be holding down a full-time job as well as pursuing my degree full-time and I haven’t yet figured out how to balance those two things out. There really isn’t a distance/online element to my courses, which means that I may find myself occasionally having to be in two places at once during the day. Whilst I am fortunate enough to work for a company that believes in flex time and I know myself well enough to know that I am determined to do what it takes to be a success, I can’t help but feel like there will be times where I will have to bend the laws of time and physics to make things work. It’s terrifying to be amongst the oldest (if not the oldest) in my class. I attended my department’s orientation today and it is clear that the concerns of a 25 year old student are far different than one in their 30s. I think about whether my 14 years in the IT industry and 8 years in leadership roles will be of any benefit to me in my studies. I think about the little things – like trying to find a group that realises that I can’t just tool around campus on a Tuesday afternoon because I will likely be in the office trying to make my numbers. It’s the little things which I worry will become big things.

On the other hand, I am excited to get back into school and to complete the next phase of my education. It’s something I should have done 5 years ago, but life and circumstances get in the way.  I am fortunate enough to have a role where I will get to influence my schedule (being a Manager probably helps here a bit), making bending the laws of time and physics a bit more possible. As an older student, I bring with me the benefit of work experience and a healthy curiosity on whether my decisions in industry and leadership have been consistent with the theory that I am about to learn. And I am also curious about when it makes sense to throw the theory out of the window.

On many levels I know that this will be hard. The fundamentals of project management will have never mattered more to me than they will over the next 2 years: plan the work; work the plan. I know that sacrifices will have to be made to achieve what I want the next 2 years, but I want to try as best I can to have as good of a work-study-life balance as possible. However, I also want to prove to myself that I can do this. I want to show my nieces and nephews the importance of education by walking the walk and not just talking about it. It’s about being competitive (I’ll be the workplace for a few more decades) and getting ready for the challenges ahead.

I think I can do this. Time will tell if I am right.

Adventures in Croatia

So during my leisure time I had the pleasure of visiting Croatia, which was my first time visiting the country. Since I got a really cheap ticket with SAS (really really cheap!) to Split, I decided that this would be my base camp. When I visit a country for the first time, I tend not to stay there for more than 3-5 days (depending on distance of course) because I consider it a look-see visit. Take a look and see if in the future I would like to stay for a longer time. More often than I get a good sense of the location this way.

I am happy to say however, that I only got to experience a very small part of Croatia which means that I have to plan a longer visit next year 😀

Split is one of the many islands that can be found in Croatia, many of them quaint and beautiful. During my visit, I only got the chance to visit Hvar island for the day, but based on the great people I met in Croatia and my experiences in Hvar, I definitely want to plan 7-10 days next week and stay a couple of days on different islands.

16 Years Later: A Reunion

So one of the highlights of my trip to Split was the opportunity to see a friend whom I haven’t seen in 16 years. We first met as students who participated in a summer exchange programme in France. Hilary, who is also from Boston, quickly became one of my favourite people during the trip. One of my best memories was when we were coming back from the France and due to huge delays and other travel issues, we had about 30 minutes to get our luggage and get from one part of JFK Airport (in New York) to the other end to catch a flight. Ever committed, we managed to jump across fences at the airport on the active taxiways for planes and cars and get to our flight. In a post-9/11 world I can’t ever imagine anyone being allowed to do that. 🙂 Anyway, we made our flight from NY to Boston and we managed to keep in touch into our college years. But of course, life gets in the way and we lost touch. Thanks to Facebook we got back in touch in again and as it so happens, she was travelling through Croatia with her family and was using Split as a transfer point. So after 16 years we finally managed to have a reunion. And what was years actually only felt like weeks or months. It was a good testament to the power of technology, globalisation, and a little good fortune, to enable people to stay connected.

A reunion after 16 years. A little older, but still just as awesome
A reunion after 16 years. A little older, but still just as awesome

And Random Pics (of course)

So now for some random pictures, in no particular order.

Say cheese-y

The guards are getting into the formation for the arrival of the 'Emperor'
The guards are getting into the formation for the arrival of the ‘Emperor’

IMG_3447 IMG_3439 IMG_3425 IMG_3412 Beautiful building in Hvar IMG_3398 IMG_3396 2013-08-04 16.00.29 coastline pics coastline pictures Coastline pictures The View

Split seems to be a mix between sandy beaches and beaches with rocks. But in 37-degree heat, you enjoy the water regardless.
Split seems to be a mix between sandy beaches and beaches with rocks. But in 37-degree heat, you enjoy the water regardless.

Life as (temporary) Gentleman of Leisure

So I am well into now my second week as a Gentleman of Leisure. I have managed to get that title because at the moment I am in a cooling period between my old job and my new job at another company. And since the new company is a competitor, I have been put in a holding patters for a couple of months.

Life as a Gentleman of Leisure is not so bad…but I certainly couldn’t live like this forever.

My days could be filled with doing lots of nothing, but those who know me best know that is not really my style. So I have some small projects that I have always wanted to work on, but never got around too. So that will take up some of the time. I also have been going to the gym more which has to be good for me somehow. I have also made more time for friends and lunches and dinners. I think of it more as a long well-deserved holiday rather than a punishment of any kind. I have come to accept and understand that all of those critical meetings where if I weren’t there the perception was that the world would implode — it was gladly just a perception. The World as a structure is holding up after all.

So I have come to the conclusion that whilst I will be a Gentleman always, there isn’t much time for Leisure this summer as I set personal challenges and goals. And I am okay with that 🙂

London Pride here I come!

So this year I will be visiting the Pride Parade for London

2013-06-28 London Pride PhotoIt will be bittersweet because it will be the last time I march in the Pride Parade with IBM (now my former employer). But as always, it is great fun to participate in Pride and march in the parade. To me being visible is important. And the more of us that are visible, the easier to becomes for others to be visible.

It will also be nice to see friends again in London 🙂

I’ll be taking pics from the day to build into this blog. In the meantime everyone have fun and have a good weekend when you get that far!

Lazy Sunday

So with no more adventures to write about for the moment, it’s been a few weeks since I loaded up all of my posts about Nigeria and Tanzania. I do find myself looking at the pictures quite frequently with a feeling that it was a long time ago, when in fact it’s only been a month since I have been back in Europe.

Only a month.

It’s been a crazy month. A frustrating month. A month filled with good news from others. And a month in which my hometown (Boston) was subjected to a domestic terror attack (thankfully my family and friends were safe even though some of them could have been affected if they had made some different choices).

I have been using the time since coming back from Africa to reflect on things. Not in a depressing way, but in a way which I am challenging myself to define concepts which I had taken for granted like “important”, “sustainable”, “happy”. And I have to say that overall when I think about things, I am a relatively happy and well-adjusted person. There are changes that I want to make in the direction of my life and career, but overall, I can’t complain. Even if I don’t have everything I could ever want, I have everything I need. That’s not a bad place to start.

I’ve been trying to think of the next big adventure in my life. Both in the everyday moments and the big moments. Yes there are more mountains to climb, more cultures to immerse myself in, but I still feel like something is missing. A friend of mine suggested that since I have had the privilege to see so much of the planet, maybe the next big adventure is to see it from space. An intriguing thought, eh? 🙂

So I think I will end it here, especially since I have no pictures to show this time around. I will also have more to post about after my trips to Manchester, Barcelona, and the Moscow during May. And of course if and whenever the mood strikes me 🙂


Ciao for now.

Zanzibar Day 5: Nice and Easy

So today is my last day in Zanzibar and I have to say that I am sad to be leaving. When I first arrived I just assumed that I would be spending most of my days on the beach doing w hole lot of nothing. But as it turns out, I had a really packed vacation week with lots of see and do. And with everything that I have seen and done in Zanzibar, there are things still left to do. So for me, that means that a second visit is in order 🙂

So for my last day, I decided to slowly walk around the city and take it in one last time. I walked with no destination in mind. I only wanted to capture with my camera the beauty of a place where sands meets the sea.

IMG_3021 (Small) IMG_3036 (Small) IMG_3035 (Small) IMG_3032 (Small) IMG_3030 (Small) IMG_3023 (Small) IMG_2357 (Small) IMG_2359 (Small)

After I walked around for a hour or so and looked around for some souvenirs, I found a little place for lunch that was just about the close. It had no name, but it was a really busy place and seemed like it would be a good place. Luckily I wasn’t disappointed. It was a great lunch! There were 3 courses for $20 and more food than I could eat. Whilst eating I started talking to two women from Germany who were hanging out with this really strange guy. A European guy, he said he lived on the island permanently and owned a mansion and wanted the 3 of us to come and party with him. He also had an interesting car with 2 different coloured eyes. Although the guy was intriguing and the cat cool, my spider-sense was tingling so I said that I had to leave to go and pack. I think the German women took my cue and left shortly after me 🙂

IMG_2368 (Small) IMG_2367 (Small)

For dinner, I finally (after 2 tries) got a dinner reservation at Emerson Spice where they do a 5 course menu for $30. It quite simply was absolutely delicious! While at dinner, I got to talking with a newly married couple (an Irish guy and a Danish woman) who were also at dinner. Turns out that they were traveling around Africa for several months for their honeymoon. We ended up talking long after dinner was over and continued the conversation over drinks at the Freddy Mercury bar. We exchanged contact info which was fantastic because they are really cool and I would love to keep in touch with them the next time I find myself in Copenhagen or Amsterdam. For me, I slept for a hour after meeting them and then was woken up by the hotel to make sure my I made my 02.00 AM taxi in order to get to the airport and begin the 30 hour travel journey back to Sweden.

So overall, I have to thanks Zanzibar for an AWESOME week, which was just a bonus to the AMAZEBALLS adventure I had climbing up Mt Kili with Christina! The past 6 weeks have been such a transformative experience for me, in ways I am only now beginning to understand and with more reflection and time, will hopefully become even clearer.

Thanks awesome family and friends for following along! This won’t be the end of my blogging, that much is for sure 🙂