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My Current Self-Audit Review

So I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting and auditing of who I am and what I want to do with my life.

As I reflect, I realized one of the easiest things to do is to identify where I’m spending my time. I’m not necessarily speaking to how I’m spending minutes of the day but instead to the commitments I have in this season of my life.

After work, and of course my family, my next largest time commitment today is to the two recreational soccer teams I coach. The season began for the players in mid-August but the coaching commitment began in mid-July with a coaches meeting. The season will end in mid-November with either an end of the season party or the final game of the season, whichever is scheduled last. That is a stretch of 4 months with 3 solid months of my day being work, soccer, and whatever else I can squeeze in.

In terms of hours per week, I’m devoting about 2 hours per practice with prep and actual practice time. At the moment each team has two nights a week of practice so for me that means right now my Monday through Thursday evenings are occupied. On 4 out of the 5 of the Friday evenings I’ve had equipment duty so just about an hour was required to drive to the pick-up location, collect the equipment, and then home. That is in addition to the coaches clinic I opted to participate in to help improve my coaching skills; another 2 hours for 4 straight Fridays.

My Saturday mornings are pure soccer. Collectively with arriving to the fields early, setting up field equipment, preparing line-ups and game cards, and pre-game and game coaching there is at least 4-5 hours of time spent between the two teams.

In addition to my soccer commitments, I am also serving as the Roseville Pony Registrar. My “busy time” is ramping up and will continue through opening ceremonies in February. As the registration period progresses my nights will require dedicated time spent to answering questions and assisting families with registering for the Spring 2017 season.

So back to the self-audit, I think to myself and question what it is that I want to really do in life. I can’t help but realize that part of the answer involves coaching/teaching. As I allow myself to dream I wonder if there is still a chance to make a career somehow around youth sports… and since soccer is the sport I’ve always been a part of since early childhood maybe it can provide me way to marry a career in coaching, leadership, and maybe even social media.

These are my thoughts as of the past few weeks. I definitely enjoy coaching the boys on my teams. I may come home frustrated at times and question how well I’m doing as a soccer trainer and coach but I return to each practice and game with renewed optimism.

I’ve especially thought about trying to figure out how to have a side hustle similar to the trainer providing the coaches clinics. I haven’t spoken with him one-on-one but from he’s said he’s just a dad that coached his daughter’s team years ago and wanted to get better. Now he’s providing coaches clinics, I assume he charges a fee to the leagues, and he also continues to receive training (he just returned from England where he attended a training). I’d have no complaints incorporating some travel as well!

So I’m hoping to manifest my destiny or at least share with the world a bit of a possible direction I’d like to go.

I’ll always love technology helping provide solutions in the world of software but maybe there will be that time where I move away from a desk and spend more time “hands on” coaching, interacting, and serving others in a different capacity.

The Answer to “Where Has the Time Gone?”

So if you are like me you’ve seen it many times before, you probably saw it today, and will most likely see it tomorrow.

On any given day as you scroll through your Facebook newsfeed you’ll see that photo of the child or grandchild’s birthday, the anniversary photo, or the special occasion that was celebrated years ago. I love that part. I enjoy learning about my friends and family through their photos. The photos are obviously important to them so I take a few moments to look, read, and learn from the memories they shared. I celebrate from afar and hope that they are enjoying the memories as they recall the good times.

Yet, more often than not I also find myself cringing anytime I read that all too familiar caption of “Where has the time gone?”. I know, it may sound a bit harsh to dislike a caption of someone’s memories but it is the truth. In fact, I think there are many sayings, phrases, statements, and questions we overuse or simply use because we don’t take the time to really think of anything else to say. Or better yet, I don’t think most of us really think about the answer to such a question.

So for the question, “Where has the time gone?” I ask you, where does your time go?

I don’t think our parents, at least not mine, or my grandparents would have been able to truly answer that question in detail. Sure, they could have broken down their life in decades or seasons of life like I did in my previous three posts. But, they could have never told you how many hours they spent in front of a TV, or in the car, or in a classroom, or how many miles they drove in any give month. The only way they could have done any of that was if they were meticulous record keepers. I don’t know about your parents or grandparents but I know none of mine were. And the truth is most of us today are no better.

What we do have today are all of our internet connected devices that help us keep those metrics. That includes everything from the smartphone in your pocket, to the step tracker & heart rate monitor on your wrist, to the small device you have plugged into your car to track mileage and the engine health of your vehicle.

Wait, what? You don’t have all of those smart gadgets? You will. If, today, all you have is a smartphone then you are light years ahead of anything your parents had. But how are those gadgets telling us where the time has gone? Well if you haven’t used any of the native applications that use the data collected from those gadgets then here is one I use that helps aggregate all that data providing me a much better answer to the question, “where does all my time go?”

But first, a little background. A couple of years ago I followed a blogger that shared how he kept his own data analytics that he shared on his website. Since this blogger, Jamie Todd Rubin, is also skilled in software code he created his own open analytics page. As I read about Jamie’s page I somehow found and started to follow Anand Sharma who also shared his daily analytics but at a whole different level. His beautiful site at aprilzero.com really had me drooling to be able to do the same. Unfortunately, for me, I can’t write a piece of code if my life depended on it. Things changed when Anand started developing Gyrosco.pe which offers similar functionality as his personal site. I started to follow Anand on Twitter and soon I found myself as a beta user and then eventually as a Pro user. Today I enjoy the online dashboard, the iOS app, and most recently the Chrome extension that all present in various ways where my time goes. The site of course also displays my sleep patterns, the miles I drive, my heartbeat, and much more.

So, where does my time go? For now, I’ll share a quick screenshot of how things break down and then in the future I’ll provide a more detailed overview of the Gyrosco.pe dashboard and app.

Gyroscope Dashboard

At a quick glance you can see that in September I drove 69 hours, walked 11 hours, spent about 137 hours at the two office buildings, and that’s just the beginning. With the help of a little bit of technology, it is easy to see “where the time goes”. And that doesn’t even include the breakdown of the activities at work, or home. All of which is also being captured so I can continue to audit myself and really figure out where my time goes.

So? Do you know “where your time goes?”

Where I Want To Go

In my Where I Am Today post I gave an insight to the last 16 years and how my life has changed in that time.

Today, and every day, I think about the future and what I struggle with today in getting where I want to go. And there within lies part of the problem. I’m not sure where I want to go. Do I want to be an entrepreneur or am I just smitten by what I see others share online?

Do I want to return to the private sector and work in an environment that applauds and rewards the extra effort and where extra effort may benefit my family financially?

Or do I just want to continue down the path of the current comfort zone and stay in a “safe” job that offers benefits with a routine of working 8 hours, going home, and returning to work the next day for 8 more hours?

I think about this constantly. I have not had that epiphany I’ve heard that Gary Vaynerchuck had in 4th Grade or Dean Karnazes had at 30 years old. I’m still waiting to learn what it is that I should be doing during these most productive work years of my life.

One thing I know is true is that I continue to show up to my current job and I do what I believe I should be doing today; providing the best customer service I can provide in the role I fill with the resources I have available to me. And I receive praise and thanks for my efforts but in the public sector a time comes when you need to decide if you are satisfied with the position, salary, and benefits that you currently receive. Unlike the private sector, public sector jobs have a cap on pay, benefits, and paid time off and no matter how much extra effort you give you will always receive the same compensation. So, is that what I want?

There was a time at my first consulting firm the consultants were offered an opportunity to increase one’s pay by billing additional hours past a baseline goal of billed monthly hours. I used to get frustrated at the amount of effort it would take to get just 10 extra hours of billable time. In hindsight, I wish that kind of incentive was an option to me today. I think I would have worked harder to bill those extra 10, 20, 30 hours to boost my then income. I definitely missed out on earning potential.

And even though I haven’t honed in on a clear direction I do see myself working less in the day to day helpdesk role I have at work today and more in a creative environment. One that allows me to produce content or provide solutions. I also envision a work environment that doesn’t restrict me geographically. I would really love to be part of a team that recognizes the capabilities of today’s technology; affording team members the ability to work anywhere. I also envision being in an environment where I can mentor those that are looking to learn from my experiences and surround myself with more individuals that have experience that I can learn from. Of course, finding a job or work life situation that allows me to continue coaching and being active in youth sports is also very important to me. I’m not ready to hang up my coach’s hat anytime soon and in fact, could see that being more of a focus in my life.

To say I’ve struggled with identifying what it is I “want to do with my life” is an understatement. I know I’m here for a reason but I haven’t yet figured out what that reason, at least professionally, is.

For now, I’m going to bed yet again contemplating on what it is that I can offer the world that will be of value to others.

 

Where I Am Today

This is the second part of the three-part series I started  describing Where I Came From, Where I Am Today, and Where I Want to Go.

Sixteen years ago I left North Carolina, my home for about 19 years, and decided to move to California. There are many reasons why I made that decision but at the top was a want to live near my grandparents and extended family while there was still time for me to do so.

Soon after I moved to NorCal two things happened that changed my life. I met my wife and I entered the professional world.

I met Jennifer in October of 2000 and by January of 2001 we were a couple. Four years later we were engaged and in 2005 we married. My life as a husband, and eventually a father of two boys, began.

Professionally, I was lucky to have an aunt that put me in contact with my first employer. I was very green but I realized as I looked for work I wanted to be part of the dot-com world. I didn’t exactly get that wish but my career in IT did begin in September 2000. For nine plus years I worked at the same small business as a document management consultant. Although I had a couple of coworkers that mentored me and shared their IT knowledge the vast majority of my IT skills were self-taught. I did go to specific product trainings but my general IT knowledge was all on the job training. At times I’m amazed I’ve managed to continue a career in this field with no formal certificates or degrees but then again there are many that have gone down the same path.

In 2006 Jennifer and I had our first son and in 2009 our second was born. I was a happy daddy multiplied by two. I always knew I wanted to be a husband and a dad and those dreams finally came true… and soon Jennifer and I will be celebrating 11 years of marriage.

My professional career hit a bump in April of 2010 when I was laid off as the consulting firm slowly closed it’s doors. I remember vividly getting called into my boss’ office and later that day going home to Jennifer to let her know the news. Frustration was among one of the emotions I felt that day, and I’m sure I’ll write one day to explain more, but over time I realized that I was finally free of a job that I had never left out of fear. Although I was appreciative of the job and my employer for letting me enter the door nearly 10 years earlier I probably should have left to seek out new opportunities much sooner. In hindsight, I’m grateful that I was pushed out of my comfort zone.

By August 2010 I found myself commuting to Vacaville, CA to one of my former clients. For the next two years I was able to continue bringing in a steady paycheck thanks to a few individuals that helped put me in a new consulting position. Although I was employed by a Sacramento based network consulting firm, Shandam Consulting, I continued to spend the majority of my time at the Vacaville client.

In time I was able to apply for a position that opened at Solano Irrigation District, the client I had been working for, in September of 2012. I am now approaching my 4th year anniversary as a full-time employee.

In the six years of serving SID my IT knowledge has climbed. I transitioned from a very help desk only orientated role to yet again being a consultant; albeit a consultant on the SID payroll. I now fill the roles of help desk support, document management subject matter expert, and chair of a customer service committee, among others. But if I had to describe my job today it is less IT Administrator as my title states and more business systems analyst as I work with the various user groups and assist with software implementations, integrations, and deployments. Regardless of the role, what I am doing more and more is advising and consulting with many of the software and online media related projects. And although the hats I wear are constantly changing the one constant is that I’m continuously serving others. That is my job. To help my coworkers be successful with their work by making sure they have the IT resources to do so.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize that I’m part of a two-person full-time IT team at the District that continues to receive support from Shandam Consulting.

Outside of work and home I’ve managed to be part of the core of a men’s soccer team that has played together for nearly 9 years straight. As a dad, I’ve also enjoyed coaching youth soccer for the past two years giving me a chance to develop as a coach and mentor. And most recently I joined the Roseville Pony Baseball league as Director of Registrar. After seeing how positive of an experience my boys had their first year with the league I decided I would do what I could do to give back and serve on the board.

So today, in 2016, I am a husband, dad, and all-around family man. I am also a youth sports advocate serving as a board member of one league and a coach (x2) in another. And while I fill all those roles I am also seeking out who I really want to be and using this blog and social media to help with that discovery process.

I’ll share a little more of my personal goals and what I want to see in my future in my final post of this series.

I’m also interested in learning more about my community. How did you get to where you are today? What were the major milestones that shaped who you are?

The Four Podcasts I Listen To Every Week

A couple of weeks ago I met a friend for breakfast. She’s a former professor of mine that moved to California a few years after I did. She is currently teaching at a university in the bay area so we meet for breakfast when our schedules allow. I consider her to be a friend as well as a former professor, mentor, and accountability partner.

When we get together we usually start off by catching each other up on our lives and latest personal news. Eventually we’ll discuss our personal and professional goals and aspirations and share with each other the latest books that we’ve read. I tend to read non-fiction business, leadership, or productivity books while she reads more spiritual and motivational books. We learn from each other and suggest various authors and titles that we’re excited to share.

During one of our recent breakfasts, I mentioned to my friend that in between my monthly Audible.com books (I pay for the book a month subscription) that I listen to podcasts. I did so assuming that listening to podcasts is a common practice. I was wrong.

Before breakfast ended I took possession of my friend’s phone and set her up with her first podcast subscription. I used the free Podcasts app (on my phone I use Downcast to manage and listen to my podcast subscriptions). I currently have four podcasts that I’m subscribed to, this number has changed over time, but the podcast I added to her phone was Michael Hyatt’s This Is Your Life.

Podcast subscriptions

My four podcast subscriptions include Michael Hyatt’s as well as EntreLeadership, The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes, and Chalene Johnson’s Build Your Tribe. I’ve been listening to Michael Hyatt’s and EntreLeadership since their beginning. Lewis Howes and Chalene Johnson are new additions as of this year. Michael Hyatt’s and EntreLeadership are by far my favorite of all the podcasts I’ve listened to over the years and they have never been removed from my subscription list.

I’m a big fan of Michael Hyatt and consider him to be one of my virtual mentors. He is a man of faith that speaks highly of his wife and daughters and he’s also been a CEO of a publishing company and is now an extremely influential blogger and author. I dream to emulate his business practices and work/life choices.

So on the morning I drove to meet my friend for breakfast, I had listened to Michael’s podcast episode on How to Finally Achieve Your Dream. As my friend and I usually talk about our professional and lifestyle dreams I found it humorously ironic that this would be the topic of the podcast I listened on the drive to meet with her. It happened for a reason and so I knew immediately that I had to share it with my her… even if that meant having to explain the process of subscribing, downloading, and listening to podcasts.

I’m hoping that by showing my friend how to subscribe to a podcast she can instantly listen to hours and hours of free, quality content. I still find that most of my family and friends don’t listen to podcasts as much as I do, if at all. I’m hoping that over time I can help change that. For now, I think I may have convinced at least one of my friends.

 

How Did Ask Get Installed On My PC?

I’m not a mechanic so I don’t get asked to fix cars. I’m not a plumber so I don’t get called to help with leaky faucets. I am an IT professional so of course the questions I do get asked range on a variety of topics from mobile devices, to computer recommendations to that reoccurring request… “Can you fix my computer?”.

One of the questions I get asked frequently is “How did Ask (a.k.a. Ask.com) become my search provider?” or “How did I get the Ask toolbar on my internet browser?”.  The question has come up enough that I thought I’d share my answer here so that in the future I can share this post and hopefully save myself some time from repeating myself.

So…

Dear family member, friend, casual acquaintance that asked me about Ask or any other search engine that over took your default search engine (i.e. Google or Bing):

The answer to the question, “How Did Ask Get Installed On My PC?”. Well silly, you installed it. That’s how.

Let me show you how…

There are many legitimate utilities and services that may include secondary installs. In the example I’m going to use the legitimate utility is Java. Java is a programming language and the Java application allows your PC to run other applications that are written in Java. What you my friend have yet to notice is that when you installed or updated Java you also installed Ask. The Java install utility even showed you a screen asking if you wanted to install Ask. What most people do is skip the fine print and click on the next button. Had they unchecked the check boxes in the screen below they would proceed with the Java install skipping the Ask Toolbar installation.

Java prompting for Ask Toolbar to be installed

Don’t worry friend. I’m guilty of it too and luckily with Ask you can go to either Add/Remove Programs or Uninstall Programs depending on your version of Windows and uninstall Ask leaving Java installed on your PC.

What do I recommend to you in the future? Be vigilant while you install or update those utilities that are running on your PC. Luckily Ask won’t do much harm but the process described above is one sure fire way to install malware and that my friend is not as easy to uninstall nor as easy to deal with.

So what have you installed on your PC that you didn’t know you were installing?

Welcome!

Today is my 39th birthday and I promised myself weeks if not months ago that I would launch my new blog today. This first post is the beginning.

I’m not sure what I’m starting or embarking just yet but I know that I have  a lot to share and that with enough persistence this blog will morph and so will I.

I’m ready. I hope you’ll join me along the way.