2008 – The Outcome

With only one week left until the official end of the year, I don’t think I’ll have much time to wrap up some of the goals I’ve set for 2008. With an early holiday already started on December 20th I don’t have my focus on achievement monitoring also. So, I guess it’s time to write about how 2008 went for me. I’ll share something with you in the very beginning of this post: I’m somehow scared. I just reviewed my goal list for this year, a list written on the last days of 2007, and I’m amazed how much I accomplished.

First and foremost, this was my best financial year ever. I know this sounds a little bit shameless in the context of a global financial crisis, but I honestly don’t care. I just had my best financial year ever, and the fact that there is also a crisis playing around outside has nothing to do with it. Or with me. Or whatever. This year I made the exit for the company I set up 10 years ago and this was a huge leap forward for me. No need to hide this. It’s not only the financial freedom involved, but much more than that. The financial freedom was only a proof for something much bigger. More on that later, let’s take it the old “step by step” style for now.

As I told you, I am amazed of how much I accomplished, but also I’m somehow scared. I know I should be happy, but I’m still scared. We often function on lower expectancies and when things are coming to us in full flavor, shaped and behaving like we expected them to be, we tend to back up. This is how I feel right now. I feel like “wow, I really did it!”. I’m sure you felt this before, you know how it is. A feeling of satisfaction mixed with a strong vibration of “I just can’t believe this”.

Well, enough with emotions let’s get factual. I won’t give you any exact numbers on my goals. I don’t think the numbers are important, but the commitments are. The list I’ve made for 2008 was made up of 3 sections:

  • personal
  • professional
  • joy

At that time I was still managing Mirabilis Media, the company I’ve created 10 years ago, so my personal and professional path were still pretty mixed.

Personal Goals

The thing that was most important for me on the personal level was my financial income. I don’t think I feel the same way now. But at that time seemed like a priority. I set up a pretty high mark on that. And I did it. Of course, the exit from my company was the key factor in that. Most of my income is now based on that exit.

The second thing was my health, at that time. I’ve set up goals for exercising more (30 minutes per day) and for eating healthier (eating raw food at least two days per week). For the exercise part, I made it for about 1 and a half month from the total of 12 months. For the eating habits, I made it for almost 5 months. But I managed to remain on a raw food eating habit and that is fantastic. Now really, it’s a breakthrough in terms of personal development, no need to hide this.

The third goals was about Bianca’s day care. We managed to have her signed up for the next year, but I think I can safely check this as done, because we did it very well. We both like that specific day care facility and we’re both happy we managed to have her signed up.

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The Trip To Switzerland – First Impressions

As I already mentioned, we planned for a longer holiday in Switzerland for this year. This trip involves also a Christmas holiday in the Alpes, near Gstaad, and some other activities, most of them related to my personal life. One of the most important is getting in touch again with my sister, who’s living here for more than 8 years now.

We got here by plane, on 20th December, flying Swiss. We’re in the full formula, meaning my wife and my daughter. We enjoyed a good and silent flight, shorter than the average period you need to cross Bucharest from one side to the other. That’s around 2 hours, by the way. We landed in Geneva and checked in to a hotel. Haven’t had any difficulties on the logistic side. We didn’t had any schedule made in advance, we adjusted things on the fly. Each afternoon or evening we are at my sister’s place, enjoying family life, and the mornings are set for some spontaneous activities.

Yesterday, for instance, we tried to do some shopping at IKEA. What should be a regular ride to a store in my country proved to be completely different in Switzerland. IKEA Switzerland is outside the city, at around 40 minutes by train, in a small city called Allaman. Getting there was funnier than we thought, we had to switch buses and trains only to got there. But it was fun.

Life Cost In Switzerland

The thing that surprised me the most was the unbelievable high price of the life in this city. I knew that Geneva was one of the most expensive cities in the world. I had a previous trip here in 2005 to the Auto Show which is held at Palexpo, so I already had some insight. But seeing this again in the light of a regular tourist, the city is simply unaffordable. Especially the transportation and the food costs are too high… I know this is one of the most important cities in the world, and setting a price barrier is one way of keeping it safer, but things are simply not justifiable. Whatever.

On the other side of the high price I must reckon that the quality of the products and services delivered is over the average. Way over the average, so I have to admit that there is some justification for the high prices, after all. Especially the food is looking and tasting much better than in other cities and the public transportation is on time and clean. Extremely clean. Taxis are unaffordable, we paid 10 EUROS for a 3 minutes fare. Clothing is ok as long as you don’t shop from the fanciest boutiques downtown.

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Posting Speed, Blog Metrics And Holidays

This my 12th post for this month. Starting with October 2008 my posting speed is part of my monthly goals. Each month I set up a certain target for the number of posts and I do my best to make it. In October I wanted to have at least 15 posts, meaning one post every other day. It went very well, and actually I ended up with 17 posts instead of 15. For November I wanted to publish at least 15 posts, but with at least 5 more. That would make a big total of 20, of course. I needed to put up a little stress to see if I can improve something in the process. It was a little bit difficult to make it, but with some effort I did exactly 20 posts. And for December the schedule is the same, 20 posts. So far, I’ve made it to the half of it, and I will do my best to keep up with the pace.

The most important ingredient in making this happening is time management. I don’t have any writer’s block, as they say, and I feel like I could write continuously for days, if nobody will stop me. But I need to isolate and allocate significant chunks of time for that. I work from home now and interruption are very likely to happen, but I try to keep them under control. It’s still kinda difficult to buy time chunks bigger than 3 hours at a time to work on. I guess I’ll have to find a solution for that: either learn how to manage smaller chunks of time, either buy bigger chunks of time. Whatever the solution, the result must be a constant posting speed.

This posting speed is not something I started in October this year. To be honest, my first challenge was in May, and it was about one post per day for 90 days. I failed miserably with only 17 posts, not even making 3 full weeks, and got ill starting with day 18. I don’t think it was a direct link between my blog challenge and my illness, but I know for sure that the blog challenge was a stress factor. It was way too high. So high that I sometimes suspect myself of not wanting to make it through, hence establishing such a difficult target.

The second challenge, in October, was way lower, one post every other day. It was sustainable and I was able to make it very easy. In fact, I even did more than that. In November I was almost to the limit and I suspect the same thing will happen in December too. 20 posts per month seems like something that I’m ready to do, but with some discipline and effort.

One may ask why I establish such goals, in the first place. Isn’t this artificially induced posting speed something that will take out the value in what I write? Isn’t it something that will suffer from lack of spontaneity? Not at all. In fact, I don’t have any problem with what I want to write, but with how I write it. This posting speed is related to the “how” portion, not the “what”. I already know what I want to write I only need to find a sustainable workflow for it. Maintaing a blog and making it work is not something trivial at all. The vast majority of people who start blogging fail at it because of the how not of the what. They all know what to do, but they don’t know how.

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7 Things About Me

Well, it seems is that time of the year. And I don’t mean Christmas, but tagging and meme games. This time is Stephen Smith from Productivity In Context, and it’s about 7 things about me. Tracking down the beginning of this meme was a little over my time but I can tell for sure that … Read more

Happy birthday, Diana!

Today is my wife’s birthday. We’re both Scorpio so our birthdays are really close. I write this without really planning – one of the things Diana taught me being to enjoy life without too much planning. But that’s not the only thing that she taught me. There are plenty of other things she taught me … Read more

The Trip To New Zealand

Today is the last day of my trip to New Zealand, my plane leaves tomorrow at noon, taking me on another 37 hours travel. It’s been one of the busiest and most exciting weeks in my life so far. There was so much information to ingest and process, and so much interaction to sustain. I can’t really claim that I processed all the information and I’m sure there will be weeks, maybe months in which this processing will continue. I think it’s a good time though to make a first round up of what I touched the most during this visit. It’s not gonna be complete, I’m sure, and it will only be a reflection of this moment, but it will help me organize my thoughts and maybe will help other people interested in living in New Zealand, or just visiting it.

Ambiance

The strongest sensation challenges when I arrived here were related to the senses of smelling, viewing and hearing. I don’t know the exact order, and I guess they must be somehow related, but the first thing you’ll notice is an unparalleled clarity of the air. It’s like the sun light is two times more powerful than anywhere else in the world – and in some respect it is, we’ll talk about later. There is a flow of light and a powerful shading contrast you will see even in the cloudiest day. That’s even more intense near the ocean, at the beaches or in the ferry, and I guess is because of the water reflections. You will have to wear sunglasses. Here more than anywhere else in the world, sunglasses are not a fancy accessory but a must have in order to protect your eyes from the unusual strong sun light. The other thing you must carry with you, especially during the summer, is the sunscreen lotion. It’s common to see people stopping on the street, taking out from their pockets or bags a sunscreen tube and rubbing their face and hands.

And this leads to the smelling area. People smell differently, but usually very nice. There are some exceptions, of course, but the main point is that the clear air makes so easy to pick up smells and most of the times those smells are nice. Everything has a smell here, and if it doesn’t, it will just smell like the ocean. Because the level of humidity is very high, the vegetation tends to be luxurious, and even the backyard grass of every house just grows almost by itself. You have to cut the backyard grass pretty often, and that makes for a steady – not very profitable, but steady – business for some people here. Along with the grass, in every part of the city – Auckland, that is – are spots filled with flowers which spread a delicate fragrance. The humidity in the atmosphere gives also some volume to the odor, and I surprised myself several times stopping in the middle of the road and just smelling the air. Maybe this sounds a little bit too enthusiastic, but believe me, there is a huge difference in this regard between Auckland and Bucharest. And on top of this, I haven’t had any moment at all the feeling of pollution in any way whatsoever, nor visually, auditory or by smell. The continuous wind that blows over the shores of those islands is acting like a non-stop cleaning agent.

And the third sensation challenged was related to the sense of hearing. All the noises have a different, usually higher, volume here. I noticed that in my first night, when the noise of the cars passing near my bead and breakfast accommodation was perceived closer than usual. I thought it was because of the flight and all, 37 hours of continuous traveling might affected my hearing somehow, but the next day we went to a reserve – a park – with a view to the ocean. At more than 500 meters from the beach there was a sailboat, and we clearly heard the noise made by the sail when it was hit by the wind. It was like the boat was 5 meters away from us. Pretty scary in the beginning, but you get used to it in a few days. Anyway, all the noises are more intense than usual, and, in combination with the stronger light and the abundance of the – usually nice – smells, this makes for a very intense sensorial experience.

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iPhone as a travel mate

Initially, this post was written during my first trip to New Zealand, September 2008. But since then I had several other long trips, including Switzerland, Thailand and Japan. Each of these trips added some value to the way I’m using my iPhone, so I felt the need to share what I’ve learned during those trips. You’ll easily find which application was used in which trip, but I guess the most important is to find some help and make your travels more enjoyable.

During my first trip to New Zealand, which is more than 20.000 km away from my country, Romania, I had the chance to use my iPhone as a travel companion. What follows is a compilation of what I tried, learned and used during that trip and the nex ones.

Maps

The first and one of the most important things about iPhone as a travel mate is the Maps application. Although I don’t have permanent internet access (I followed Apple’s advice about turning data roaming off, “to avoid substantial roaming charges…”) but I do have a decent WiFi access at my bed and breakfast facility here in Auckland. Every time I have to go to an area I don’t know yet, I open Maps and try to familiarize myself with the surroundings. I suppose that if I have data access everything would be even simpler, because I can just use the GPS facilities and find my way out in real time. But even without the GPS functionality, the Maps application is extremely useful. In the picture below you’ll see the very beach where I took the sunrise picture in the first post about the trip to New Zealand:

You can even see the tree under which I sat while I took the photo. I admit. sometimes this is spooky… But sometimes is just useful.

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Trip To New Zealand – first impressions

It’s my 3rd day in New Zealand and I finally found a little bit of time to blog about my impressions about this. First of all, this is what I call a “pulse taking” visit, in which I will try to incorporate as much information as I can about this country, while trying to understand at the emotional level how can I congruently vibrate with such an environment. The complete move, including my family and all the stuff I consider necessary to take with me will take place in 2-3 months. So I don’t have any specific goals for this visit, just trying to enjoy as much as I can.

Traveling

I had around 22 hours of flight in order to get here from Bucharest, and after adding the checkin times and other amounts of time spent in airports between flights I come up with a total of 37 hours of traveling time. Quite a lot. I had to go to Vienna first from Bucharest, from there a I took a flight to Bangkok, Thailand, and then from Bangkok I took the last flight for Auckland New Zealand. The last 2 flights were around 9 hours each. The second was with Thai Airlines, my first flight with them, and I had to say that I was pleasantly surprised about the quality of services. From the way the plane was prepared and presented, to the steward’s care for the passengers, everything was nice and easy. I even got a bunch of salads for dinner after I told to a steward that I am trying to keep a raw food diet, and I won’t eat the chicken whatsoever. Very nice 🙂 .

There is another point that is worth mentioning about the travel and that is the very strict control about biosecurity. New Zealand is making a public statement about keeping the Earth green, and especially about preserving New Zealand natural habitat, and they are respecting it. You have to declare all the food you have with you, or any other plants in any form, even woodcrafts. You also have to declare even if you had camping in the last 30 days or if you have hiking boots with you. This is making even more difficult to enter the country, once you are in the airport, not to mention the time spent to get there, of course. If you are messing around with those things they can fine you up to 100.000 New Zealand Dollars. Auch!

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