If you created New Year's resolutions, in hungover remorse for your 2009 debauchery, it's a good time to assess your rehabilitation. By examining last quarter's progress, you can make early course corrections and get on track for a successful 2010.
Take a tip from the productivity experts and host your own personal retrospective. Here's how:
- Pull out your resolutions and review. (Or at least try to remember what they were.)
- Try to reconstruct the hopes and frustrations you felt three months ago.
- Write this down: Revel in what went well in your quest for improvement.
- Regret what went badly.
- Reengage by picking one or two things you will do differently in Q2.
When you pull out your resolutions, your progress might pleasantly surprise you. Mine are captured in these goals for 2010.
The year-end period provided most of us with reflection opportunities: work gave you a day or two off, circumstances realized or refuted your anxieties, overeating and televised sports kept you glued to the couch.
Ron and I spent the 2009 year end with friends. New Year's Eve would include blowing up a Christmas Tree in their cul de sac. This well-publicized event drew about 40 neighbors with kids in tow. Immediate worries were for eye puttings-out, finger blowings-off and bail money. Less immediately, on New Year's Eve I worried whether friends loved me, what career path to pursue and how I would navigate middle age.
My immediate anxieties, thankfully, were refuted. Gasoline, fireworks and barefoot kids all combined on the edge-of-chaos to create a great event. Dangers lurked everywhere, spicing up our anticipation, but no one died, left partly-sighted or de-digitized.
On the longer-term front, it's hard to beat friends that invite you to blow things up, I realized my current career was fun, and confirmed I could cause a ruckus at any age. 2009 was over. All the dumb stuff I did was past history. I could reinvent myself, with known limitations, however I wished.
You likely did some cool things in Q1. How will you remember? Many of us keep calendars, others save mementos in file folders, and almost all of us have email sent folders. Take a peek. I bet there's some nice memories in there. Are any related to your resolutions? If they are, that's great. If your memories don't align with your resolutions, maybe the resolutions need revision.
In 2010, I want to become recognized as a competent "agile software company assessor," who can determine the relative value of agile projects and startups. To build a reputation, I said I would blog more. In Q1, I didn't quite post weekly (my goal), but did better. I said I would deepen my connections with agile leaders. I co-trained with Jeff Sutherland and Scott Downey.
In 2010, I want to gain greater harmony, both internal and external. I said I would assess my happiness daily. In Q1, I started reviewing my day every morning, handling or deferring all the email I've received overnight and deciding what to do for the rest of the day. While this seems to center and focus me for the day, it isn't quite the same as planning for happiness. Also, in Q1, Ron and I started practicing the ukulele, this "low-risk project" improves harmony as we learn and advance together.
In 2010, I want to become more deliberate about investing, both in the stock market, and in my own value. In Q1, I did start studying the market better, but it came about from something you might think unrelated.
Prompted by productivity-seeking colleague, Nick Kim, I started a policy to bring my email inboxes to zero every day. Previously, I had 350 emails in my personal inbox, and 3000 in my work inbox. This "cult of zero" policy has many positive side effects: I handle most issues immediately; I worry less, because I now maintain a single list of big projects and all the little ones are taken care of; I focus more on bigger projects, because I spend no time sorting through old email to find things to do.
One of those projects is studying the stock market. I now trade about once a week, with relative certainty. I think I may end the year higher than the S&P 500 in stock gains.
No doubt in Q2, you have some regrets: Things you wish you had done, and things you wish you hadn't. If you list these honestly, you can more easily improve.
I wish I had blogged more, particularly on issues related to project valuation. I wish I had deepened my understanding of SEO (search engine optimization). I wish I had done more evangelism on NPV valuation of short-term or partial projects.
I need to figure out how to get regular exercise, while working 350 miles away. I wish I was nurturing good friends more.
I am relatively happy with my current investing strategy, but it is highly reliant on published analysts and not substantially higher than the S&P 500. If I continue with this path, I should invest in a good mutual fund instead. I'll reassess this strategy at year end; too early to make a change.
In reviewing the quarter, pick one or two changes likely to help accelerate progress toward your goals in Q2. If you try to change too many things, it gets hard to prioritize and you might do nothing.
Clear metrics can motivate me. I will try to double Scrumerati's weekly traffic by the end of Q2: a modest gain that requires action. That should motivate me to blog more, and gain greater understanding of SEO.
Social support can motivate me. And I love challenges. I'd love to take up surfing or any other sport, with a buddy. Key issue is finding the buddy, and the time. In Q2, I will find some program that simultaneously gets me exercising and interacting with old or new friends.
I provided a 5-step framework for accelerating progress toward your 2010 resolutions: Review, Reconstruct, Revel, Regret and Reengage. Then I put my own Q1 efforts into it as an example.
You'll be more successful, if you observe and adapt in 2010. Good luck!