New year’s (re)solution

Happy New Year! (+one month)

I wanted to make a fresh start with the new year. I wrote down my do and don’t lists, my wishes, my goals. I investigated why I couldn’t achieve some of them last year. I tried to find the source of all evil – well sort of. 🙂

I realized there are two vital characteristics one should have to achieve goals; these are passion and self discipline. Passion couples with love. If you love what you are doing, you become passionate. You get enthusiastic, engaged, you feel alive. Passion is simple; you either have it or not.

Self discipline is tricky. You may love what your doing, you can be very passionate and at the same time you can have 10+ other interests, activities, thoughts to spend your time on. You prioritize, but you are still left with less time than needed. Why? You didn’t pay attention; to time passing, to procrastination, to distractions. I find self discipline crucial for this year’s goals.

In order to go fast, you have to go slow they say. Similarly, in order to achieve big goals, you have to start with small ones. And in order to really become self-disciplined, you have to start with small tasks.

At the beginning of January, I put myself on trial with 4 practical goals:

  1. Wake up early.
  2. Stick with exercise.
  3. Be coffee-free.
  4. Be chocolate-free.

All 4 of them have been a real pain last year. 1. I’m a night person, I work better when it’s quiet, everybody’s sleeping and sun does not invite me to go out and enjoy its beauty. 2. I like exercising but I can easily skip it for the sake of an algorithm bug or a friend’s invitation. 3. Coffee functioned as my drug, without it till lunch would cost me a wonderful headache for the rest of the day. 4. And chocolate… self-explanatory.

In 4 weeks, I passed through all possible faces; from being motivated to (thinking of) buying a 10 Kg Nutella & eating it at 2:00AM. Here are my results per week (S: success,  C: challenge):

  1. Wake up early.           SSCC
  2. Stick with exercise.    SSSC
  3. Be coffee-free.           SSSS
  4. Be chocolate-free.     S –  epic fail

How did I make it? Was it just a decision? Yes and No. I found correlations to these rules, and ways to trigger them.

1. If I wake up strictly the same time every day, I will then sleep earlier, and in the long run I will have more energy and need less coffee. However, I like working at night and by doing so I fight my own self. Update to follow.

2. I admitted that I will always choose to skip gym for having more time to find a code bug, or to attend a meetup, or to meet a friend. So, I realized; I must go in the morning. It’s my only chance to make this work. And it worked (after recovering from the shock of jogging at 7:00AM, I got to appreciate this decision during the day).

3. With coffee, it was straight-forward. I had a headache for 3-4 days, and boom. Freedom. I drink coffee when I haven’t slept enough, and no more than 2 consecutive days (the 3rd day I get an urge to have a coffee).

4. Chocolate. What a challenge! I tried to apply the Chocolate Sunday plan proposed by a good friend, which says; you avoid chocolate for a week and you eat as much you like on Sunday. First week was great, but after having some chocolate on Sunday, it became really hard to resist the next day, and the next, and the next..

I feel like I’m converting myself into a startup, executing the cycle: build-test-learn. I had some hypothesis. I built my rules. I tested them for a month and I’m learning out of it. First month is over. The first test gave me insights to what I want and how I act. I am keeping the goals, and I am making some changes to see my behavior. In a month, I will evaluate me again.

I urge you to do the same. Go evaluate your ‘year’s resolution’ and change your model, improve. And try again. Here’s your second chance; February.

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2 thoughts on “New year’s (re)solution

  1. I find it helps to track *everything*. Weight loss, calories, working… etc. The more you track the more it becomes normal to track it and the best part is that you start getting analytics on what you’re doing.

    I took a very similar approach to you at the start of the year but tried to figure out ways to box out my time. Most of my problems stem from just working *too much* and needing to take a break at the end of the day unless some work deadline forces you otherwise. Tracking your daily tasks and actions has the benefit of seeing how much time it *actually* takes you to complete something. I am famous for saying ‘ya that’ll take 4 minutes to code.’ but it takes 20-30 minutes of actual time. Figuring out those realistic time frames allows you to box out your time better and better understand what the next task will take to complete, and allowing you to actually plan your day out versus just blindly estimating.

    This leads back to an almost big data approach to your life, and it helps you start to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I started tracking my calories and found it interesting that I started making more rational decisions about food when 1) I had to write it down. 2) I saw exactly what I was eating!!

    I also took this approach back to my team at work: Plan, Sprint and Reflect. Using this approach has helped me gain better insights into how my team mates work but also has, in the last 6 weeks, allowed us to deliver more than we did in the prior 5 months, and at a higher quality!

    But I could never give up Chocolate, Coffee I never started on in the first place ;).
    -Alex

    Reply
  2. Pingback: (Re)solution #2 – Surprising life | In a distributed manner... or not!

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