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Space Rockets and Agile Programmers Are Doing It…Why Aren’t You?

Space Rockets and Agile Programmers Are Doing It…Why Aren’t You?

    Are you like everyone else when it comes to setting goals? Do you define what you want to achieve and then start working towards your big goal?

    You work hard on a daily basis to reach that goal, but at some point you start to feel frustrated, because you’re not making any noticeable progress after all.

    This makes you very confused and angry, yet you can only blame yourself for this situation. You have made a classic goal-setting mistake.

    Do you know what it is?

    You know your destination…but you are still lost.

    Let me tell you about a real experience I had couple of years ago. This happened when I was competing in a national level triathlon race.

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    A triathlon consists of three different sports (swimming, cycling and running) and every race starts with the swimming part. As soon as the start signal goes off, all the contestants run into the water and start swimming.

    After myself and the rest of the contestants had swam for some time, I realized that this one guy was swimming in the wrong direction. He kept going and going, until at one point he stopped. He realized that he had swam in the wrong direction and now everyone else was in a completely different place. Naturally, he had to change his course and catch up with the rest of us.

    This kind of scenario can happen in your life, whether you are a triathlete or not. You set a goal and start taking action on it, but unfortunately this is not enough. If you don’t know your current position in relation to your goal, then you are going to be like the triathlete I just mentioned; you will keep going and going but your actions will only take you further from your destination.

    When you get further away from your goals, most likely there is one critical piece missing in your goal-setting process. Eventually, this missing piece might get you lost — and even make you quit on your goal.

    Now, you don’t want that to happen, do you?

    Space rockets and agile programmers – you can learn from them

    When a rocket is launched into space, do you think it just follows a straight line from earth to its destination in space?

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    Nope, it doesn’t.

    It makes small adjustments to its course along the way. This is how it stays on track and reaches a very specific but distant destination in space.

    It’s the same with agile programmers: they know exactly where they are in relation to their end goal (a finished application). They make necessary adjustments to their actions along the way if they find that they are on the wrong track.

    Back to you: do you know why you get lost so easily? Well, it’s because you are not adjusting your course like that space rocket, or not following procedures like those agile programmers.

    In both of the previous scenarios, adjustments are made all the time. In contrast, you just set your goal and take action on it, without stopping to correct your course. If you don’t reflect on your current progress and just keep doing your work, then the confusion is inevitable.

    Finally, you should also pay close attention to your attitude.

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    You might think that pausing to reflect is a waste of time (it’s slowing you down), even if you understand the need for it. If you think like this, you clearly need to change your attitude towards the reflection time and understand its true value. Stopping down for a moment could save your whole project. Instead of just blindly taking action, you’ll start to see where you have deviated from your goal and you’ll be able to take corrective action immediately.

    When you are on the right track, you are more motivated to keep on working towards your goal instead of quitting.

    15-minute time block to the rescue

    Let’s talk some Scrum. It belongs to a family of agile software development methodologies and one of its characteristics is a daily 15-minute time-boxed meeting called The Daily Scrum.

    Every day during the 15-minute period, the team has a meeting stood up, where everyone reports their progress by answering three questions:

    1. What have you done since the last meeting?
    2. What are you planning to finish by the next meeting?
    3. Is there anything standing in your way?

    With these questions, it’s easy to see what everyone has been up to, what’s going to happen next, and if there are any issues that might be stopping the developers’ progress.

    “Ok, so this stuff is for software developers,” I hear you say. “How does that help me?”

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    This is exactly what we are going to find out next.

    Reach your destination – by slowing down the smart way!

    Daily Scrums can be applied on your own work as well. Let’s see how to do it:

    1. Know your goal and sub-goals. It goes without saying that you should have a clear and explicitly defined goal, as well as milestones related to your end goal. If you don’t have this plan set, then do it now.
    2. Schedule and location. Schedule a 15-minute block on your calendar, which occurs every day, at the same location, at the same time. To make sure you don’t exceed the 15-minute limit, get a timer, set it to 15 minutes and start it as soon as your meeting starts. The best time for this is before the end of your working day. This way, you have some kind of idea what you have done, if you have encountered any issues and what you  want to do next. The fixed location helps you to form the Daily Scrum habit.
    3. Have your meeting. Answer the three Scrum questions I mentioned earlier and write them down in a document. Then, spend some time figuring out if you are on the right track in relation to your goals.
    4. Take action accordingly. Once you have had your Daily Scrum, form a plan for what to do next. Do you need to do something differently? What does it take to remove the obstacles in your way?

    Take a moment to think about the best answers to these questions.

    Conclusion

    As you can see, daily reflection is very important so that you can see where you are in relation to your goal. Otherwise you could be working hard for nothing. In a worst case scenario, you may have to start your work all over again.

    With a 15-minute daily meeting, you can stay on track and take corrective action right away, instead of doing it weeks or even months after starting your work.

    Over to you: how do you keep track of your current situation in relation to your goals? Do you review your work in any way? Please share your comments and experiences on the comment area.

    (Photo credit: Old Compass via Shutterstock)

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    Timo Kiander

    Productivity Author and Founder of Productive Superdad

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    Last Updated on July 16, 2020

    How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

    How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

    As well as being the founder of Lifehack, I also help people on a one-to-one basis through life coaching.

    I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and have helped hundreds of clients reevaluate their lives and turn inertia into progress and failure into success.

    A common theme I’ve noticed with many of my clients is that they don’t have any definite goals to aim towards.

    This has always surprised me, as goal setting is frequently recommended by self-improvement gurus, performance coaches, and business leaders. It’s also something that I learned at university and have implemented successfully in my life ever since.

    If you’re similar to the majority of my life coaching clients and you don’t have any definite goals to aim for, then you’re missing out on what is probably the most powerful personal success technique on the planet.

    The good news is—you’ve come to the right place for help with this.

    In this article, I’ll explain exactly what goal-setting is and how you can put it into action in your life. As you’ll discover, it’s a key that can open many doors for you.

    An Introduction to Goal Setting

    Goals can be big, small, short-term, long-term, essential, or desirable. But they all share one thing: They will give you something to aim for.

    This is important. As just like a ship without a destination, if you have no goals, you’ll end drifting aimlessly.

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    Goals give you purpose. They also give you drive and enthusiasm. In other words—they make you feel alive!

    If you’ve never spent time setting goals before, then here’s what I recommend you to do:

    1. Take some time to evaluate all areas of your life (health, career, family, etc.).
    2. Determine which of these areas need a boost.
    3. Think of ways in which to achieve this (for example, if you want to boost your health, you could eat less and exercise more).
    4. Set some definite goals that you would like to achieve.
    5. Write down these goals, including the date you want to accomplish them by.

    Now, before you get started on the above, I want to make one thing clear: Goals are not wishful thinking!

    By this, I mean that while your goals should be ambitious, they shouldn’t be unrealistic or verging into fantasy land.

    For example, wanting to be promoted at work would be a realistic goal while wanting to be President of the United States might not be. (Of course, feel free to prove me wrong!)

    If you’re new to the world of goal setting, then I’d recommend you start with easy-to-achieve goals. These could be things such as eating a healthy breakfast, walking more, taking regular breaks from your screen, and sleeping early.

    These simple goals might take you a month or so to achieve, including making the daily practices a habit.

    Once you’ve successfully accomplished these goals, you’ll find your self-confidence grows, and you’ll be ready to set yourself some bigger goals.

    Here are a few examples that you might want to choose or adapt to your personal circumstances:

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    • Run a marathon
    • Buy a new car
    • Learn a new language
    • Travel around the world
    • Change career
    • Retire early
    • Write a book

    I’m sure you can think of many more things that you would like to achieve. As the famous Shakespeare line neatly states: “The world is your oyster!”

    Now, the trick with big goals (as I’ll show in an example shortly) is to break them down into small, bite-sized chunks. This means you’ll have a big end goal, with smaller goals (sometimes referred to as objectives) helping you to gradually achieve your main aim.

    When you do this, you’ll make big goals more achievable. Plus, you’ll have an easy way to track how far along the road to your goal you are at any given point in time.

    Let’s see this in action…

    Going from an Idea to a Global Success

    Everything starts with an idea.

    And there appears to be no shortage of good ideas in the world. But there is a shortage of people willing to put these ideas into action!

    This is the essential step that will move you from being a dreamer to an achiever.

    Back in 2005, when I first had the idea for Lifehack, I really only considered it to be a platform to record some of my productivity and self-improvement techniques. I’d developed these during my time at university and as a Software Engineer at Redhat.

    However, based on the number of views and positive feedback I received on the first few articles, I quickly realized that Lifehack had the potential to be a popular and successful website—a site that could help transform the lives of people from all across the world.

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    It was at that point that I decided to set some goals in place for Lifehack.

    The way I did this was to set specific targets for different areas of the business:

    1. Number of articles published
    2. Amount of time spent writing and promoting the articles
    3. Number of new readers
    4. Number of new email subscribers
    5. Revenue generated from ads

    For each of the above, I set weekly, monthly, and yearly targets. These targets were realistic but were also ambitious. In addition, I wrote down the necessary steps to take to achieve each target within the specified time frame.

    This goal setting had a powerful impact on my motivation and energy levels. Because I could clearly see what needed to be done to achieve each goal, I found a purpose to my tasks that made them exciting to complete. Each small target achieved took me closer to accomplishing the bigger goals.

    For example, my initial goals for writing articles were for just five a week, which equated to 20 per month and just over 100 per year. However, as I dedicated more and more time to Lifehack, I found I was able to exceed my initial goals.

    This led me to increase the numbers. Of course, there’s a limit to how many articles one person can write. So when the readership began to exponentially increase, I started to hire other writers to help me out with the site’s content.

    From my initial goal of just over 100 articles per year, I’ve used goal setting to help Lifehack publish more than 35,000 articles to date. This is now the largest collection of original self-development articles in the world.

    And in terms of readership—this has skyrocketed from a few dozen in 2005 to several million in 2020.

    And of course, I have many new goals for Lifehack, including expanding our range of online courses.

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    My original goal has always remained the same though: To change people’s lives for the better.

    Goal Setting Can Transform Your Life

    If you haven’t yet experienced the incredible power of goal setting, then now’s the time to get started.

    Build a definite picture of what you want to accomplish, break it down into small, achievable steps, and then start taking action!

    You’ll be able to change all areas of your life using this method, including boosting your health, improving your relationships, and transforming your career. You may also want to use goal setting to start a new hobby or plot a path to a prosperous and peaceful retirement.

    So please don’t wait for success to drop in your lap (which it is highly unlikely to do). Instead, decide on exactly what you want, then make a plan to get it. This is the secret to lifelong success.

    Legendary motivational speaker and author Paul J. Meyer said it well:

    “Goal setting is the most important aspect of all improvement and personal development plans. It is the key to all fulfillment and achievement.”

    Final Thoughts

    Now, let me leave you with five questions that will help you think about your future:

    1. What would you like to be doing in 3, 5, and 7 years?
    2. What things make you happiest?
    3. How can you share your knowledge and experience?
    4. Who can help you achieve your goals?
    5. What would you like to be your legacy?

    Take plenty of time to think about these questions. When the answers come, you’ll be able to start building a picture of how you’d like your life to be—and what goals you need to set to make this picture a reality.

    More Tips on Setting Goals

    Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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