Personal Continuous Improvement vs New Year’s Resolutions

Being the new year, there is much talk about new year resolutions and people wanting to change certain aspects of their life in a little need of TLC. This of course is embodied by the all hallowed New Year’s Resolution. I never really paid much attention to this cultural norm.

Until this year. I started wondering why on Earth people would leave self-improvement until an arbitrarily defined time in the calendar we happen use to track the passing of time.

I work in the IT industry, specifically software development and technical consultancy at present. My current workplace uses Agile software development for all of our software development, which means we build and improve products iteratively. Being Agile means always being on the lookout for improvements and reacting to change in the environment. You also develop in such a way that you build incrementally, rather than building in one big block, later discovering something is wrong and then having to start from scratch to fix it. Agile is much more, dear I say, Agile than old ways of developing products, services and processes.

Thinking about self-improvement at a time talk about New Year’s Resolutions has reached fever pitch, I became inspired by Agile. If something changes in an Agile environment, you can immediately change and adapt to that change. Based on that fact, I think we should definitely be aiming to improve year round in our own personal lives. This would allow us to:

  • Adapt to changes in our life in terms of what we want to improve,
  • Break the changes down into smaller parts to make it more achievable,
  • Fix something straight away if something in our plan for success fails,
  • Make changes anytime of the year as our situation changes.

Committing to a New Year’s Resolution means we are making a big upfront investment that most people won’t achieve because the goal is too large to achieve without breaking it down and adapting. Implementing an Agile mindset to self-improvement means we can achieve our goals without depending on waiting until the start of the next year or face the fact that our goals may be too large without breaking it down and adapting if our first attempts don’t work.

In the words of well-known journalism academic Jeff Jarvis, “Life is a beta”, so get out there and start trying to continuously improve your life with an Agile mindset!

One thought on “Personal Continuous Improvement vs New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Totally agree Trent! I try to use agile in my everyday life – although I do think that the cardwall for moving house may have been taking it a little too far. I still like to set goals though – I find that the new year is a good opportunity to reflect on what you have achieved (for people like me its pretty much the only time all year that I actually slow down and relax) – and then make a conscious decision to keep doing the things I liked, and try to work on some of the things I wasn’t so fond of. Agreed that it does need to be baby steps though – trying to completely change your life as of the 1st is not likely to end in anything other than a dismal sense of failure =)

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