Write Down Your Goals

Newbury Street had a friend in me on Saturday, ’cause man did I shop the hell out of it.

On a fact-finding mission for prices on snazzy shoes and blazers / sport coats (what’s the difference?), I’d briefly chat up the retail folk and then break their little hearts; I am not currently at a place where I can spend $400 to $600 on a jacket. I had always wanted to roll through the Back Bay with my homie named Visa, but you need almost a full day and the energy and… a reason. I had all three.

The reason came from writing goals down. This creates focus.

You may have lots of reasons to do things, but the ones you write down, and especially the ones you look at with some frequency, are the ones that get to the forefront of your unconscious. Napoleon Hill dedicates a whole chapter to the concept in ‘Think And Grow Rich’, where he says the subconscious mind first acts on dominating thoughts and feelings (like faith), so make your desires clear: reduce them to writing. He goes on to talk about the next step: flashes / hunches / inspirations. Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’ refers to these as inspired actions, where you are acting on instincts.

I could have (should have) dove into much delayed Spring cleaning, but instead I went with my gut and did something unusual, yet something in line with one of my goals: acquire a collection of jackets.

Mission accomplished. Thank you, Marshall’s. On Boylston Street.

Death and The Night

So… how about this: let’s die well.

When we die, let’s do that whole death thing with a sense of peace, however & whenever that ends up happening. It’s gonna happen, and when it does, when you’re right up against that point, there’s stuff that’ll go through your head. What do you want to be thinking? As I’ve shared a week ago, I like the idea of lying on my death bed and knowing I’ve given my greatest gift.

Besides living each day as if it were your last, or as if you’re already dead, to get the most out of life… death seems pretty far away. So is that feeling of impending end as a motivator for giving your greatest gift. So let’s scale down both the severity of death and how far it is in the future – let’s call this the night. Let’s re-do the previous paragraph, replacing ‘death’ with ‘sleep’.

When we sleep, let’s do that whole sleep thing with a sense of peace, however & whenever that ends up happening. It’s gonna happen, and when it does, when you’re up against that point, there’s stuff that’ll go through your head. What do you want to be thinking? As I’ve shared a week ago, I like the idea of lying on my sleep bed and knowing I’ve given my greatest gift.

Now, Steve Pavlina on his blog has a great post that covers one way to simulate the death bed scene, except with way less drama, ’cause I’m in my Stewie-from-Family-Guy PJ’s. The following, lifted from his article on The Power of Clarity, is what I keep in mind as I go about my day. Give it a shot.

I was once told by someone that I should end each day by crossing it off my calendar and saying out loud, “There goes another day of my life, never to return again.” Try this for yourself, and notice how much it sharpens your focus. When you end a day with the feeling that you would have lived it the same if you had the chance to repeat it, you gain a sense of gratitude that helps you focus on what’s really important to you. When you end the day with a feeling of regret or loss, you gain the awareness to try a different approach the next day.

One Daily Thing

My Scrums (daily stand-up meetings) now incorporate this little question from ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, highlighting a couple of Scrum principles:

If this is the one thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?

On the outset, I know I am pretty ambitious about what I plan on doing per day, but framing the daily list in this way not only sets a clear priority as a tactical Product Owner, but also stresses that something is getting done. At the end of the day, it is not left in progress, it’s… done!

If I can’t see myself getting the one thing done that day, it might be due to impediments, or the task/story is just too large. (Hmm… really? Can’t get one thing done? Let’s address this or, heck, just accept this…)

If I can see myself getting the one thing done that day, the question not only leads to a visualization, but also to a sense of future satisfaction. (Hmm… yeah… I can get that done, I can see it now… and it’ll feel good, maybe even awesome…)

Discipline of Sleep

I find I am less likely to execute a 15-minute stand-up meeting with myself in the morning if I’d rather be lying in bed because I am tired.

Solution: commit to getting a decent amount of sleep every night. It starts with going to bed at a consistently decent time.

This is what I am working on.

Decrease Focus Factor to Decrease Stress

Lately, I find myself over-committing in my sprints, thus, less gets ‘done’. This is due to ‘things coming up’, as vague as that sounds… usually friends I should hang out with and summer activities I should take advantage of, both sets of which arise very soon before an event, not even with a sprint’s-worth of lead time.

…And the Product Owner in me says they are priority over sprint stories. This is frustrating since I then just finish off the smaller stories with the planned larger stories getting untouched.

Transparency & Inspection into my life’s activities have made this clear – and it is painful – it is no fun carrying larger stories from sprint to sprint. It’s the reality, though, so it’s time for Adaptation.

This current sprint for me is a Spike Sprint, where I will split up existing stories into smaller stories to take into account a realistic and decreased focus factor. This is the beauty of the Velocity concept: it is not the team capacity, but the empirically determined ability for the team to deliver.