Agile Resolutions

Before the start of each year, I usually make a list of things to achieve or things to improve on that year. They would typically be long term goals that I hope to be able to accomplish by the end of that year. This list is most commonly known as the new year’s resolutions and I’m sure many people do the same.

As with most people, I have found out that the typical way we make resolutions tend to have pretty low statistics for success. Most of the time I tend to loose track and at times even drop the ball completely. It wasn’t working out so well, but I liked the idea of it. As such, I started to identify issues with the way I’m making these goals in hopes of finding a better solution. I see it as a form of planning for personal and/or professional development that can benefit from the application of frameworks used for software development.

My goals tend to be too big to address and difficult to measure. “Eat healthily”, “Start working out”, “Learn to code”, etc. They are good long term goals but they aren’t exactly helpful in achieving the goals themselves. What would be considered eating healthily could differ each week. It is also difficult to measure their level of success. By breaking down these large goals into smaller actionable tasks, I would be able to have something that I can measure, as well as keep track of as I progress throughout the year.

As humans, we tend to be very poor at predicting outcomes for the future. Anything can happen and goals and priorities will change at an instant. Keeping to the goals that you set at the beginning of the year can suddenly seem irrelevant. Having a framework that can adapt to your changing goals would be the obvious choice.

This year, I’m going to apply the agile methodology to my new year’s resolutions. Rather than planning for year long goals, I would plan for 2 week sprints. This would allow me to set small actionable tasks that would contribute to the general direction of where I would like to end up. These goals would be evaluated at the end of the current sprint and the goals for the next sprint would be planned based on the results of my progress. With this approach, I reckon I would be able to achieve more as well as sustain my motivation throughout the year compared to previous years.

Stanley Tan