Life In Agile

I saw a post on Instagram this morning that said

I don’t have dreams, I have goals. And I achieve them.

I couldn’t help but read this and think “right on!”. Cheesy, I know but it’s true.

I hate January for many reasons. Apart from the fact that it’s bloody cold, January is the month of broken resolutions and broken dreams. Whether it’s promising to go to the gym or go easy on the red wine, resolving to pick up a new skill or hobby, at the start of a new year, the populace seems to be gripped by a short-lived fervour for change. Facebook is awash with sprightly statuses screaming “it won’t be like last year, 20XX will be different! I will do XXX” except by January week 3, most of these said statuses have been forgotten or deleted, old habits resume and change is put off until ‘later’ i.e next year.

I don’t do new years resolutions. I don’t believe in all the ‘turning over a new leaf’ rubbish. If something is worth doing, you shouldn’t have to wait for the year to change for you to get your act together and start working on it.

At work, we’re all about ‘agile’ which basically means running projects over short sprints of a continual cycle of create, release and review rather than planning for X number of months, perfecting the final product and then releasing it. The problem is that in this day and age, by the time you’ve perfected your product the market has moved on and someone else has already beaten you to the post by releasing an unfinished but functional version of whatever you’ve spent the last 6 months perfecting. Your audience is as good as gone, your niche lost.

As odd as it sounds, I have been running my life in ‘agile’ for years. Rather than waiting to perfect something or waiting for the right time, I have a go, get stuck in, accept my mistakes, learn from them and strive on.

Example : if, on January 1st, I tried to convince myself that I should workout daily and stop drinking red wine, I would laugh at me for proposing such a ridiculous statement. However, if over the course of various months I up my workout frequency and lower my red wine intake, a few months later I find that I’m working out daily, hitting my 12,000 step challenge nearly every day and that my monthly drinks bill is practically zero. Ta-dah.

Us humans hate change and I’d wager those who say any different are quite probably lying. Instead, I believe that they have mastered the art of adaptation to such a degree that it looks like they thrive on change. I’m an example of that. I say I thrive on regularly travelling to different countries and immersing myself in different cultures. I might argue that I love the challenge and change of being in a new place but really, I think I’ve simply become so used to this kind of change that suddenly not having it and leading a more sedate, monotonous existence would in itself be a change for me – and one that I would struggle (and have struggled) to adapt to.

For me, it’s not about sitting down once a year and writing down a list of practically impossible resolutions but rather having a small list of realistic targets that I review and reset on a monthly and tri-monthly basis.

You know how I mentioned in my last post I should let some of my work life organisation skills boost my travel productivity, well I’ve been seeing the results of that in my personal life for years: through setting myself smaller realistic goals, I get stuff done.  It’s not rocket science.

I’ve wanted to learn to play guitar for ages but never quite got round to doing it. Before Christmas, I sat down and looked at December’s goals. The only one which didn’t have any progress marked next to it was ‘Learn the guitar’. As I looked through my other goals, it was obvious why.

Next to learn Chinese, I’d written ‘complete ANKI flashcard decks’, next to Korean I’d written ‘find a language partner’ and next to travel I’d written ‘make list of unvisited European countries, book tickets for Dec * Jan’. Next to music, I had written ‘learn guitar’.

What a mammoth of a task!

So I broke it down. What do I need to do to learn to play guitar? Well firstly – and most importantly – I need a guitar. So with some of the money I received over Christmas, I went and bought a guitar. Next, I subscribed to 10-odd guitar-lesson-producing Youtubers and downloaded some of their videos. Now, I’m at the chords stage and I’m starting to play stuff…not particularly well but I am playing.

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