Category Archives: goals

Retro

In September 2009, I decided that for the next year, I would concentrate on three goals:

  • Reading (12 books)
  • Blogging (40 posts)
  • Coding (4 projects)

What did I learn about setting objectives? What do I need to improve? These questions will be answered in a few moments… and if you care you might even hear how I fared.

The results (drum roll)

Overall I’m happy with what I accomplished. I read more books than what I planned (16 books that I remember plus tons of blogs), and I blogged as planned (*exactly* as planned if I include this post and another I posted only on the Pyxis blog). However I wanted to code a lot more than I did. I’m still pleased with the small projects that I worked on but I envisioned something bigger. I mostly did prototypes, katas and experimentation with Rails. No big projects, nothing on github (yet).

I did learn a lot about setting objectives for the future:

Lesson #1 : Never write about goals other people set for you

My wife convinced me to put something about losing a bit of weight. Fail. It wasn’t my goal, it should never have made the list

Lesson # 2 : Keep your objectives focused

For me, three goals was one too much. Very early on I could see that it was easier for me to write blogs or read books than it was to code – books were feeding me for blogs, blogs were giving me questions to read about. Coding felt lonely. Next time I’m going to go with two goals max to start with – and coding is going to be one of them.

Lesson # 3 : Do it gradually

Setting goals is definitely something that allowed me to improve. When I did it in the past, I usually started with a big goal in mind. I suggest you try it with small objectives at first and grow more ambitious as you go. Get started, have habits in place. Then think big.

Lesson #4 : Think about your next goals in advance

Especially if you plan on blogging about it on time. Shame on me.

I have a few ideas but I’m not fixed yet, so I’ll set a few very short term goals for now.

Touch-Typing Training – Results

As I wrote a week ago, I trained touch-typing this week. My objective was to attain 85 wpm. Here’s a recap of my week:

Monday : I decided to use Typeracer as my baseline. It’s an online game that allows you to race others. The fastest typist wins. I had not played in 6 months or so – and it showed. My score for the last ten races dropped a bit. This was not a good start. Result after the day : 74 wpm

Tuestday : I did some drills on goodtyping.com to get back to speed. It must have helped because I raised my speed to 78 wpm.

Wednesday : mostly played Typeracer. I managed to cut down on typing errors and I’m up to 81 wpm.

Thursday : I tried to practice at night instead of during lunch time. Without much success – 80 wpm. My fingers were not obeying me. I did a few drills on goodtyping.com to increase accuracy.

Friday : Success! I managed to consistently type over 80 wpm today by concentrating on typing slower but with less mistakes. I managed an average of 87 wpm on my last 10 races.

The week is over and I achieved my objective of 85 wpm. I did this mostly by reducing mistakes – they can get really slow you down.

Thanks to my colleagues who followed in my track and helped me focus on this challenge.

Personnal Goals

People usually do it for the New Year, but for me the beginning of September was time to think about what I want to accomplish for the next year.

What better way to keep the determination to accomplish my goals than to publish them online and be publicly humiliated if I don’t succeed?

So here is what I want to achieve until September 1st, 2010 :

  • Write 40 blog posts. I aim for one a week but there are always vacations and weeks where I’m too busy on something else. Forty sounds like a good start for me.
  • Read a book a month
  • Code four small projects, one every three months.

After talking to my wife, she kind of forced me to get a fourth goal.

  • Lose 10 pounds.

I’m not going to elaborate on this one. Talk to my wife :)

Why did I want to set goals?

I read quite a few books and articles saying that setting goals gives you a way to focus your energy. And a colleague of mine is impressing me by his ability to focus on short term achievements to attain his long term goals. Now is the time to see if these goal-oriented fanatics are right.

Why did I chose these goals?

Blogging – I’m committed to continuing on blogging for the next year. It allows me to try some creative thinking techniques when I’m out of subjects. It also forces me to organize my ideas and learn some subjects in more depth before I blog about them.

Books – I already read about 9-10 a year but I wanted to stretch a bit and go for one per month. That should be pretty doable. Books allow me to find new interesting subjects to talk about and I was always an avid reader. The book I’m currently reading is Peopleware. As I’m reading it I’m experimenting with mindmaps. I’ll publish my insights in another post.

Personal projects – pretty much every years I code bits and pieces of small applications. I lay down architectures for more ambitious projects. But (shame on me) I seldom finish a personal project. Time is lacking or more interesting things come around. Whatever the reason, the result is that nothing gets done. Well this time I want to turn things around and focus on closure – I want each project to be finished, in a repo (trying git right now… loving it so far) and tested to my satisfaction. I’m not sure if all the projects will be publicly available, but at least one is going to be.

Final Thoughts

I selected short-term goals to get in the habit meeting my commitments. Setting weekly, monthly and quarterly goals seemed like a good start. Eventually I would like to have a Big, Hairy Audacious Goal, something that will drive me for years to come.

This is only the beginning…