Planning Your New Year

Every year, people make resolutions. They tend to be general statements like “get in better shape” or “make more money”. That’s great, but that isn’t really a resolution and it’s certainly not a strategy. You can’t “hope” these things into existence:

“Hope is not a strategy.” –Anderson Cooper (and multiple other sources)

In your life, you must have had success with things, right? Perhaps at work, do you get your projects done on time? How is that done? You typically do that with a plan. In your personal life, do you have a plan – or do you just “wing it”?

For me, I’ve realized that if I want to have success in my personal life, I need to have a plan. “Winging it” is not working!

To me, we all have roughly the same looking week:

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How much of that time is wasted? How much is spent watching TV or playing games? I think we should have downtime – but how much do we waste? What if instead of squandering THIS much available time – what if we actively planned what we wanted to do?

Above represents 55.5 hours of FREE time every week, by the way!

So, what kind of plans do we need? Well arguably, there are a few categories of life where we likely want to have more success:

Professional:
This is perhaps the easiest, because you probably already know what you can/should be doing – but you just haven’t carved out the time. Why should you work on things outside of work, you ask?

Primary, if you go to your boss next year and have the same degree, do the same work, have the same experience – why should they give you a raise? Conversely, what if you go to your boss next year and have a new professional certification, have watched a few dozen Pluralsight courses, and learned 3 new technologies. Now you can ask, why WOULDN’T they give you a raise? And if they don’t – you are well-positioned to perhaps find a better company!

Secondly, is simply job security (and more importantly, income security). The scale and pace of change in IT recently is just – insane. You need to keep up or you risk becoming irrelevant! If you stay current and are laid off, you should be able to bounce back quickly. If not, then you might be facing months of unemployment where you are probably going to work on professional development anyhow, just so that you can find a job! You may as well just make it part of your life now!

If you don’t know where to start, here are the general things I came up with, specifically for professional development goals for the 1st quarter of 2015:

  1. Conference catch-up: go through all of the material from last years Microsoft conferences to watch videos of what I missed. Pretty much every conference publishes the session videos within a couple of days.
    • //Build, Ignite, Worldwide Partner Conference, Connect();, Convergence, AzureConf, AspConf, TechEd, PDC, etc
  2. Pluralsight: go through the course catalog and come up with a list of sessions I want to watch, and then schedule a time to watch them.
  3. Udacity/Udemy/Coursera: go through the course catalog and come up with a list of sessions I want to watch, and then schedule a time to watch them.
  4. New technology: Get caught up on some specific pieces of technology
    • Having a working website with AngularJS, WebAPI – with OAuth for authentication
    • ASP.NET vNext (in case you haven’t seen VS2015, ASP.NET has been changed pretty dramastically)
  5. DuoLingo: this is a FREE website and app (on all platforms) for learning other spoken languages. I want to continue to work through Spanish and German, every day.
  6. Open source contributions: I am involved in 3 open source projects – one where I am the owner, one where I am a project partner, and one where I am an outside who submits pull requests. I want to consistently contribute to all three of these projects (and the publication of the subsequent NuGet packages).
  7. Blog posts – write at least one blog post every week. Ideally get a backlog and schedule posts to be auto-published in the future. Note that I would probably write a blog post for each of the other things on this list – with the exception of DuoLingo.
  8. YouTube submissions – I am still hesitant on this, but I conceptually would like to produce one, short YouTube video every week. I’m still working on a list of content.
  9. Applications – there are also two applications that I would like to bring to market – at least get version 1.0 released on both.

Just with this alone, this is a LOT of work to do outside of my day job. So, I’m currently working on a schedule and will be trying out a few different techniques in the coming weeks to see if I can find a system that works well for me.

If I aim to complete 100% of this and only reach 50%, I’m still doing WAY better than “winging it”!

Regardless of how I get it done, I would be extremely happy to arrive on April 1st, look back at the quarter and see that I have addressed all of these. Then, I will make my plan for the next quarter.

Health:
With a 34% of adults in the U.S. being obese – perhaps you have weight to lose. Perhaps you are in shape, but want to get stronger – or perhaps you want to train for a 5K or marathon. For those that don’t know, I lost over 100lbs a few years ago. I lost on average, 18-20lbs per month using Atkins/Keto. I often say:

“Don’t put off for years, what it takes months to fix.” –Robert Seder

Maybe you have some health issue that has been plaguing you for years. The point is, think for a moment about your health – is there something that needs to be addressed? If there is, determine the problem, come up with strategies, and develop a plan to fix it. Define specific goals and specific dates!

Financial:
Here too, is there some financial goal you have? Do you need to get rid a specific debt? Do you want to lower your overall debt? Do you want to save more? Do you want to save for something specific?

Maybe this is the year that you start working towards your retirement – perhaps with real estate or the stock market? Again, figure out how much money you need, come up with some strategies and start putting a plan in place!

Relationships:
Similarly, maybe there is a relationship you need to fix – or maybe it’s a relationship you need to end. Take the time now to stop and think – are there toxic people in your life? Do you have friends that are bad friends? Do you have a good support system? Are you a good support system for your friends? Do your friends challenge you?

Make a conscious effort to get your relationships right. Get the bad people out, let more of the good ones in – and try to be the good friend to others.

Your ONE thing**:
Now, with that said – pretty much every has their “one thing”. That is, the ONE THING that is really holding you back. The one thing that if it was addressed, would make the biggest impact in life. It could be a huge debt, weight loss, a bad relationship, a bad job, etc.

You probably already know what it is, but if you don’t – figure out what it is!

Summary:
What I’m doing, and what I’m suggesting you do – is take a half hour and think about these things. Figure out where you need to be:

  • Professionally
  • With health
  • With your finances
  • With your relationships

And most-importantly, figure out what your One Thing is. Write this all down. Then, come up with some strategies for how to address each.

Then, use MS Excel and create a grid like this if you like – and figure out when you are going to start addressing these things. Come up with a plan for the first quarter of 2015. I know for me this is going to be challenging, but it’s a very worthy goal!

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Posted in General, Organization will set you free, Professional Development, Uncategorized
One comment on “Planning Your New Year
  1. […] week, I wrote a blog post compiling my thoughts on planning my year. Specifically, planning the first quarter, or first 90 […]

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