Agile is a Mindset

How to apply a development methodology to real life

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When you think of the word agile, the first thing that probably pops up in your mind is a development methodology or maybe a word to describe a runner.

But, I’m talking about a combination of what we can learn from a mixture of both to provide a change in our mentality and help us make decisions faster.

Often we are bogged down by the idea of the PERFECT DREAM job and pressuring ourselves to instantaneously find it, that we lose sight of how many tries it may take some of us to get there.

How many times have you heard the phrase “do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”? But what if you don’t love anything and you like a lot of different things?

For some of us (myself included), the idea of choosing a path that isn’t meant for us, getting stuck & not being able to find something we actually like/want to pursue can be terrifying. Some call it indecisive — but it’s a fear. A fear of getting boxed into something we never wanted in the first place.

And it’s paralyzing.

Although IT has never been a dream job of mine, it’s where I have been for 9 years now. IT is fast paced & regularly evolving which has kept me on my toes — constantly learning new trends and gaining certificates in various disciplines.

I have learned that none of these methodologies are just frameworks to “know about” but a mindset that must change throughout the leaders/individuals within an organization — a fundamental shift in perspective in terms of funding, innovating, and leadership.

This same approach can be applied to how we make personal life decisions especially for those of us who are paralyzed by the fear of committing to a singular life path and have the desire to explore different avenues.

Enterprises like the agile methodology because the upfront costs are significantly lower and at the end of a cycle there is a shippable piece of code that can go into production.

Executives can see an output quickly and are satisfied. Teams feel more empowered to act, and high risks are visible immediately making the process more efficient and valuable to the overall organization.

But, could we apply this same method to our own personal goals?

According to dictionary.com agile is: marked by an ability to think quickly mentally acute or aware.

Upfront cost doesn’t necessarily just apply to money, but also our time spent trying to make decisions. Time equals money, so the longer we sit and contemplate what direction we want to take our careers, businesses, family affairs etc. the more of our personal currency we waste.

So much of our mental effort is spent creating what-if scenarios that we spend less time/money investing in ourselves and in the end, we have nothing to show. Where is our shippable code?

But, what about failure?

Enterprises are haunted by this idea of FAILURE. What does failure really mean? It means that the company invested A LOT of cash into a project/product release and either it never makes into the market, or they launch it into the marketplace and they don’t make their expected revenue.

Using agile, enterprises have learned that they can look at risks of failure early and don’t have to make a high investment. Yes, they lost money, but it was much less than what it would have been if they let it fester for a year.

By practicing this method as a mentality, enterprises can quickly pivot onto a new idea or direction, plan accordingly, cut their losses early on and continue to make improvements to their products/services.

The same goes for our own decision-making approach.

When we experiment with our own ideas and put a low investment into concepts (i.e. $5 in Facebook ads to see if there is interest) or low-fidelity prototypes, we can figure out what works for us & what doesn’t. Additionally, we are able to find what we are most excited about within the process fairly quick.

Sure, you weren’t passionate about selling a specific product/service but maybe you loved running an online store and managing a back office, or you loved what it took to design a website.

Through experimentation, we can find our strengths, continue to improve, pivot, and move to something new. PLUS we grow personally, professionally, mentally, start to appreciate our small wins, and are grateful for our large personal victories.

Once we move from fear into action, and realize that consistently trying new things doesn’t mean we are stuck in one area forever or considered a failure, we find what paths of life are worth exploring for ourselves… and eventually we will stumble upon the ONE DREAM JOB that is meant for us!