Setting Monthly Personal Goals

Are you a bad developer if you don’t take on side projects?
Everyone lauds engineers for programming nonstop, but I can’t seem to do things that aren’t discretely tasked out for me and on company time any more. I don’t want to work on github until late hours. Is this a side effect of working at a large company? Is this a sign that I can’t keep up any more? Burnout?

–From Quora

I don’t have an answer for this question and I’m not here to judge for how good or bad you are. The fact that you have an account on Quora already ranks you higher than your friends, and proves that you are spending time to learn from the best.
But, I can offer a technique I developed that helped me become better (in addition to your day to day tasks) and push them out of the comfort zone (even if you’re only doing it during the office hours).

In one sentence — Having Monthly Personal Goals will help you to be more productive and focused

Let’s start by explaining the logic behind the technique

  • Most of the People are letting their day to day load to impact their personal growth
  • Everyday matters ,365 days a year, you must plan each one better in order to achieve more
  • Create a personal growth plan (inspired by the Agile Pirate)
  • Define clearly what are you trying to achieve (is it being a better father? is it gaining muscles? running faster? or just learning a new language?)Set Clear Goals and track them on a monthly basisFree time on a daily basis to make those dreams come true

Few rules to help you focus on your PERSONAL goals -
First rule — DO NOT set goals that you know your company will achieve anyway, the tasks that we get from our boss are going to happen anyway, we have to achieve those in order to get paid. most of the time we fail to achieve our personal goals.

Second Rule — Your Boss wants you to become better, even if he isn’t doing anything for you. or not saying it loud. Great managers will help their employee to define his next challenge, and will set goals and milestones to achieve it. if your manager didn’t do it for you, at least create it for yourself and get his feedback, you will be surprised to find out that he can help you make it and sometimes even more important, he can be your motivator on your 1 on 1 or your monthly checkpoints.

Third Rule — Being aware of your personal goals might help you find opportunities around the company, e.g. you want to write more on github, and you have a project for measuring site availability that you can take part of, suggesting your boss to write it on GItHub might kill two birds with one stone.

How to do it?

  • Define yourself the subjects\areas that you want to improve\learn (e.g. brand myself, Agile Coach, Vacation, etc.)
  • For each subject \ area — start to define a measurable goal (e.g. vacation = have a cool vacation with my son in the next 6 month)
  • break down to tasks — don’t leave it with high level goals, try to see what you need to do in order to make it happen. (e.g. passport, check the ski opportunity, take him to a local place to learn the basics, etc.)
  • spread those tasks over the next months (my assumption that it is easier to track months than weeks) moreover, this is not something that you are going to invest full days in, so you need to have bigger periods of time in order to make sure you won’t miss you goals.
  • Free 1 hour every day to run those tasks, I am using the slots that I used to be less productive, after lunch, at night before going home, etc.
  • Track your monthly goals — on a weekly basis

So, if you still don’t have Monthly Personal Goals, Start with answering the following questions: What do you want to achieve this year? and what is the first step toward it?

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