Thoughts toward annual goals – 2008

Observations No Comments

I’ve been putting some time into thinking about setting some goals for next year. I’ve been concentrating pretty hard on my “day job” as we head into testing and prepare for an impending release – ready or not. As an aside, software development schedules are so ridiculous – with all these smart people, you would think that common sense would enter in somewhere.

Anyway, enough about them; let’s talk about me.

Take the technical trek?

One of the biggest issues I’m working through is what kind of projects I want to concentrate on over the coming months. I really want to put together a book. In fact I have two and a half ideas for content. One on a religious topic and one and a half on life skills and personal improvement topics. I thought I would do the religious one first – but now I’m thinking that one would not provide the benefit for the effort extended. Most of the concepts I would cover are already adequately addressed elsewhere. Do I really need to have the same thing only my way?

That brings me to the second (and a half) book(s). Here again, I wouldn’t be presenting anything shockingly new. However, I am going after a different audience and I will be packaging the information in a new and, hopefully, meaningful way. So I think I’ll put my effort there. More on this soon. I want to break this task down into manageable bite sized pieces. Well see what happens.

With respect to software development – I don’t believe this is part of my long term vision for my life. But to transition out will take some serious planning and commitment. I am able to support my whole family from my current arrangement. If I’m going to replace that, I’m going to have to really get creative. If this is indeed my decision, I am going to lay out a ten year transition plan to make the switch. What? Is ten years too long? Should I shoot for five, or three? I’m not that confident yet – so I’m more comfortable with ten.

If that is my direction, I am not going to be able to dig into PHP and frameworks and try to become a web development guru. It’s not my path, it’s not really my passion, and it’s a diversion of tons of time and thought. In my line of work there is always the “build versus buy” decision. I’m deciding to buy instead of build. What are the ramifications of this?

  1. I’ll have to depend on others to get the results I want. I may even have to pay for something I could “just do myself.”
  2. I’ll have to collaborate, share, and work with others more. The ‘Lone Ranger’ strategy isn’t a winner here.
  3. I’ll have to give up on trying to solve technical issues myself as my knowledge becomes more generalized.

Those will be some things will take some swallowing. On the other hand, what technical knowledge I do keep up with will have to relate to my current “hold the fort” work.

Aligning with a vocation

So if I’m not going to be a technical nerd – what am I going to do?

  • Conflict resolution, mediation, coach counselor
  • Life coach
  • Financial counselor
  • Author
  • Web site manager
  • eMarketer
  • Tutor / teacher / educator
  • Minister

How do I take those options and coalesce them into one direction? They all generally relation to teaching or counseling others. The eMarketing comes in with including the Web as a venue for activity. Helping people in their situations, financial, relational, or spiritual are all underlying motivations. This needs more definition, but it also need some sort of monetization model. Do I write materials or a book and offer that as a product? Do I sell my time for coaching or to give presentations? I don’t want to sell time – that’s what I’m currently doing. There has to be a better way.

Shoring up the underpinnings.

I also want to focus on the fundamentals. My physical improvement, my mental growth, strengthening my family, and becoming organized and proactive. These are all areas that can only improve by small incremental victories gained over a sustained period of time. But without a plan, these little victories aren’t planned or won. Here are some areas that I would like to focus on:

  • Family relationships – making plans as a family. Becoming the best family we can be. Setting complementary goals.
  • Physical exercise – not to reach a weight, but to gain energy and improve my quality of life as I age.
  • Financial tracking – testing and tracking personal and business accounts is the baseline for improvement.
  • Processing information once, whether paper or electronic. Putting things in their proper place.

I know many of these things are pretty vague – but I still have some time to further define these things. I’m just putting these here so they are somewhere. If you would like to add your thoughts or reflections – feel free!

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Running the gauntlet

Business, Learning, Observations No Comments

These next 3-4 weeks will be pretty stressful for me. I’m in the process of having some software tested and released. Why is this stressful? It’s not complete to my satisfaction!

Here is a thought about projects. I’ve used it in the software arena, but it may be helpful to you in other areas of your life.

There are only three things you can change to get a project completed.

  1. You can change the due date and give yourself more time to reach completion (the most sane option in my opinion).
  2. You can get help!  Have people join in.  For complicated projects, there will be a ramp up cost.  Don’t forget that.
  3. You can sacrifice quality and just “deliver something.”

It has been the story of my life that I am rarely brave enough to use #1, I’ve never been wise enough to try #2 (although I’m eying that option very carefully), and I find myself time and again facing #3.

But the way I’ve handled things in the past is that I would rather just miss a deadline and not turn out anything, than the turn out something I’m not satisfied with.  This could tend toward perfectionism.  This may be why I haven’t blogged so consistently..  I want to have quality things to say.

I’m just wondering, but maybe life is better when you “just get something out there.” Let it face criticism and then hone and revise.  This would lead toward a satisfactory product instead of striving for something flawless out of the gate.

Something to consider – what do you think?  Are these the only three options for a project, or are there others?  Are you a perfectionist?  What do you think about the draft – revision cycle?  Is that how you really work?  What works for you and what are you doing currently?  Are they the same thing?

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Personal Development Partners

Learning No Comments

I was encouraged by a little nudge from Aaron over at Personal Development Partners to report on my progress from a committed goal of getting back to regular exercise in November.  Although the topic over there is very interesting, I would like to say a few words about the value of web communities.

People might wonder, “Why would I sit online and type short messages to people I may have never even met?”  Ok, for most other people they would be short messages – I don’t seem able to do that.  That’s neither here nor there; it’s not my point.  My point is that many people don’t see the point.  Get my point?

So I want to give you a few reasons why I feel that it is beneficial to find a community that you can join – and contribute to.  Just going and reading forums can be addictive – there’s a voyeuristic quality to it.  That’s why they call it “lurking,” as in lurking in the shadows.  So why participate in these communities.  Oh, oh, I feel a list coming on…

  1. You get to meet distant people.  Sure you can meet people in real life.  But from Australia?  From Guatemala (or Canada 😉 )?  Not much of that happening pretty much in the populational and geographical center of the ole’ U.S. of A. (actually that center is about 2 hours south and west of here, but close enough.)
  2. You can find people with similar interests.  This beats bar hopping!  I know people who have had romantic involvements with people that went really bad.  “Why did this happen to me?” they moan.  Well what did you have in common?  You both were willing to troll around in a smoky bar looking for love in all the wrong places.  Why not go where you can find people with the same mindset and interests as yourself.  I also know people who have met online and gotten married (well, only two off the top of my head – but that’s not insignificant!).  They knew (and loved) each other from the inside out.  Which brings me to my next point.
  3. You get to know people by their character and their thoughts and opinions – not just their looks.  One of the big advantages to online communities is you don’t have the problem of judging the book by the cover.  You are forced to at least skim the contents.  I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of an online community and then have a party were members came from near (mostly near – this was college days…) and far (like states away…) to meet in person.  It is a huge shock!  There was one guy who was a close friend online, but when I met him I thought, “If I saw him coming down the street my way, I’d cross to the other side for safety!”  Hey, King Zombie, if you’re out there drop me a line… I haven’t heard from you for forever!  — Elias  (sorry about that, but you never know what Google will dredge up…?)
  4. You get to have your own thoughts and assumptions about life challenged and stretched.  You can do this in person as well, but with such a high concentration of activity online – it is magnified and intensified.  There’s nothing like an advanced course in multiple perspectives that will open your eyes to how small your world view has been.
  5. Oh, come on, there’s got to be at least 5 reasons!!  Oh here’s one, “they’re always there for you.”  No not in the sense of emotional support, although that’s available in many places.  I mean that it’s a place that’s jumpin’ in all 24 time zones.  It doesn’t matter when your where you are – you can hop online and engage with others.

Well that’s a little starter for reasons to participate with others online.  Now I’m still learning all this social networking stuff (is that the same as Web 2.0? I don’t really think so…  Ok, don’t drift off – stay on target…).  So I’m going to take this opportunity to try to link this post over to the community mention in the title up there.  I’m also going to do what I see at the end of so many other blog posts – let’s see how this works…

So, how about you?  Do you participate in online communities?  Why or why not?  Do you have other reasons why you do(n’t)?  Leave a comment here and tell me, er I mean us, about it.

(not too cheesy was it?  I sure hope I have my comments functionality properly enabled.  That would be embarrassing wouldn’t it?  I probably should’ve checked before I posted.  No time now, if I don’t go exercise I’ll miss my window of opportunity and have to go on to work!)

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