New Year's resolutions are the Waterfall methodology

New Year's resolution are really old school. These days you better do retrospectives.

In case you don't know what is that Waterfall, it is one of the software development methodologies that has a the following stages:

  1. Capture Requirements
  2. System Analysis
  3. Design
  4. Coding
  5. Testing
  6. Being Late
  7. Dumping the project

Sometimes, the dumping is replaced by Operations, but that's the exception.

On the other hand these projects are always late. I really don't understand why the Wikipedia article does not have that as the final stage of the process.

Anyway, writing a New Year's resolution is planning ahead a year. It is quite similar to the Waterfall methodology.

At least in one aspect: It almost never works.

A better approach might be have frequent retrospectives on your life with short term planning. You can still set general direction for the year to come, but don't expect them to work out exactly the way you planned.

As RJBS pointed out in his 2017 in review, the 2018 plan circumstances and personal interests are changing.

We cannot predict our life in the next 12 months. We can set some goals, but we need to be ready to adjust them. We need to create a feed-back loop for ourselves. It can be an annual report like the Annual Report of Mohammad S Anwar.

We can do personal retrospectives like the one Patrick Kua published for 2015. Of course it does not have to be public. Nor annual. One can, and probably should do it more frequently. Monthly or event weekly. (BTW Patrick also wrote a book called The Retrospective Handbook and if you scroll down that page you'll find nice bundles that include a lot of other interesting books. I just bought one of those bundles.

Anyway, there are plenty of more articles you can read on personal retrospectives.

I personally maintain a TODO-list that becomes a journal. It is a plain text file in which I have an entry for every day and a lot of items describing stuff I'd like to do. I move the items around while I am planning the work to be done in the next couple of days. Usually even that does not work out as I expect. The reasons vary, but include incorrectly estimating time needed for the tasks. Interests shifting. Urgent tasks. Bad time management. etc. While I usually don't manage to do all the tasks I planned, but whenever I do something I move or copy it to under the current date. I move it if the task is finished and copy it if there is more to do.

This provides me some way of seeing on what have I "wasted" my time.

Two things that I don't do yet, but maybe I should. 1) I should probably add some more notes when I finish a task to capture my thoughts. This will convert my TODO list into a journal as well. 2) Regular retrospectives on the tasks I have done. I should probably do at least monthly, but better yet weekly retro.

Thinking about it a bit more, having a daily review and updating the entries of the day, or the previous day if I cannot do it in the evening will help me capture the events better and will help me improve my plans for the future.

Let this be my New Year's resolution.

Published on 2018-01-08 by Gabor Szabo