New year resolutions are prone to become redundant within the first fortnight of the new year. Millions of posts explain how the human mind works causing this debacle. This piece will not delve into the postmortem of human psychology. Instead, the post will focus on presenting a practical framework to develop a sustainable resolution design.
Resolutions around key dates are easier to track. Besides social obligation and sentimental value, the resolution date is immaterial to the outcome. The sentiment-triggered goals are reactions and hence end up being over-ambitious and result in baggage. Being objective about the outcome and then reverse engineering the resolution with milestones can help us become better at getting things done in general. Move beyond the motivation addiction to bias for actions.
Why a Framework?
Getting things done is necessary. However, in a fast-paced lifestyle, the window of opportunities is closing down quicker than in the past decades. A framework to convert ambitions into plans can help one get rid of doubt and anxiety upfront instead of the misery caused by an unbounded resolution.
For example, a famous resolution is “going to the gym every day.” I have been guilty of this resolution as well. But after the first few failures, I corrected my resolution to a plan. I set up a real challenge instead. Increase the weight by 5 pounds every fortnight. Once the date was out of the equation, I had more frequent goals to achieve, measure progress, and tune the process. After four months, I had to move the target to 3 weeks since the body needed more time to build muscle. Now I had a framework with metrics I could control, and then on top of that, I could set resolutions like losing 3 kg per quarter or doing 75 push-ups in a day by the end of this year. I achieved both eight years ago, but once the regimen broke, I moved to different routines to keep myself healthy. The resolutions change the framework remains.
“I will get a new job this year” cannot be a resolution. It is just a distraction and a source of anxiety. Instead, ask the following questions before you decide on the outcome.
Jobs are scalars. Career is a vector. Direction of career is vulnerable to many external forces. Aim responsibly.
- Do you need to switch in declining market conditions with thousands of skilled competitors forced back into the recruitment market?
- Are you tired of toxic working place?
- Are you not happy with your salary?
- Are you ready to start something of your own?
- Are you sensing an impending layoff? Remember, the layoffs can be unrelated to your performance when cost-cutting is triggered. Be sure to know the actual trigger!
Asking more specific questions will help you come up with intermediate milestones. Don’t jump into the market out of boredom or anxiety. Following are limited-time discount coupons for Udemy courses to shape your career and prepare with a knowledge-based framework.
A job change becomes imminent if the salaries are insufficient to keep up with your expenses. But is that a necessity or a fixable situation? For example, being unable to take international vacations is not the same as being unable to pay rent. The vacations are desires, and the rent is a necessity. The new year is an excellent opportunity to set up measurable goals.
“I will get richer this year” is a dangerous resolution that might push you to make untested short-term decisions resulting in wasting your capital. Come up with something measurable like “I will pay off 15% of my mortgage this year,” “I will save for the year-end vacation within the first six months of this year.” or “I will cut my expenses on entertainment subscriptions by 20% this year.” Give yourself time to adjust and succeed.
If you are planning to take any kind of loan in the next 12 months, planning its down payments has to be part of your resolutions!
Personal finance and career go hand in hand. Planning is crucial. There is no surprise that these two factors are significant contributors to stress and anxiety in your life. Focus on necessities. Following is a limited-time discount coupon for a primer in personal finance fundamentals. No product placement, pure practical knowledge.
Self Learning for Growth
Learning is integral to growth irrespective of the field of work. Self learning is as abstract as working out goals.
Everyone has different needs, some do it for vanity and some for sanity.
Setting up time and costs is crucial for self learning. There is ton of free content but the time it takes to get the accurate knowledge is just too much. As search becomes faster the time it takes to sort the results also becomes higher. We still have only limited mental capacity to learn on a daily basis. Making most of everyday is crucial.
For example, if you have to change job to increase your salary to ensure you can afford a high mortgage, then the FAANG class employer is the best opportunity. An employer who pays a lot in return for nothing but excellence. Excellence in production grade environments comes with a high risk of burn out as well. To be prepared for high stress jobs takes practice. Only clearing interviews might get your foot in the door but survival is purely based on knowledge.
A resolution of self learning as hobby is different from one that impacts your future. If you need to take a loan then understanding personal finance becomes a prerequisite. Similarly, if you want to move to an organization that has lean software engineering teams then you need to upskill on multiple fronts. To save yourself from burnout you need to build expertise systematically. Think beyond certifications and focus on fundamentals. Interview prep is best done 6-8 weeks prior to actual onsite.
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Reading is still the most relevant mode of acquiring technical knowledge. Podcasts and Youtube videos can help acquiring knowledge as well but for some deep technical topics books are still the best source of facts.
Fundamentals change over decades. Hence books about them remain relevant for decades as well.
Following articles will help you get started with your technical reading. Reading fast with comprehension is a habit. Sharpening your reading skills will help you irrespective of field of work.
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Even if resolutions have become a fashion, there is no harm in utilizing the euphoria to your advantage. Look at it as an opportunity to connect with like minded people based on sincerity of their resolution announcements.
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