Your "New Year, New Me" Retrospective is Overdue.
Yes, I believe you. You are going to drink more water, workout three to five days a week, eat healthier, and maybe start those new goals that you are looking to complete. I promise you that I understand because I am on the same boat as well. I too, am a victim of the "New Year, New Me" trend where you write down all you goals, have vision board parties, create think groups, and conference calls asking your friends to keep you accountable. Only to wake up on that first Monday of February and say to yourself.......
"I will do it tomorrow, I'm good."
Here is the reason why we do this to ourselves every year. We do not have Retrospectives that will keep us growing, performing, and achieving our successes. Additionally, staying "motivated" is extremely hard. Motivation is something that only works in a perfect world that has a temporary effect under sometimes perfect conditions. For motivation to work you need to constantly and continuously make adjustments to yourself, your mindset, and your work ethic to stay on task. When one of those factors slip then the motivation can be lost. David Goggins gave a perfect explanation of this in his book "Can't Hurt Me". Where he talks about staying motivated and having to callous your mind to be so hardened and stuck on your routine that it becomes second nature.
I am positive that there are a lot of you that are freaks of nature like David Goggins and even more of you that sometimes "drop the ball" like me when it comes to staying motivated. However, here are some daily mantras that I have plastered all over my workspace and in my home to give me a reminder of what to remember when conducting my personal and professional retrospectives.
1. Plan for the long term. Grind for the short term. This is hard for some because they come with a long term goal but they do not know how they are going to get there. I struggle with this as well, especially when working out. For example, I want to be more physically fit. I have a plan of the type of results I want to have. However, I sometimes struggle with the idea of knowing what needs to be done to get there. I tell myself that if I lift weights and run on the treadmill like I have done in the past then
I will have my "action figure" body that I have been thinking of in no time. For some, that actually does work. Actually in my twenties that worked very easily for me. However, now that I am older I understand that I have to change my diet, create some benchmarks, and stay on a consistent grind toward the long term objective. Sometimes, the most disappointing thing is that you can not turn on the switch and be at the finish line. The love will begin with you complete small goals that will tie into the larger one.
2. Constantly Prioritize. Every week I am adjusting my trello backlog of tasks that I want to get done. Sometimes, I am doing this almost every day. I know this is far from the rules of Scrum but hey, life happens. The ability to adjust your task list based on the curve balls that life throws at you allows you to stay sane as well as productive. I am a really big critic when it comes to the productivity of my own work especially when I am not utilizing my time efficiently. I have actually found it very productive the more I have reprioritized my tasks daily than to try and force things to get done that may be a stretch to complete. It feels great to have small wins that encourages me to continue to be productive. There are lots of studies behind the psychological effects it has on the brain when a person get things done. My philosophy with working with many teams that I have coached are to "Work Smarter Not Harder". Some great points are pointed out in another blog by Ronald E. Riggio Ph.D.
3. Challenge yourself. The only way that you are going to get better, smarter, faster, stronger, is to continuously challenge yourself. Sometimes challenges can be fueled by your own competitive nature. Or, it can be fueled by trying to tap into breaking limitations. Whatever the motivating factor may be if you are not challenging yourself then you will not want to do it. It would be a waste of time. To be honest, drafting this blog entry was such a challenge to myself because of some things that happened in the beginning of my New Year that broke the motivation of my "New Year, New Me" mentality. Additionally, due to my prioritization of other things writing just became more farther down my backlog than expected. Do not fret, that is ok. We often work with Product Owners that push things farther and farther on the back burner all the time. What is important is that we utilize the skill of prioritizting to keep moving towards our goals by continuing to challenge ourselves in other areas that will circle us back to the main goal.
4. Focus on what you need to do NOW. This can be confused with "Everything Is Important". That is not what I mean by this. For example, there was a stint in my career where I was a Delivery Manager working at an organization that was new to Agile. Many times more than often I would have senior leaders often give me requests for items on their backlog to get done by our software development team. Sometimes, weeks after the request is initiated I would hear from a senior leader.
"Hey Sharmon, I sent you a request a few weeks ago on XYZ. Where are we at on that?"
- It's currently in our backlog
"Well why, this is very important!"
- I understand that it is of high importance but does that mean it is also a high priority? During our last planning meeting this other thing was of higher priority and also important.
*insert blank stare from leader*
These are the types of conversations that you need to have with yourself when identifying the types of goals that you are working to achieve. I understand that this is important because it would not be on the list if it was not. However, what is of higher priority? This priority list may change daily. Which is the reason why I check my backlog daily as well. Everyday, I am checking my backlog to understand what am I attacking to get done. Some priorities shift due to changes in my schedule, work, or just life in general. However, just because there is a change in priority does not mean that task is no longer important.
5. Celebrate. Pat yourself on the back sometimes, sheesh you earned it! No really, celebrate the wins. We all need that self given high five when you do something great, or a nice weekend off when you put in some good work during a long week, or even having a cheat day like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson after meeting some crazy workout goals. Whatever the case may be, learn how to tell yourself:
Good d@mn job. Now lets get to the next goal.
I promise it will be well for your psyche to give yourself the mental, emotional, and psychological boost that you need to keep putting in the great work that you do. This should be something that you not only do for yourself but for others as well. Tell others that you are excited about the great work that they are doing. Show that enthusiasm and excitement along with them to keep them motivated. In many cases it can give positive results. Continue to grind, continue to crush goals, and continue to have retrospectives for yourself to stay on track, reprioritize goals, and get great results.