I like waking up in the morning and logging miles. Biking, running or even swimming, all these are a great way for me to start the day. To clear my mind, organize my thoughts, and get ready for the challenges of a brand new day. In fact the idea for our Open API came to my mind during one of my early morning runs. The fresh air, the quiet peaceful sunrise, and the high adrenalin make my thinking sharp and focused. This is where I get the best ideas, and why I like exercising so much.
But, sometimes, all this is not enough to get me out of bed bright and early, before the sun is out. And at such times, I realize that I need to set a new goal for myself.
As managers, setting goals is our second nature. Everyone speaks about SMART goals (SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). Setting really SMART goals is an art that requires skill and experience. When it comes to software, I know how to set SMART goals for myself and for my employees, as well as coach others in doing so.
Often, as I coach new managers, we discuss SMART goals. And they find it tricky defining specific, measurable, realistic goals.
This time when I tried to apply these principles to my favorite hobby, suddenly it became tricky for me. To make sure it is timely and specific, I set a particular race as a goal race. Yet, how do I make sure that my goal is realistic, but not easy? How do I measure it? Every race course is different; even the same course on a different day, with different weather conditions can be different. I turned back to all my management experience, trying to apply the same principles to set my race goal – quite challenging. Eventually, with some help from my coach, I managed to do it, and set a SMART goal for myself.
In software projects, when you set good SMART goals – magic happens. Suddenly, the plan becomes clearer. Making a decision on what is important, and what can be spared or postponed to a later phase, becomes very easy in light of the goal. Projects just start running fast forward when you define your goals well. In many cases developers come back to me amazed, saying they never thought they could do this stuff.
The same magic just happened to me in sports now. Suddenly, I got my motivation back. Getting up in the morning and hitting the road feels good. And I am amazed to discover new things about myself as an athlete, doing stuff I never thought I was capable of.
Once again (last time was when I was doing a fast bike race), I discovered how much this crazy hobby of mine, and this crazy job of mine have in common. Both bring huge satisfaction. J
If you want to learn more about SMART goal setting, here is a nice Web site I recently came across discussing how to set goals.