Tracking your goals

June 28, 2014

Why?

How will you know what whether or not you will hit your deadline? How can you create some accountability without having a “boss” look over your shoulder?

If you start tracking your goals, you will know how far away you are to reaching your goal, how much work is left to do to hit your goal and will you make your deadline exactly if you have hit your deadline. You will now have a way to “know where you are” which is invaluable in software engineering and life in general.

How?

You will need to find a quantifiable metric to measure your progress that’s the hardest part. What to measure and how to measure? Take some thought. Let’s say you wanted to measure a software project you could use feature implementation or story delivery as your milestones to track your goal of delivering a product. If it was something personal like losing weight, you might use your weekly weigh-in or the inches around your waist as your milestone. For your fitness you could track mileage and the number of consecutive minutes you can run.

Remember milestones are goals so use the same techniques you used to set your goals to set your mini-goals or milestones.

Here is a more concrete example on the 1st of January 2014 I weighed 214 pounds, I was overweight, always tired and super stressed. I decided I wanted to lose the weight. Knowing that I couldn’t just starve myself and that diets are usually not sustainable over the longterm I knew I had to adopt a healthy lifestyle my plan was simple:

Weigh 175 pounds by the end of the 1st of June 2014

How would I achieve this?

My milestones

I tried to be as clear as possible as to what my milestones were and made sure to check them each week.

Conclusion

The vaguer your goal, the more difficult it is to come up with milestones and thus it will be harder to track. It will be impossible to measure your goal until you refine and define what your goal is. As soon as you start seeing a metric or milestone within your goal you know you have something to work with and work towards achieving.

I am using this exact approach in formulating my plan to reach my goal of contributing to Rails, and I will post it in the coming week for all to see.


Discussion, links, and tweets

My name is Deon Heyns and I am a developer learning things and documenting them in realtime. Python, Ruby, Scala, .NET, and Groovy are all languages I have written code in. I appeared in the New York Post once. I host my code up at GitHub and Bitbucket so have a look at my code, fork it and send those pull requests.

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