In the past I have tried many ways of keeping track of my goals including writing them down daily, using a mind map, Post It Notes, even trying out index cards and recording them and listening to them while exercising.
I don’t think there is a best system because I think the ideal goal system for each person will have to be built via try, fail, learn, and improve. Also what works today might not be optimal in the future.
My current system is to every day email myself my goals and to dos. To make them stick and to gain more commitment I paraphrase every goal and I also add due dates. I also add easy to dos to feel good and to take steps towards my goals.
I think the paraphrasing is beneficial to me because if I just read the goals I don’t really have to think about them, but if I try to force myself to write them by hand every day that would be too much work and I would quit after a few days. I feel like paraphrasing is a nice balance between commitment, work, and usefulness 🙂
Here are a few tips that have helped me on my journey
- Remember my purpose and long-term goal(s).
- Forget about my long-term purpose and goal(s). Instead focus on the next step, or even just doing a few seconds of the next step.
- Write, read, and paraphrase my to dos and goals regularly. I currently email myself my goals and to dos every day.
- When I feel overwhelmed thinking that there is too much to learn, that technology moves fast, I remind myself that is a great thing. The opposite is an industry or a job that never changes, which is mind-numbing and boring. Also new technology is constantly being created to solve problems better, faster, more easily (in theory 🙂
- When I watch an educational video and think to myself, “How can she/he possibly know all of this?” I remind myself, “It is great that she/he knows this and is teaching me. I can cut down on the learning curve by learning from this teacher.”
Here’s a great article on how setting goals can actually be counterproductive and demotivating: Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.
My personal philosophy is to focus on the process by setting up a system and simply following it. I try to make my system consist of fun and right actions, so that way I can happily achieve towards my goals instead of achieving to be happy. I try to trust the process and see what happens, which lines up nicely with James Clear’s article 🙂
I found this great motivational quote from former NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant:
“That’s what Mamba Mentality is,” Bryant said. “It’s understanding that every day you can work on something, every day you get better, and then you can fast-forward years later and it seems like it was a ‘Voila!’ moment, but you know that patience and perseverance every single day is what got you there.”
I have been using The Pomodoro Technique for almost 2 years now. It has helped me tremendously in being productive and focused.
However, I have only kept track of the number of Pomodori I complete each day. I have never really tracked my Pomodori over the week nor month.
I have modified my tracking by keeping track of the number of Pomodori I complete each month. I keep track of the number of completed Pomodori on a spreadsheet, and I multiply this number by 25. Basically I am tracking my number of focused minutes each month.
But since I need something gimmicky to motivate myself even further, I call these monthly focused minutes Pomodollars 🙂
I recently read this article: The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts Learning.
A few interesting points were made:
Blocking involves practicing one skill at a time before the next (for example, “skill A” before “skill B” and so on, forming the pattern “AAABBBCCC”), in interleaving one mixes, or interleaves, practice on several related skills together (forming for example the pattern “ABCABCABC”).
Overall, the interleaving effect can be strong, stable, and long-lasting.
I am currently learning from Pluralsight courses. I think interleaving works nicely with Pluralsight because the modules are around 30-60 minutes, which can fit into a Pomodoro because I play the videos at 2x speed.
I also feel like I have more fun because I can take several courses at once and finish a module from each course every day. Plus I get the variety of many different subjects, and the repetition when the courses overlap.
I read this interview with competitive programmer Ahmed Aly: Why Renowned Googler Ahmed Aly Chose HackerRank and what really stood out to me was his advice:
Ahmed, what advice do you have for people who want to become great programmers like you?
Don’t try to solve harder problems unless you are really good at solving the easier ones. That means solve a lot of really easy problems (that could be hundreds), that will improve your coding skills, which should be the easiest skill to gain. Then go to little bit harder problems, and so on.
Check out this amazing article which provides the tools and insights to help you climb out the depths of coding despair:
Learning to Code: When It Gets Dark
This post is not really code-related, but I think the motivational principles still apply to coding and other similar goals.
I was watching American Ninja Warrior when I saw Jessie Graff become the first woman to clear Stage One in the National Finals.
I was especially inspired reading some of her quotes:
I was amazed to see how as I increased my strength, I got so much better at everything. Things that seemed hard or impossible became easy. I literally doubled my upper body strength.
If I see someone else do something that I thought was impossible, the fact that they’ve done it and proven it’s possible means that I should be able to do it too
I think what I am trying to express is that to become a code ninja, I just need to tackle one obstacle at a time, and eventually things that looked impossible will become easy for me 🙂
Here is a list of some of the (cheesy) motivational sayings and when I use them…
When I can’t solve a problem and I have to look up the answer… “I’ll get this next time”, “I’ll know this next time.”
When I’m too tired… “I’ll just do 5 minutes, or just a few seconds.”
When I really am too tired… “No more for today, I’ll rest, recharge, and be ready tomorrow.”
When I get stuck… “This means I need to go for a walk.”
When I feel like I can’t do it… “If others have done it, then so can I.”
When I feel like I am horrible, that I am not making enough progress… “I just have to be better than I was before.
“I just have to go from sitting to crawling to my first steps. I can worry about running and climbing later.”