Brand new approaches to software development like Agile and Lean Startup have been used to build incredible products in recent history and their principles have even found their way into the mission statements of some of the most successful companies.
Imagine for one moment that you are a product. Are you relentlessly focused on your users’ needs (your friends, family, coworkers, etc.)? Are you moving fast (e.g. setting short term goals and acting on them)?
Today, I am excited to announce the launch of Me 2.0. Over the course of 2015, I will be taking an iterative, user-centered approach to self-improvement inspired by modern software development frameworks.
It starts with you: You are your own user. Features like health or hobbies directly impact your experience of yourself. A physically fit you is a better product than a not physically fit you because you feel better and live longer. A you that can play guitar is a better product than a you that cannot play guitar because you have more self-worth and can relieve stress easier. If you cannot serve your own needs (to be happy or healthy) then you have failed to serve your most important user.
Your family and friends also have needs as users of you. For them, the family man is usually a better product than the workaholic — attentiveness and warmth over absenteeism. Features like cooking abilities or encyclopedic knowledge of football could also be massive assets to members of this user group. Since we derive most of our happiness (even raison d’être) from our loved ones, this is an extremely important demographic to understand and build features for.
You are probably already tracking your improvements at work. While most companies have formalized objective setting and review cycles, it is important to remember the users here: Your direct and peripheral coworkers, your managers, and your professional contacts. Making sales numbers is a great feature, but knowing how to automate processes that make your managers’ lives easier is on another level.
To guide my efforts in creating Me 2.0, I broke each of these user groups down into subgroups, and compiled a list of general needs for each. For example, friends included my roommates and girlfriend, among others. My roommates want me to be clean, fun, etc., while my girlfriend wants me to be gentlemanly, attentive, etc.
- Short: They are measured in two week increments never stretching beyond a month.
- Easily achievable: They have a low bar and are hard not to complete
- Empirically driven: They are measurable and clear.
- Attacking a small component of a larger objective: If the larger objective is to be a better spouse, then you might have a sprint where you plan a romantic getaway.
- Building momentum through incremental advancements toward a larger objective: If the larger objective is to go to the gym regularly, then you might try a sprint where you only go once every other week and slowly increase this number in subsequent sprints.
- Or testing out something completely new and learning from it: Maybe you never liked reading Shakespeare in school but you want to give him another try. You would do a sprint where you read the synopses of five Shakespeare plays, and decide after if you want to do another sprint to read five more, start reading a play, or give up on Shakespeare.
A traditional New Years resolution for this category might be, “play more music this year” or even, “play guitar three times a week this year.” Naturally, this is incredibly difficult to achieve because it’s not time locked, it’s hard to do anything consistently for a year — I would inevitably give up a month or two in, and not learn anything new.
- Play guitar or piano for five minutes every day for two weeks
- Write and record one song every two weeks for one month
- Record four videos of me playing popular songs for Instagram over two weeks
Throughout 2015, I will be choosing sprints like these to complete on an ad hoc basis, responding to changing user needs and results from prior sprints. You can see a list of all of my sprints and track my progress as I complete them and add more here.
I believe in the power of rapid, iterative, user-centered frameworks for building better products, as they continue to prove themselves over andover again. It is my hope that this year, these same frameworks will prove to be just as helpful in building better human beings.
This article was originally published by Brett Goldstein on Medium