Random ruminations as I figure out and deal with life, grad school, being an engineer and a product manger; learn more about technology, marketing, economics, news, writing short stories and other stuff that distracts me from doing whatever I'm supposed to be doing....
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Make some resolutions - and then sort them!
While it has always been unfashionable to do so, I like New Years Resolutions — well I like the idea anyway. I’d like them more if I was less unsuccessful actually following through on mine. :-)
The naysayers will complain about the how its an arbitrary date. Why the heck can’t you make those resolutions any day of the year?
You can obviously; but I think there’s something about ritual,s however arbitrary they may seem, that’s powerful. The reality is that we seldom think about taking a minute to resolve what we want to do next, even though we always can. Add in the fact that we know many people around us are doing the same thing makes us more likely to actually follow through on them as well.
Anyway, this year I tried some thing a little different.
I made a list — specifically I made two lists.
The first of things that I was happy about in 2013 and the second of things I wished had gone better last year.
Given my nature, the second list was longer than the first but it still made me realize what a great year 2013 had been for me and my family— both personally and professionally. The second list also made it pretty clear what needed to be on my resolutions list for 2014.
Then I sorted both lists — putting the things that mattered most first and comparing stack ranking both the things I was happy with and wished had gone better.
This actually took longer than writing out the list!
It was also even more useful. It made me realize in a very deliberate way that in most cases my effort-to-how-much-time-I-put-in-or-care-ratio was completely off.
I should be a lot happier on a day-to-day basis that things I care more about are actually going well, and similarly should focus a lot more on the things I wanted most to be much better.
One of the things I do for a living — ranking projects, prioritizing actions and making decisions — that I think I’m actually pretty good at in the context of products — was something I wasn’t doing as rigorously for my own life and certainly not making every decision based on.
The Big Rocks story applies especially to your life.
So if you’re making resolutions — good for you! But to make the most out of them make sure you sort em!
Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.
My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.
She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.
No one did.
The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.
Still nobody moved.
My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn…
I've been really enjoying the Freakonomics podcast of late. This episode and the lesson we should take a away from it, was a stark reminder of one of the most important things we should be doing - but often don't - in building products or making any decisions: measuring the impact of absolutely everything we do, including the things that seem obviously good.
I recommend listening to the podcast if you have the time, but here's the summary. Stephen Dubner describes the Cambridge Sommerville Youth Study. The impact of social intervention programs in general is hard to measure and so they seldom are. This was the first attempt at measuring the impact over a long period of time.
It's a great story and there are a few good take-aways, but here's the main one: troubled or at-risk youth that received mentoring (good mentoring!) had worse life outcomes across every dimension than the kids that were left alone. Despite the recipients saying that the mentoring was incredibl…