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Inspirational Nugget of the Week
Have a Personal Retrospective
When was the last time you consciously took some time to think about your life? About your goals, your dreams, your work, your family? About what works and what doesn't? About the things that you love and the things that you don't enjoy (but keep on doing anyways)?
I bet that's been some time ago (if ever). But, if you're working in an agile context, I bet you have done a similar thing at work: a retrospective.
No one I know questions the value of a well-run retrospective in software development (or more general: in knowledge work). During a retrospective, we analyze what went well and what didn't and adjust our practices to improve in the future. We also check in on the team atmosphere and again, adjust to improve it in the future. The goal is to improve different aspects of our work life.
Many people see the value in doing regular retrospectives at work because it improves the team's work life. It's not a big stretch to assume that a personal retrospective (with you as the only participant) will improve your personal life. So, why aren't you doing it?
I suggest to take 30 minutes every now and then to just sit down and think about your life.
Think about the goals in your private and work life. Which goals have you achieved and which goals do you want to achieve, yet? Are your goals still worthwhile? Life changes, so you shouldn't stubbornly stick to goals just because you had set them for yourself a year ago. Having clear goals will give you a framework to make decisions in and reduce your stress level, because they give your mind certainty, and certainty is calming (read "Measure What Matters" for more details, although it's targeted to company goals instead of personal goals - here are my notes).
List the things you've been doing and the things you should be doing. Is there a difference between the two lists? What should you start doing and what should you rather stop doing to achieve your goals?
Think about the things in your life that put stress on you. Is there anything you can start or stop doing to decrease that stress? Just thinking about your stressors may even reduce stress-induced pain like back pain or head aches, because the pain is often just created by the brain as a distraction from the stress. If you explicitly think about your stress, the purpose for that pain is gone and it will fade (read "The Mindbody Prescription" for more details).
These are just a couple of ideas on what you could do in your personal retrospective.
The takeaway is that a bit of quiet thinking time can have great effects. You are giving a lot of your time to other people and to useless activities. Take some of that time to have a personal retrospective every now and then to improve whatever in your life needs improvement.