The Importance of Setting Goals
One of the last tasks in my final year at university was to create my 1 year, 5 year and 10 year goals. We had an entire course on life skills and, goal setting. I remember the lecturer drumming into our heads that goals had to be created using S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) principles.
Recently, while doing some spring cleaning, I came across the page on which my goals were written. Surprisingly, most of those goals came true. Even the ten year ones. This goal setting thing must really work!
So I decided to write down my goals for 2009 and track them throughout the year. These are not all my goals. Some goals I prefer to keep private. Before listing my goals, let me recap the S.M.A.R.T principles.
Goal Setting Principles
1 . Specific
Avoid goals that are vague or ambiguous. Goals should be clear and specific. For example, if you plan to lose weight, a goal of “I need to lose weight this year” is not specific enough. A better way of stating it is “I need to lose 10 kg’s in 5 months this year”. Your goals should also be stated in the positive. The way you think about a goal makes a huge difference.
In order to track progress to your goal, it needs to be measurable. Being able to measure progress keeps you motivated. Some goals are easier to measure than others though. For example, it’s easy to track your weight loss but much more difficult to track improvements in personal relationships.
This means that the goal should be realistic and achievable. Planning to lose 50 kilo’s in 1 week through diet and exercise is clearly not achievable. Planning to be richer than Warren Buffet within a year is not attainable if you relying on blind luck.
A good goal should be relevant and meaningful to you. This helps with motivation. If the goal is not relevant, why are you doing it? Look at each goal in your list and ask yourself this question. Why do you want to do it? What difference would it make in your life if you achieved this goal?
Each goal should have a deadline associated with. This creates a sense of urgency and helps to weed out procrastination.
My goals for 2009
Now that we have that out of the way, lets list my goals in no particular order.
1. Increase Touch Typing speed to 50 wpm, with an accuracy of 98%, by June 2009
After read this blog post on Coding Horror, I was inspired to learn touch typing. That post gives you a whole host of reasons why you should be touch typing. I’m hoping that an increased typing speed will make frequent blog posts a breeze.
I’ve already signed up for a free online touch typing course. My typing speed before starting these lessons was 48 wpm with a hunt and peck method of typing and 16 wpm using all 10 fingers. I plan to reach a speed of 50 wpm touch typing with an accuracy of 98% by June 2009.
2. Learn Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) by March 2009
WPF, Microsoft’s latest technology for GUI’s, is a quantum leap ahead of the UI technology that came before it. In a couple of years, most if not all windows applications will be using WPF for their interfaces.
WPF is a paradigm shift from the usual method of designing interfaces. Instead of creating a GUI by dragging and dropping visual components onto a canvass, you create the interface entirely in XML. Sounds cumbersome, but works surprisingly well in practice. My aim is to teach myself WPF by March 2009 and start writing those applications I always wanted to write.
An example of the type of interfaces I want to create can be seen in the photoSuru application - a screenshot of which is shown above.
3. Learn Symbian C++ by April 2009
The closest I got to writing a mobile application was a small “Hello World” application. This year I plan to make use of the processing power of the Nokia E71 and write all those mobile apps I really want to write. By April 2009, I should have a clear understanding of the programming stack.
4. Improve my memory (by learning memory mnemonics and other techniques) by September 2009
I’ve always been fascinated by magic and mental-ism. My two favourite performers are Derren Brown and Marc Salem. So it was natural that I would end up buying the books they wrote ( in the vain hope of becoming a master mentalist just like them).
Marc Salem's Mind Games: A Practical Step-by-step Guide to Developing Your Mental Powers: Marc Salem: Books
Tricks of the Mind: Derren Brown: Books
Realistically though, I don’t even come close to mastering the necessary skills mentioned in these books. Mainly since I have the attention span of a goldfish. But the memory trick mentioned in both books does seem like a worthwhile and practical skill to have. So my 4th goal is to improve my memory using the techniques from these books. I want to be able to memorise half a deck of cards by glancing at each card once. I should be able to this by September 2009.
5. Create 2 robots, one simple and one intermediate, by December 2009
Nothing beats the satisfaction of creating something that makes other people go “Wow!”. Well at least for me. I plan to create one BEAM robot and one Arduino based robot before December 2009. Nothing fancy and innovative. I will mostly copy designs other people have come up with.
And in conclusion
Well, there you have it. My goals are a mixture of most of my interests. There’s some personal development, some programming and some hardware hacking. I’ll be using this blog to track progress and this should help with last years goal which was “ I will blog more frequently!”.