Agile Life Planning: Managing Personal Goals with Agile

Agile Life Planning: Managing Personal Goals with Agile
Where can Agile be useful?

Agile is not only a catchword and or just a set of software development principles. I believe that agile development methods, among other things, provide a wide range of tools and excellent capabilities for managing your personal goals, personal growth and success.

Agile-Life.pngAgile is focused on developing working software, one that actually satisfies the needs of consumers. The Agile concept is not aimed at creating something planned, that nobody needs anymore. On the contrary, the main approaches used in agile processes focus on a constant clarification of priorities, gathering feedback and comments, and continuous improvement of both the development process and the final product.

The same is also very important for your personal planning - setting and achieving your goals. The world around us is constantly changing, and therefore you need certain adaptive methods for managing and controlling your activities. You need approaches that enable you to quickly respond to changing priorities, circumstances, and constraints. Agile planning will help you to always have a clear view of your current objectives and smoothly adapt your ways of achieving those objectives if something has changed.

In this article, I would like to share my own concepts of goal setting, action planning, and achieving results with Agile techniques. This approach means applying the best and most effective principles, tools, and practices of IT in the area of personal planning. I call this approach Agile Life Planning. I will discuss Agile Life Planning in a series of posts and articles: we will separately review all the stages of managing goals, from their definition to the analysis of achievements and correction of mistakes. This article deals with the key ideas and principles of Agile Life Planning.

Agile for IT

Since Agile is primarily a concept for a family of development processes, which are practical and focus on dealing with goals we will look at the methods and tools (for example, Grooming, Decomposition, Prioritization, Estimation) of methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, and Lean.

First, we will go into the details of the Agile values and principles that are used in IT. I am not going to reproduce the wording of all 12 principles; you can find them at The Agile Manifesto. But I would just like to remind you of the main values of Agile for software development. There are only four:
  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

Agile-Principles-for-Life-Planning.jpgTo summarize, we can see that Agile software development focuses on an actual and up-to-date product, on getting and using feedback, on building communications and motivating the participants in the process. Agility also means continuous process optimization, using and combining various tools, as well as team building.

Let us now look at how we can apply these principles, values and specifics of software development in persona goal management.

Agile Principles for Life Planning

As an analogy to the Agile Manifesto, I propose a kind of Agile Life Planning Manifesto:

The Three Values of Agile Life Planning:

  1. Achieving a correct goal over achieving a goal the correct way
  2. Readiness to change over fulfillment of a predefined plan
  3. Faulty actions and experience over faultless planning
The Ten Principles of Agile Life Planning:

  1. Live up to your values by regularly and quickly achieving your own goals.
  2. Welcome changing goals, even if they appear later on your road to a previous target.
  3. Review your current goals and intermediate results regularly and frequently.
  4. An important part of achieving success is individual motivation that depends on values, therefore goals must comply with values.
  5. Achievement satisfaction is the primary measure of success.
  6. Stick to a constant regularity in the processes of planning, performing tasks, and analyzing results.
  7. Everything that looks simple works; everything that looks beautiful works effectively.
  8. Minimizing the amount of redundant actions and continuous improvement of skills are essential.
  9. The best results are achieved through self-organization and working to your full capacity.
  10. Alternating or combining different methods and tools increases the performance.
This list of values and principles is a basis for managing your own goals. It will help you make a decision and select different options.

Agile-Life-Planning.jpgThe Main Stages of Agile Life Planning

Here we will show only the planning stages and objectives of each stage. In subsequent articles, I will describe in detail all the steps, approaches, and tools of Agile Life Planning, and discuss a set of Agile practices which can be used for each of the stages.

Stage 1. Define and set high-level goals.

Stage 2. Detail the goals and make a road map of achieving them taking into account all interdependencies and conditions.

Stage 3. Update the list of goals and objectives regularly, add new ones, and reject some.

Stage 4. Plan short-term, strategic actions, tasks, and projects regularly.

Stage 5. Analyze the results of task that are fulfilled and achievements, and use the outcomes for your performance optimization.

On the one hand, Agile Life Planning will help you see a general picture of your goals and objectives, and on the other hand, it will enable you to adapt it quickly according to current changes. A need for correcting your goals may be caused not only by external factors, but also by the change of your inner motivation, which is an absolutely normal thing. Often, the longer you are on the road to your initial goal, the more details and other opportunities you can see. Sometimes, your previously global life goal becomes just a target in your new monthly plan. In such situations, Agile Life Planning provides you with a wide range of tools and methods that help you continue your development constantly as you grow personally and your values change.

Pavel Novikov 
Program Manager

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