New Year's resolutions: A list to evade technical and personal debt

Technical debt is hard to fix for any kind of system. It becomes more complex and the cost of fixing it in the long-term could be devastating.

A personal debt is even harder. Spending time on things that don't have a true benefit in yourself may end on a variety of diseases, high stress or regrets about decisions made in the past. Having a life with many activities due to business, family or personal tastes needs to be managed in order to be sure you are spending time on yourself the right way. You can have many projects, but you only have one body, one mind.

As a technical person involved in business, startups and different active projects, last years I have found very challenging to achieve little but meaningful goals related to myself. This is a list I have created before starting 2015 as my new year's resolutions to be followed. One resolution representing each month of the year to balance my personal and professional life:

  1. Stay healthy steadily.
    Do some exercise, walk when you can, run 30 minutes per day. Try to not eat on restaurants; instead cook your food, save money and prepare them in a healthier way. Meditation is another way to stay healthy. You only have one body and one mind, take care of them.

  2. Read at least 1 book per month; 12 books a year.
    From novels, fiction to technical books, there are a lot of books out there talking about many things. For knowledge or distraction, commit and read 10 pages per day and that would be fair enough to complete the goal of 12 books a year.

  3. Share more, write more.
    It is good to read, but at the same time it is good to write. Some social networks are a great place to share feelings or to make some experiments before doing a more formal written. If you don't have a blog, create it and start sharing about the things you really care. Writing your thoughts can be a great way to receive feedback and start conversations with people in the same page as you.

  4. Execute a new tech side project.
    For hack, fun and/or profit, look for a new project to build and think. The best way to dominate a tool and constantly learn about it is with a purpose in mind. Set that purpose, organize your time to approach it during free time or weekends, stick to it and finish it.

  5. Do more with hardware.
    Hardware is again a big thing. In the past if you talked about hardware was almost impossible to execute a project due to prototyping costs, tedious software-hardware communication, and poor documentation available on the web. Now it is a trend again with many advantages. You can find a drone in almost every corner and you can buy one of those in any store. Or what about the Internet of Things and the way any kind of device can convert dark data into big data to play with it. Wearables are something we are now dealing with, such as the Pebbel Watch and many other devices coming. It is imperative to be part of the hardware party.

  6. Save a fixed amount of money per month.
    While having money in your hand or in your credit card is hard to stop spending it unless you get to the point where literally there is no more money to spend. In recent months I made an experiment of saving an specific amount of money per month, for instance, an amount that I would use it in the future for long-term purposes. What I strongly recommend is not to depend on withdrawing money and save it, instead use it wisely like spending less money in street food, have a constrained budget for partying, or simply know where to spend the money and where is not worth it. This resolution is great because you can match it with the previous resolution of staying healthy because you can spend money to cook for yourself in a better way.

  7. Embrace the arts; learn or play more a musical instrument.
    If you already know how to play a musical instrument, continue to do so and do not loose the habit. If you want to take that quality to another level, learn a new musical instrument. This applies whether you already play or not an instrument. The process of learning a new musical instrument is just magic and wonderful. Get to know different instruments; if you already play a strings instrument, learn a wind instrument or viceversa. Understand the differences between the instrument you already played and the new one, or just realize how the music happens. In my case, music has always been a great distraction, and I don't what would be of the world without it. To hear music is great -- while driving, traveling or working -- to produce it is simply amazing.

  8. Learn a new programming language.
    Play with different paradigms. Try to build similar things that you have tried in your favorite languages with others. Get deep into the logic and empathize with the creator(s), try to figure out how it's everything working. Do some benchmark with functions and have a different options to solve a future problem you would face.

  9. Contribute at least in one open source project.
    The dynamic happening in open source projects is really exciting. Being part of a distributed and self-organized team can help to gather interesting knowledge about software development aligned with conventions and quality attributes. Be kind.

  10. Learn a foreign human language.
    There are many benefits of learning a foreign language, feel free to explore it with many tools available on the web such as Duolingo, Verbling or others. This can help you to make new friends or doing business in the future, but definitely the great benefits are for your mind, for example the possibility of multi-task or boosting your brain power.

  11. Take long vacations.
    Being busy and with lot of tasks, is normal to forget about a time called vacations. Plan a decent amount of days to clear your mind and be free of your daily activities. Travel with no technical devices, active email, laptop or any other element associated with work. 1 week or more days in a random period of the year could be a great option.

  12. Listen more podcasts.
    Podcasts are a great source ok knowledge these days. There are plenty of options with a variety of topics and interesting people involved in the discussion. Take advantage of death-times while you are driving, in public transportation or while you are cooking.

It can be easy to share a list like this, the hard part will be to track progress and evidence the positive changes of doing the resolutions. I found very helpful to combine Gidit for my personal activities and for business elements and track them every single day. Other great approach is to have all resolutions in Evernote with every detail and follow up them with the Objective and Key Results (OKR) methodology. Every single resolution is an Objective, and the way you are going to achieve it is with the Key Results. A monthly retrospective to assess the results could work.

These are some of the resolutions you can replicate, adapt or probably take as inspiration and define a new one for your own life style.

The beginning of a new year is a great excuse to start new personal rituals from scratch or reinforce those already started. Try to be clear with your goals from the very beginning and find the best way to track them in terms of progress in order to have a productive and exciting year at the same time.

Have a wonderful 2015!