It may have been the coincidental chaos of starting a new job during a pandemic. Or getting thrown into this “new way of thinking” during a time full of change. Regardless of the reason, Agile transformed the way I approached and lived my personal life.
Little-a agile vs. Big-A Agile
Little-a agile is defined by Merriam-Webster as
“marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace”
Big-a Agile draws from this definition and extends it to the world of software development (and more), which is where I initially got exposure to this intentional way of thinking. There are 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto, the ultimate guide to Agile software development. Here’s a breakdown of how they have shaped my personal life:
1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
My highest priority is to satisfy myself and those important to me through proactive and continuous delivery of valuable time and personal effort.
Note: be intentional about where I devote energy.
2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
Welcome changing circumstances, even deep into making a decision or plan. Harness change for my advantage in life adaptability and happiness.
Note: change is the only constant.
3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
Deliver on my personal goals (or steps to get to my goals) frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
Note: it’s okay to break down goals.
4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
I must lean on my community (family, friends, etc.) throughout my life.
Note: be thankful for my people.
5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
Build initiatives and put personal effort into motivated individuals as friends, family, co-workers, etc. Give them the environment and support they need from myself, and trust them to bi-directionally add value to my life.
Note: choose those I surround myself with carefully.
6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and with the important people in my life is face-to-face conversation.
Note: make time.
7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
A working, happy, and motivated mind is the primary measure of progress.
Note: progress doesn’t need to be defined by a checklist.
8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
My way of working promotes sustainable exertion. I (and those close to me who I ask for life advice from) should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
Note: don’t burn myself out.
9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
Continuous attention to execution excellence and good planning enhances agility.
Note: always give 100%.
10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
Simplicity — the art of maximizing (and throwing away) the unnecessary details, worries, and to do’s — is essential.
Note: marie kondo my life.
11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
The best creations, ideas, and goals emerge from my gut, from the things I have learned, and from the people I have learned from.
Note: keep learning and trust my gut.
12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.
At regular intervals, I reflect on how to become a better person, then tune and adjust my behavior accordingly.
Note: step back. reflect. improve. repeat.
It’s funny how much a 12-step “guidebook” (essentially) to iterative software development gave me clarity on how to approach my personal life at such a critical time period. Leaving the constructs of academia, which scarily gave me the guidance and sense of achievement throughout the last 16 years of my life, and stepping into the real world of the never-ending #adulting days was pretty uncomfortable. I had to find new ways to stay motivated that weren’t related to grades or graduation or interviews, as well as better ways to spend all this time I now freely had in the evenings and weekends. It was both liberating and terrifying.
The agile mindset I developed from practically living and breathing Agile at my day job certainly seeped into my personal life during this time. And funny enough, it helped immensely. Who knew that a framework for good, effective, and collaborative development would provide a framework for a good, fulfilling, and community-driven life?
TL;DR here are my 12 principles of life, inspired by the 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto:
- be intentional about where I devote energy
- change is the only constant
- it’s okay to break down goals
- be thankful for my people
- choose those I surround myself with carefully
- make time
- progress doesn’t need to be defined by a checklist
- don’t burn myself out
- always give 100%
- marie kondo my life
- keep learning and trust my gut
- step back. reflect. improve. repeat.