Building good habits is the key to building a more intentional life. We begin by defining the kind of person we want to be. If we intend to become a better developer, we must define what that means to us. I like the exercise I picked up at a Stephen Covey seminar I once attended. Imagine yourself at your wake (or some end of life celebration) and choose a number of people to speak. Who would they be and what would you want them to say about you? That becomes the blueprint for the type of person you want to become. For example, let’s imagine that you chose your kids to speak and say that you were the best parent in the world. One of your goals would then be to become a better parent.
Unfortunately, goals are not enough. How do you get there? One way is to build habits that shape your behavior. To become a better parent, one habit you could define is to spend at least 15 minutes talking with your kids every day. Just talking. Nothing else. That may not seem like much but over years of time, your kids would remember that they talked to you every day of their lives. That would make a powerful impact.
Let’s say that you want to become a better software developer. What does that mean to you? Who would speak for you and what would they say? Would it be your manager or co-worker or customer or someone else? Would that person say that you were smart, clever, fast, or a great mentor? Depending on who says what about you would define what a better software developer means to you and that it is what is important. I’ll talk more about building good software developer habits in a future post.