I have just spent the most amazing two weeks in my old neck of the woods. One week in my hometown of Port Elizabeth and a week in the most stunning place called Cape St Francis, right on the beach. We have spent some quality time together as a family with most of it been spent on the beach and playing in the waves, and just enjoying the surroundings. This has given me plenty of time to do some thinking about what I want from my life and the principles that I want to measure myself on, both in my professional pursuits and my leisure pursuits.
Be the best
I want to be the best that my potential will allow me to be. Whether this is in my pursuit of becoming a better middle distance athlete, or in my career of becoming a better Software Craftsman. Either way it takes effort and practice to improve oneself.
As part of becoming better at what I do I want to make sure that I am having fun while doing it. If I am not having fun in whatever I am doing, then the situation needs to be re-assessed. If I am not enjoying coding then I will not enjoy practicing in order to get better. Even though I have been on holiday in the most amazing setting, I have still managed to practice my craft by doing a little bit of coding every day. It is not a chore, but something I look forward to when the family goes to have there afternoon nap.
I read a book called Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain shortly after I got back from my sabbatical and it had a marked impression on me around the importance of exercise and how it affects how we function.
If we don’t make an effort our lives become very sedentary, we sit in the car to work, we sit at a desk all day, we sit in a car on the way home, we watch tv and then got to sleep. This gets repeated day in and day out, and before we now it we are suffering from any number of health issues.
My experience is that if you are not disciplined about what you put into your body and how you exercise, when the going gets tough at work this is first to go. And I have had the experience where as my health suffered so did everything around me. So for me being fit and healthy is part of my success and it also needs attention.
Work with like minded people
It is important for me to work with and associate with like minded people. If you see your job as just a pay check, then that does not inspire me. It becomes more difficult to live by ones principles when the people that you surround yourself with don’t strive for similar objectives. I want to discuss the awesome run or bike I had, or I want to have a discussion around some exciting coding technique or technology I uncovered with the people I associate with. I want the people around me to be as excited as I am about what I do.
Continuously learning is very close to my heart. This goes further than just practicing your craft. You need to expand your boundaries by reading on different topics, exploring new technologies or different techniques to accomplish something. Part of my continuous learning is reading a lot and going to Meetups where I can learn from and engage with peers in the field of interest.
Measure success by happiness
Finally I want to measure my success by my happiness. Over the last 18 months I have had the opportunity to re-evaluate many of the principles that drove me before. So for example, job titles are not important to me anymore, sacrificing these principles for a bigger pay check will not happen, working to dead lines that constantly break my principles will not happen anymore.
My job is not a 9 to 5 stint that I despise every day, rather I enjoy what I do and I enjoy investigating solutions to problems, whether at work or at home. There is nothing better than getting paid to do something that you really enjoy doing, essentially your hobby. This is a mindset I hope to instil in my children, in what ever career they undertake, so that their careers will also be something they enjoy doing one day.