Agile up your life to get what you want
Discard your retirement plan and start living now
The world is moving faster than how it was 10 years ago. Now to think about it, 10 years ago isn’t that long ago. If you’re in your late-20s to mid-30s, there’s also a high chance that in your mind, 10 years ago is the 90s. There’s a mental blimp that a lot of us hasn’t quite gotten used to yet. I make that mistake sometimes too.
Time is moving a lot faster. You notice it more. We’re already halfway through the first quarter of the year and soon it’ll be Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas food bellies all over again. Time escapes us when we’re not paying attention.
That’s why we need to start adopting an agile approach into our lives.
What is agile?
adjective. able to move quickly and easily. — Dictionary.com definition
Agile is one of the most popular buzz phrases thrown around startups, entrepreneurship and software development. The idea itself started in the early 90s when PC computing started to proliferate and become commonplace. However, it took around 3 years for software to be developed and distributed.
3 years is a long time for a business without a single product to sell. The worst part is that if the produced product doesn’t work then it’s a sure death the business. Not only that, 3 years is a long time and a lot can happen and change during that period.
Nowadays, if it takes you 3 years to get anywhere, chances are your destination will probably have already moved. In a fickle and ever-changing landscape, you simply don’t have 3 years to start up something, take eons to develop a product and deliver it.
That’s where agile comes in.
Agile is a mindset that manifests through an unlimited number of practices. There is no right or wrong way of doing agile — only that you continuously deliver in order to gain feedback and results. From this, you re-calibrate as needed based on your discoveries and learning. Agile in business accelerates innovation and helps you figure out what really adds value for your customers.
The benefits of an agile life
When you agile up your life, you become both the business and the customer. Your actions exist to serve your personal growth, happiness, and desires in life. You still have a long term game plan but it is no longer fixed. You become adaptable and more fluid in your approach to life. You discard the old mentality of get a job, work, work, work and then maybe take a holiday. Your life becomes more interesting and you end up doing more than just your usual desk job.
In short, you start living rather than wait until your retirement. In fact, you shouldn’t even be thinking about retirement. You’re still young. You’ve still got energy. There is a whole heap of life and adventures waiting to be discovered. Sure, planning for the future is a good thing but planning for what you’re going to do when you’re not too far away from your deathbed? Now that’s morbid.
When you start living an agile life, you assess your current situation frequently and create changes when required. You become an active force to your own situations and existence. You discover and take ownership of your mistakes, and move forward with the lessons and new knowledge.
How to implement agile in life
While agile originated in software development, it can easily be applied to life. Here’s a step by step guide how.
1. Figure out your backlog
It’s essentially your bucket list split into 3 categories — daily life, little dreams, and long term dreams.
Daily life consists of the things I want to achieve in the current and short term. For me, they’re the things that I want to happen soon.
Little dreams are bigger than daily life and are the things I want to achieve in the next 12 months.
Long term dreams are my long term bucket list. They are the things that I find important but not immediately achievable until I complete the little dreams. This may be due to financial constraints, logistics reasons and other things that impact on the feasibility turning the dream into a reality.
Pick out your top five — two from daily life, two from little dreams and one from long term dream — and work towards that.
2. Plan and implement your sprints
Good planning ensures that things get done — but over planning is the death of action. Sprints in agile are small chunks of deliverables.
My life sprints is a mixture of tasks that contribute to daily life and little dreams category. Some are more flexible than others. Some require a certain amount of consistency to be achieved. Every week, I get to re-evaluate how I did base on my output.
Personally, my sprints look like a series of checklists. I like checklists because it helps me know exactly what I’ve got to do. Each week, I do my best not to deviate from the assigned tasks — but sometimes things come up but as long as I am still aware of the things I’ve got left to do, then it’s alright.
3. Re-evaluate and retrospect on a regular basis
This is one of the most important parts of agile. Re-evaluation and retrospect help you refine your processes and how much you load yourself up on each sprint.
Often, we start the game too eagerly and overload ourselves with tasks. When we fail, we give up or lengthen the sprint. One thing can quickly lead to the next and soon you find yourself further away from your original intended track.
Re-evaluation and retrospect prevent this. It makes sure that you’ve still got your eyes on the ball — or if you need a new ball.
“It is mental slavery to cling to things that have stopped serving its purpose in your life.” ― Chinonye J. Chidolue
We often go through life on a default — accept whatever is happening to us but always complaining about how we want something different. The purpose of agiling up your life is that it gives you purpose and direction that is adaptable to your current and future situation. It sets down a fluid path on which you can walk — with the ability to check and change as needed based on what comes up.
Agile itself may be a business related method but it’s very applicable to your personal life as well. It prevents us from falling into the trap of mediocre misery, helps uncover the path towards turning our dreams into reality and accelerate us towards it.