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Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

On setting goals

(Personal Development)

As some of you might know, I’ve spent the last month and a bit attending sessions for a “Learn to Run” clinic programme by Running Room in uptown Waterloo. I didn’t have any particular goal in mind when I joined; I just felt like I needed something to do that would get me out of my apartment. I remembered how much I enjoyed running with my oldest sister when we were both in Toronto and thought I could enjoy it just as much now. I was right, by the way.  =)

At tonight’s clinic, there was a lecture about setting goals and creating lasting change. It’s difficult to achieve lasting change because the reason that we are as we are now is because that’s the comfortable rhythm that we’re marching to. Venturing away from the comfort zone to make a serious commitment to change is difficult, but it is something that I’m sure we’ve all had to do at one time or another in our lives and it is probably something we will always have to do. The lecture led me to think about how goals work, how they don’t, and what things are important to keep in mind and I decided to write those thoughts down.

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What I’ve Learned By Writing This Month

(Personal Development)

For almost every single day this month (I missed one due to a running injury), I’ve written a blog entry into one of my two blogs. This is probably more than I’d written in the six-months-to-a-year leading up to November 1, 2010. The main reason I committed to doing this is that I wanted to become a better writer. I previously wrote about how writing is like human persistence, allowing us to transfer ideas from the rather volatile medium of our short-term memory to something more permanent.

Today’s post will be a reflection on the writing that I’ve done this month, which will hopefully help me to continue full throttle through the rest of November. Read the rest of this entry »

Writing is Human Persistence

(Personal Development)

One of many tips for improving one’s creativity is to keep a notebook available to write down ideas as you get them. The rationale behind this is that if you don’t have something to record your idea in the moment you get it, you might forget it by the time you do have something to write it down on. It occurs to me that this might be another sense in which we are similar to computers.

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Take the Reins

(Personal Development)

A few days ago, Jon Crowley tweeted (and I retweeted) a piece of advice that I’ve lately found more and more relevant to my life and the lives of others around me:

@joncrowley: "I'm convinced that the key to failure is thinking of life as something that is done to you, rather than something you do."

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Don’t “fix”, improve!

(Personal Development)

Perhaps it’s a sign that I have incredibly ambitious friends and acquaintances that they are already writing about making the coming year even more awesome than the last. Jon Crowley‘s advice to those who are about to make New Year’s resolutions is not to try and “fix” themselves:

You can’t fix yourself.  You have to rebuild.

Take stock of who you are, where you are, and what has changed about your life and yourself.  And then do the things that will make you happier, make you smarter and better and stronger, and do them because you want to.  No one who is trying to fix a loss, or a heartache, is going to move on – if you do this, you are defining yourself by your tragedy.

This is such an important point that I felt I needed to echo it and add a bit of my own experience to it.

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Life advice in code

(Personal Development, Programming)

Live & Code has been largely about programming and life lessons. So, you can imagine that I was incredibly delighted to see these two combined in a small exchange on Facebook started by Reginald “raganwald” Braithwaite.

Life Advice in Code (raganwald)

Self-esteem expressed in Ruby

It’s a valuable life lesson made incredibly concise in my favourite programming language, Ruby. I leave the interpretation to the reader. It relates to some themes that I’ve already written about before and will probably write more about in the future.

“So… what do you do?”

(Personal Development, Programming)

I think that this is a dreaded question for many programmers and others in fields with a scientific or mathematical bent. How do you explain the full extent of what it is that you do and why it’s valuable without being dismissed as just another creepy nerd? How do you fight the stereotype of unkempt basement-dwellers living with their parents, spending most of their time on the Internet because they’re too socially awkward to interact with people in other settings?

About a week ago there was a discussion about this on programming Reddit. The original poster, a programmer, feels a sense of inferiority because while others can succinctly explain the “awesome” in what they’re doing, he cannot. I sympathize with this sentiment. I love what I do but how do I transfer that passion without drowning the other person in the technical details? It feels like without the finer, technical details, my job description becomes distilled to “I make websites.”

Really? That’s it? That’s what I do for a living?

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Don’t Be Sad, Be Awesome Instead

(Personal Development)

When I get sad, I stop being sad and be AWESOME instead. True story.”
— Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris), How I Met Your Mother

I think that this is an incredibly inspirational line. While it seems kind of silly to take advice from a television show, I think it makes an excellent point: it is the times when you are at your lowest that you must put in your absolute best. Energy spent being worried and sad can and should be reallocated to taking action and facing the very things that are bringing you down.

And really, all else being equal, being awesome is much more, well, awesome than being sad.

On self-acceptance and the drive to grow

(Personal Development)

This was originally published as a Facebook Note on January 28, 2009.

Sometimes, it seems like it is impossible to reconcile self-acceptance with the desire to grow and improve. After all, if you accept yourself as you are, what reason do you have to grow? And so, we might compromise one way or the other. I’ve found that I push myself really hard to improve and often don’t fully accept myself as I am. But do self-acceptance and growth really need to be mutually exclusive?