I know most of us hardly stick to new year resolutions. But I still like making them. It makes me size up my life and think of what I have and what I miss. For this year, I want to –
1. Get Off the Computer
If you’re the typical developer, you probably have all the other parts of your life on the computer too. Your friends are all online. You hobby is probably playing video games. Reading books, watching videos, doing their budget, writing down to-do lists. Almost everything you can think of, you’re probably doing on the computer. When you think of a side project – it’s probably something to do on a computer – writing a blog 🙄 , freelancing as a coder and so on. If you study you’re probably going to take one of the online courses and study on the computer.
Well this year, I want to get off the computer. Of course I’ve already started an online course and I’m writing a blog. But I don’t think those are taking up much of my computer time. Apart from my work, and a couple hours for those things, I think I don’t have to sit at my computer at all. A major chunk of computer time goes for gaming, Facebook, YouTube and Netflix. I can altogether drop those. I resolve to have my entertainment and social life, away from the computer. This means I’ll have to let go of some of the new and the cool. Even for studying and blogging, I’m thinking to partially move them away from the computer. Maybe I can write drafts on pen and paper before I sit to publish it on the computer. I can also study the online course using a tablet, take notes with a pen and paper.
Less computer. More real world. More pen-and-paper.
2. Learn Continuously
This is partially already done because of the nature of development jobs. You just can’t avoid learning. New frameworks and tools pop up every day. Parts of the job are getting obsolete and new parts are getting created. Lines between business and IT are getting blurred. If you’re a developer, the only way you can be successful, or even just survive for long, is if you keep learning new things. This much goes without saying.
But what about the other things? Do you know anything at all besides coding? Have you learnt music or an art? To play a sport? Do you know about economics? Do you know to cook? Pick one or two skills outside of coding, and work on it regularly. Maybe cook food on weekends. Learn a new language (a spoken language – not another programming language). Join a workshop on reparing cars. Practice it by yourself or join a class. Do something that expands your mind. Do something that makes you interesting.
Develop a new skill. Keep improving.
3. Take Health Seriously
Whenever I get pain in my shoulders, neck or lower back, I go through a ‘fitness phase’. I get the pain treated and follow a workout routine for a few days after that. But as the pain is relieved, so is my motivation. Not only fitness, but even looks can become invisible when most of your life is online through a computer. I mean who cares if you’re fat if no one ever sees you right? After two years of living alone as a developer, I have literally become that fat guy who’s only contact with outside world is with the food delivery guy. Literally!
I resolve to take health seriously. Prevention is better than cure. I’m targetting a healthy fitness level, eating good food, moderate regular exercise and frequent breaks for ergonomics. My chiropractor said the best posture is no posture at all. I like the way he put it. You need to move frequently so that you’re not really getting ‘fixed into a posture’ in the first place. That’s the only way to avoid posture related problems.
Do about half an hour of exercise, almost everyday. Include some fruits and vegetables in diet. Do not keep sitting for more than half an hour at a time. Go to bed early – without your smartphone.
4. Give to Relationships
This one is particularly hard for me because I’m a complete introvert. I am truly fine just being single rather than have to put up with a family. I simply hate even just being around people. But I’m resolving to this anyway. Because I’m old enough to know that this is important. Being around people, having face-to-face interactions, depending on and being depended upon, are immensely more satisfying than a lonely-yet-comfortable life. I, like many other developers, have always avoided social interactions with people. I don’t do small talk, I don’t attend ceremonies, I don’t even go to casual meetings at work.
I try to avoid my family as much as possible. Even though I like to spend time with my little nephews, I’d rather not because it would mean I have to be around the grown ups too. I need to stop being such a loner. Wisdom tells me that friends are important, family is important.
Make more friends and invest some time and effort into the ones that exist. Be in touch with family.
There are so many YouTube channels that make you yearn to just drop your ‘normal’ life and become a nomad with a back pack. But that’s simply impractical and unnecessary. Not everyone can (or should) become a full time traveller. But I believe vacations are necessary. They create a disconnect that simply can’t be achieved otherwise. I’m at the end of a two week holiday but doesn’t even seem like I left work. Because I just spent it all at home. Still at my computer. Still thinking about work.
Traveling – without your laptop – actually traveling, acts like a reset for the mind. You don’t have to travel to fancy places or spend a lot of money. Just to a simple place a few hundred kilometers away. Maybe for beautiful views of nature, maybe for spirituality of an ancient temple. Maybe solo, maybe with friends or family. But make it a point to do it.
Travel to a far away place. Atleast 3 days together. Atleast once in 3 months. Create memories.