Friday, December 30, 2011

For 2012, I Pledge to Gain Weight

This year will be different. I am going to oscillate through various diet and exercise programs until I am 20 pounds heavier. I am going to eat more salt, and wait longer to reply to emails and voicemail. I know these don't sound like good goals, but I have so badly underachieved my resolutions over the past several years that if I miss these by the same degree - I’ll lose weight, lower my blood pressure, and be more responsive to my customers.

I don't know about you, but New Year's Resolutions are not one of the glory spots on my life's accomplishments list. I have tried every manner of resolution, including the resolving not to make any more resolutions. I am tortured by the knowledge that my resolutions tend to morph as the year progresses to a point that they are impossible to fail. For instance, I start the year with:

  • January 1: I resolve to lose 25 pounds before April 1
  • Later, this becomes: I will lose 10 pounds before May
  • Which morphs into: I will endeavor to lose weight sometime this year
  • By late mid-summer: I will eat better and try to exercise (note how any mention of weight loss has slipped right off the list!)
  • Which denigrates into: I will eat.

Around about October 1, I take the last quarter of the year to deliberately over-indulge my eating psychosis and accept my exercise phobias and inundate my system with toxins so as to purge my body of any healthy desires. This sets the stage for my weight-loss resolutions which I will start, of course, next year.

Keeping resolutions is tough even though we know we are merely resolving to do what we ought to be doing. I cannot count the number of times I committed to inserting comments into my application code, or (gasp) a script file. I figure I'm going to meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates and be reminded that there are, oh, about a billion and three configuration settings I promised the gods I'd document once I found "The One" that fixed my system.

We work in a tough business; Information Technology; always under pressure for faster times to market, better performance, more functionality, and fewer bugs. Somewhere in the back of our minds we know that if we slowed down, spent more time on design, documented-, tested-, and refactored more; our products would have fewer bugs, perform better, be easier to maintain, and require less after-production attention. We know it, we absolutely know it.

So what stops us? Is it an innate desire to work weekends, get paged in the middle of the night, do we actually want to be tied to a job simply because no one else knows the secret bits to twiddle?

Have we become so addicted to the illusion of progress, that the appearance of effort has replaced actual productivity.

Just once this month, resolve to do something right that has previously been passed over because it took too much time. Do it right, and never, ever have to do it again.

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