I’ve talked before about creating a vision for your life and how helpful it can be in assessing opportunities and situations. I’ve also talked about how relevant Agile and Srum are to real life. So, it’s not surprising for me to suggest that leveraging the User Story format to succinctly capture a personal vision is something interesting to explore. Think on this for a moment YOU are the Product Owner of your life. What do you want?
Initially, the story will be too big – Epic sized. That’s OK as long as it’s something you can true back to and captures your vision. Obviously, it will need to be broken down to a Theme or Feature. It’s possible to have one for work, for family and personal. These will also be too big and you will need to break them down further into story size.
As you go through the exercise of creating your personal backlog, remember it’s all negotiable and will shift. You may choose to discard, add and change stories. You may also decide to move things around and change the order up. All of this is to be expected and encouraged. The important part here is you are clear in your ultimate vision – the Epic. This allows you to begin to define your path so you can focus on and use it to make informed decisions. If you have understanding, your “how” will be easier to chart.
I also like the idea of being able to respond to changes as they arise and learning more through emergence in order to refine the vision. It’s a very elegant way to keep your focus on your end goal without letting shifts in the environment bog you down. If you are clear on what you want in your own mind the bumps, turns and surprises of life won’t be as frustrating. It’s something you can share with your “team”. No one goes through life completely alone – no matter how it may seem. And, even if you think you’re alone in your journey, when you share your visions, it’s surprising how people will help you realize it because they know what you’re trying to do.
On my last trip I was asked “What do you think about when you go to sleep at night?” and I was able to respond easily. I think about all the things I need to do tomorrow, next week, next month and so on. The person I was having the conversation with said: “Stop. Tonight, when you go to sleep, think about where you want to be five years from now – what it looks and feels like. Focus on it. Forget about the time in between.”
In short, write your personal backlog. Try not to start with the books you want to read or the classes you want to take. Limit yourself to WHAT you want. You’re the Product Owner. You’re also the product. Own it.