The betterment bonus - a different kind of new year's resolution Over the past few months here at dt, we’ve been internalizing the concept of Continuous Betterment. The idea is that having this ingrained as a standard operating procedure of our team empowers us to function in the absence of a concrete set of to-do’s, and still be moving in the same direction – kind of like a north star by which we can all navigate. At this point, any one of us can look at a project, or product, and simply go about “making it better”, without needing instructions – it’s a pretty cool feeling! A couple of weeks ago, our designer Jessica Moon wrote a great post about the snowball effect of continuous betterment – or rather, how an ongoing process of incremental improvements builds on itself over time. In it, she asked a very important question: this new year, what would happen if we skipped the tired old tradition of resolutions and instead established a practice of betterment in our lives? Apparently that question resonated, and we decided as a team to answer it. In the dying days of 2011, we gave each member of our team one extra vacation day, a budget of $1,500, and a challenge: pick one thing that you’ve always wanted to do, and tell us why it would make you better – permanently.

The Rules

The Ideas

We’ve had some killer ideas come in, so we thought it might be interesting to share some of them.

Jason | Product Manager

“I’ll always remember the day I first got in trouble at school. I was 7, and put in detention for repeatedly making faces at my teacher. Turns out, I was squinting, because I couldn’t see the board clearly – I’ve been entirely dependent on glasses & contacts since then. For my betterment bonus, I decided to get LASIK surgery, because I’ve always wondered what it’d be like to clearly see the world with my own eyes, especially now that I work in design. I can’t wait to see the world in HD!”

John | Developer

“My choice was to take piano lessons. I have always wanted to do it, but really never had the resources. I have always had an appreciation for music, and used to play a few instruments in the past. Still toot away on a penny whistle every now and again. Music helps me relax, and reduce stress. Apparently empirical evidence shows that it can help improve coordination and memory, as well as fine motor functions. Also, I have a few friends and family that play music, and being able to jump in and “jam” would be awesome. Piano lessons also are really great for children, and so I see it also as an extra benefit to have something to share with my kiddo – maybe get some dad points!”

Jessica | Designer

“I’m going to New York City to immerse myself in the arts. Carnegie Hall, New York Phil, Broadway shows, Japanese Cherry Blossom viewing at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, MOMA, MET, etc… It makes me better because the exposure offers an endless amount of inspiration for me to draw from for the rest of my life. I get my best inspirational bits from the little things in life and I know that my NY trip will definitely fill me up for a good couple decades.”

Brian | Developer

“I’ll be heading out this summer to ride motorcycles across Italy. I’ve always wanted to get my motorcycle license, and I’ve been dying to go to Italy (where my mom’s side of the family immigrated from). I’ve also never been out of the country, so it’ll be a trip of firsts. I’ll be signing up for motorcycle lessons here in the states, and spend a few days renting bikes to get the hang of it.”

Dave | Developer

“My wife and I are taking a trip to Washington D.C. in August for our anniversary. We chose Washington for a few reasons, namely that it’s the seat of our nation, filled with history and I’ve never even been to the east coast (let alone the capitol). We had been planning on taking a trip like this already, but that was going to be a few years off. This betterment bonus has given us a great opportunity to enjoy this trip now.”

Jamie | Developer

“I’m heading to Vegas with my wife! It sounds like a party, but to be honest I’m not much of a party-guy or gambler. I’ve never been to Las Vegas and droves of people have told me that I have to see it. In the spirit of betterment, I am hoping that Vegas makes me appreciate scale and makes me think to myself “I didn’t know that was possible/I didn’t know you could do that”. Craft is also a big part of UI design and UX in general and from what I’m told, a lot of the experience in Vegas is very crafted due to the high demands of the tourists and the exorbitance of the place. While there I’m also going to see two cirque du soleil shows in an effort to bend the mind and again, make me think “I didn’t know that was possible!””

Dan | Designer
“I will be going to Oahu to go surfing on the North Shore. The North Shore is arguably the best surfing in the world. It is something that I’ve always wanted to do. Traveling to new places makes you better, experiencing something that you’ve always wanted to do makes you better, challenging yourself makes you better.”

Pretty awesome, right? We’ll be sure to post the presentations as they come in over the course of the year, but in the meantime, tell us: how would you like to permanently better yourself this year?