Almost 4 years ago, around this time I wrote about doing new year's resolutions differently. It's funny to look back that far and read about my good intentions in that single post but not reading anymore about my goals that I mention again. This year I'm going to attempt to identify what I've done wrong in the past and do things differently so that I can feel like I accomplish more in the year and avoid insanity.
Lets have a look at the goals I set 4 years ago and see how I've ended up:
What exactly was it that was missing from the goals I set back then? First of all they were too vague. Take the writing goal for instance. The goal that I set didn't provide any specific means for measuring its success or failure. Again, technically I met the goal given that I wrote more than nothing but I don't feel that the goal was met. If I had come up with something more specific like "Write at least one blog post a month" it would've been much easier to measure the success or failure.
The second thing I should have provided for the goals was a time frame for accomplishing them. The "once a month" goal above would've have worked well for the writing goal. Really any timeframe other than "by the end of the year" would've been a big help in preventing procrastinating with regards to the goals.
One last thing that I can think of that would've helped is occasionally checking in to see how much progress I was making towards the goals to see if the goals should be adjusted, if they ended up being too unrealistic or weren't specific enough.
Now that I have these things in mind what goals am I going to set for 2013 you ask? While I have some specific goals in mind but I want to give some time to thinking about what those goals are and put together a plan for how I want to accomplish them. So really my first goal for the year is to come up with goals for the year. Sounds kind of silly but if I take the time to plan them out I think I have a much better chance of accomplishing them in 2013. I'm committing to coming up with more specific plans by Sunday evening (Jan. 6). That's not to say I'm going to have the whole year planned but at least have a few specific plans in mind to get started on.
Hopefully by this time next year I'll be able to look back and feel like I've accomplished what I set out to.
This is a follow up to my Goals for 2013 post from earlier this week.
I've given my goals for 2013 some thought and have come up with some good and reasonable ones. I've tried to make them as measurable as possible so it will be easy to decide how well I'm doing throught out the year. These are mostly related to personal improvement of the usual new years resolution sort. Without further ado here are the goals I have for 2013 so far (obiously subject to change).
There will definitely be others but this is a good start.
While I feel like I grew a lot as a developer at Amazon last year after switching to my new team in December I really want to extend myself this year and learn some new subjects, mostly unrelated to what I do at work. Here are a few books I want to get through:
END GEEK SPEAK
I have two goals in mind:
Most or all of these goals we'll probably do in the Spring or Summer.
Every now and then I'll open up my blog (if you can call it that) to see when the last time I wrote something of use. I've always liked writing, but have been horrible at getting in the habit of doing so. This is clearly the case since I haven't written since early 2013 (more than 5 years ago at this point) and, embarrassingly, was me proclaiming I was going to get "this and that" done by the end of the year. While setting goals is good, I've learned from experience that the goals that I need to set need to generally be smaller in scope and be shorter term. I set a bunch of goals for the year, but those goals weren't broken down into smaller chunks or time frames which made it hard to track my progress with them (not that I was tracking their progress).
In my previous post I wrote about wanting to read a laundry list of books, some technical, some not. The list seems fine enough, but the fact is the mood that I'm in shifts regularly enough that thinking I would be interested enough in those books, whenever I got around to them, was wishful thinking. Especially if I was going to be reading them over the course of the year. Over the last several years I've started to get into the habit of reading one technical book, to read when I have an hour or more by myself to spare, and one non-technical book, to read before bed or while I'm driving (in audio format), at a time. Basically I let whatever mood I'm in drive what it is I'm reading. It seems simple, I know.
With respect to reading, I've been trying to use Good Reads to track my reading progress (using my Kindle) and to keep a list of books that I want to read at some point in the future. That way I should be able to jump straight into the next book, once I've completed one. This is much more visible then keeping all the books I want to read on my kindle and then trying to find the one I'm after. It's not perfect but it's a step in the right direction.
As far as technical books go, my ability to tackle them has been a bit hit or miss, especially now having a toddler running around the house. In order for me to really absorb what it is I've been reading, I need to be able to apply it on a regular basis. There are so many things that I want to learn, but the fact is if I don't come up with a project to apply what I'm learning as I go, I essentially lose it. The books that I've been the most successful with have been those that have a book-long project that is built up and improved as you read the book. Two books that come to mind are:
Both of these start you off with the very simplest knowledge you need to get some basic functionality implemented, and then build on top of the initial codebase, a lot of the times starting you out with less than stellar coding patterns, but backing those things out in favor of more improved ways of doing things once you have the knowledge to do so.
Both of these books I've been able to stick with because the projects are compelling.
I've also found success reading books on those subjects that I use on a daily basis at work. The most recent being Functional Programming in Java. Java 8 introduced lambda functions and functional programming facilities to make code cleaner, more efficient, etc. Because the codebase I was working on was starting to use these facilities, it was important that I be able to use them effectively. It was easy to read a chapter or a half, and then apply it the next day at work.
So what am I doing to try and actually accomplish things that I want to accomplish?
I've only found success with this process once so far, but I'm happy with the results. I have lots of notes written for a number of project ideas to pursue at some point, and also have a mostly finished Alexa skill that provides me some benefit. My hope is to keep working on it until it's fit for consumption by other Alexa-using customers (right now it's hard-coded for just me, but the base of the skill is there and working well).
One last thing. I want to pursue writing a bit more, technically and personally; a journal of sorts. Even if they're only small bits of writing, it's nice to be able to look back and see what it was I was doing at the time, and I'm not super keen on Facebook or Twitter anymore, what with all the privacy-related crap that's been going down.
This was definitely a hodge-podge of stuff and not super organized but just wanted to get something on the books.