According to this post, I rate 2019 as a Failure. Of the books I planned to read, I read 2. I started 2 others, but they’re in progress, even right now.
This post is a look at what happened and why, along with a few ideas on what to do better in 2020. Look for the new goal post next week.
The Challenges of 2019
This is really a set of excuses, or at least it sounds that way to me. Ultimately, I just didn’t focus on my career very well. I’m somewhat hoping that doesn’t matter, but I’ve tried to live by “hope for the best, plan for the worst.”
I started out strong with my reading, going through these books 3-4 times a week at night, practicing with some code. It was a nice break after work or after the gym to learn something. Despite coaching and being busy with my family, I was making progress.
That failed in March for a couple reasons. One, I was struggling with a project in my life that needed time and two, I committed to deliver some content for another vendor. Those items created a lot of stress, and reduced the energy I had for career time outside of work.
Add to that the amount of travel I did in 2019. I spent a lot of time on planes, going over 140,000 miles from April to November. While one would think that sitting on a plane is a good time to read, it’s not a good time to learn for me. For a number of these topics, I need to be in front of a PC, and often on a plane, I don’t. I want to relax and escape. If I work, it’s because I need to, and then I’m writing or reviewing something for work.
I had planned to skip a few months of reading work, and even wrote about this. However, I never got back to this and I got used to dismissing my reminders to check goals. That was a mistake on my part.
I also got distracted with other technologies, doing more work with containers last year, which is OK, but it wasn’t part of my plan, and more importantly, I didn’t update the plan.
Doing Better in the Future
How can I do better in 2020? That really starts for me this week, with my return from a sabbatical.
First, I need to keep a plan handy. This year, I’m going to put the plan in my reminder appointment, and that way I can review it each time the reminder comes up. I’ll also be able to adjust it and write a post that reflects the updates.
That’s the second thing. Each update needs to include the plan and progress indicators. I’ll do that, if for no other reason than to understand where I am. I don’t mind not making the goals, but I want to know and decide to not make them for good reasons.
I also need to account for the fact that I am a busy person and some portion of my schedule is out of my hands. I think aiming for 4 books a year is realistic for me, with 6 being the likely goal. I do get busy, and I realize that part of why I love reading is that it takes me away from life. I need to account for the need to spend time reading non-technical books.
I also think I need to better think about the things I do outside of work and career. I have a lot of interests, and those things need time. That means less learning for me.
I also think about the need to cement some of this learning in other areas, so I’d like to actually add in some project work that uses skills I’ll work on. I think that’s important, and like many of you, my work doesn’t always give me the chance to use new skills. To ensure I do capture some learning, I likely need to actually build something.
I’m not sure how things will go, but I plan on creating goals now and then writing an update every month.