The end of the year is always a good time to reflect on both the previous year and what’s to come. I’ve had several successes and failures along the way.
A lot of posts that reflect on the previous year don’t include failures. I think these are good to include to show a few things. Not only am I not perfect, but I try to learn from my mistakes. Hopefully this type of self-reflection can help you.
What’s Worked This Year
I honestly can’t remember if I wrote New Year’s resolutions for 2017. Which, obviously, means that I did not intentionally accomplish them.
Nevertheless, I did accomplish some pretty big goals this year.
- I became a manager.
- The software and process has gotten better at my job.
- I started this blog.
- I have had some success promoting my blog.
Became a Manager
It’s not in my title (I’m a ‘lead’), but I am acting as manager of a software test team. I still perform engineering and test tasks. That being said, I also do the following management tasks:
- Set the general direction of what each team member works on
- Help with hiring
- Provide estimates
- Set the direction of the team
In hindsight, this is the fulfillment of a goal I’ve had for quite a while. I left my first job for better pay and lack of career advancement. It’s nice to see that I am succeeding with that goal.
The biggest thing I’m doing and hope to do in this role is improve the software process (and create a god engineering culture). There really was not a process about two or three years ago. Now there is one, but it’s still far from where it needs to be.
Better Software Process
The software process isn’t really defined in a document. However, it is more than what existed before. I believe it is getting better.
I’ve heard several developers complain about process. It leaves no room for innovation.
That being said, there’s a happy medium in-between having too much and too little process. Without any process, you spend too many brain cycles thinking about stupid things, like how to backup your source code repositories. That’s certainly something you don’t want your developers thinking about. Much better to allow them to work on tasks where they bring the most business value – writing code.
Started a Blog
This year I started writing this blog, developerautomation. In most jobs, you are not going to be able to influence a lot of people the same way you can with an Internet presence. If I create a good training course or good blog post, I can eventually help thousands of people… or more. Not many companies offer that type of scale (although Google, Facebook, Amazon, and the like come to mind).
The eventual goal is to earn some side-income, and potentially a full-time income, without relying on a job. I have had the goal of being able to work for myself since I was in high school. I still have that goal, and it feels good to be doing something towards that goal rather than nothing.
Successful Blog Promotion
I have promoted my blog through auto-posting my content on Twitter and LinkedIn. I also have guest-posted on Jonathan Bocarra’s blog, FluentCpp. That post was about How Unit Tests Help Your Code’s Intent. I found Jonathan through his guest post on John Sonmez’s SimpleProgrammer website.
I have ranked for a few keywords in Google. I do SEO with the Yoast SEO plugin in WordPress. I did not rank for the keywords I anticipated. It is still satisfying to see me rank on Google’s first page for some keywords.
I also hear occasionally from some former (or current) co-workers about my blog. I appreciate each of you reading this. It is always encouraging to hear from you about enjoying this blog. On that note, if there’s anything you want to hear more about, drop me a line: tim [at] developerautomation.com
While I haven’t spent nearly enough time on marketing my site, I do get several readers that I do not know outside of the Internet. Only 30% or so of my traffic is from the US. I get a fair number from France, the UK, and Australia. That’s really cool!
What Hasn’t Worked as Well
Many New Year’s reflective posts end there. However, not everything went perfectly. I believe it is good to also reflect on things that went not as well so that we can learn from those things. Each of the above successes have come with their own sets of challenges.
- I have not changed as much in the company as I wanted as a manager.
- Blog promotion is slow-going.
- I have not read enough books.
Not Changing a Lot as a Manager
Due to different circumstances, I have not changed as much as I would have liked as a manager. I am always frustrated with how slow it takes to change a company. This goes not just for my current company, but every company. At least the bigger ones. Change always occurs slower than I’d like. (Granted, I like near instant change, or change over a few weeks.)
I have not focused on the big picture as much. I instead have focused a lot on being a software test engineer. I do believe that is going to change, as I see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I look forward to focusing more on the big picture and pushing change this year.
Slow-Going Blog Promotion
It is neat that I have people I’ve never known prior to this blog regularly reading my blog. That being said, I was hoping to be much further ahead than I am now.
I may try my hand at an email list, and perhaps a Youtube channel. It seems like some other successful software blogs get traffic through these channels.
Eventually I want to have premium courses. I know I don’t need to start these until I have much more traffic.
Again, I want change faster than it’s happening. I do have more control over this one than I have as a manager. Changing how quickly my blog gets more traffic is simply a personal effort/planning thing. It doesn’t impact lots of people (at least the work on it).
Not Much Reading
I have not read as much as I would like this year.
This is completely on me. I prioritized watching TV over reading a lot more.
Over my Christmas break, I have read two different books. I enjoy reading, I just often get distracted by other tasks.
I’ve seen several places mention that high performers read many books: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Mark Cuban, and Oprah Winfrey – just to name a few. Many places have lists of books these people recommend. Just imagine – you can read and get the same advice as a highly successful person.
Lots of successful people read a lot. I want to be very successful. It stands to reason that I should read a good bit.
A few quotes I’ve heard (but can’t find right now) and like about reading:
- You can live several lifetimes in one life by reading
- If you’re thinking about buying a book, just buy it. The idea is books are one of the best investments you can make. For $10 or $20, you get some of the best ideas from people that have done lots of research in an area.
If you think about it, the information age (with the Internet) gives us tons of information that we’ll never be able to completely consume. Books and courses give us information we could likely learn ourselves or find for free online. The difference is they save us a great deal of time by getting the best ideas in one manageable chunk.
I suppose this is the place and time where people make resolutions. Although the above may sound like resolutions, I’m not going to make many. I’ve found that they simply don’t work. I don’t commit to them. I flake after a couple of weeks or months.
Rather than commit to resolutions, I don’t need a new year to decide to do something. I’ll focus on the above areas and make progress on them without setting a rigid resolution.
I find that I often fail these and give up.
Instead, I’m going to focus on being grateful every day.
Every day is a new opportunity. And I’m fortunate enough to get the beginning of a new year.
Thank you for each of you that regularly read my blog. I hope I have helped you somewhere along the way.
I hope you have had a good beginning of the New Year. Let’s make a great 2018!