array(0) { } 2015: A year to grow | Darren James Harkness

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2015: A year to grow

I never make new years' resolutions. They're always too optimistic, with no consequences for failure. I don't know how the next year is going to shape out; it seems foolish to sit down and make a list of things I should or should not do as a result.

That being said, I have seen a great alternative to resolutions that has made me revisit the idea in my head.  The idea is to, instead of creating a set of new years' resolutions, instead pick a theme for the year.  By focusing on a central idea, the argument goes, it's a bit easier to enact change throughout the year.  In my mind, it gives me a focus for my year, and will hopefully help drive any decisions I need to make.

For 2015, that theme is 'professional growth.'

2014 was a year of great personal growth, but one of relative stagnation professionally.  Most of my year was spent catching up on maintenance activities and keeping the lights on across various projects. I tried to branch out a little through learning Swift (and have written some articles documenting the experience), but did so primarily out of personal interest. Otherwise, most of my year was spent applying upgrades from other peoples' software projects, and writing project documentation. I don't feel as though I really grew as a professional, as a result.

I want to rectify this in 2015, as much as possible.  There are three areas of my professional life that I want to build on this year:

  • Development technologies. In the waning months of 2014, I realized that I have not had the opportunity to use some of the more recent web technology, like Angular, nosql databases, or node.js in my work. I'm also woefully behind on modern deployment techniques, like Continuous Integration or git-based deployment workflows, and have much more to learn about automated testing.
  • Leadership / people management. I have spent a couple of years managing small, project-based, cross-discipline teams in the past at this job, and I loved every moment of it.  I am happiest when I'm helping direct a group of people who are smarter and better than me, and helping them get even more clever and resourceful. I want to get there again, and the best way to do so is to build my skills in this area.
  • Communication. I'm an introvert. Given time and the right medium and I'm a very effective communicator.  Put me on the spot, without time to reflect properly, and I need work.  I need to build more effective and strategic communication skills, so that I can start thinking a bit more quickly on my feet.

I don't know how this will go.  I suspect I won't have the opportunity to work with the development technologies I want to at work, given the nature of my organization.  I suspect this will also be the case for leadership/people management - the opportunity for team building at work will be marginal at best.  So I need to find ways to work on these skills outside of work.I have some projects I want to get off the ground, which I'm hoping will let me spend some time growing these skills.  Regardless of whether I complete the projects or not, my intention is to use them as a platform for professional growth. 

I plan on reporting my progress on a fairly regular basis to document my experiences.  I hope you join me here, and @staticred on Twitter.  Encouragement and scolding are both welcome.

Flickr image by Marwa Morgan, used under Creative Commons.