Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Personal Retrospective - 2012

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to receive a nice "Happy Holidays!" email from someone who I consider to be a career mentor/role-model. In it, he also included a "personal retrospective" - a small list of things he was really proud of accomplishing professionally over the last year or so, as well as a couple of things he was hoping to do or improve on during the coming year. He was also kind enough to ask me to send him a list of my goals and accomplishments for the year.

I was really struck by this. First, by delight that he was interested in what I had been up to. Then dismay, shortly thereafter, when I realized that I had no such list to share with him.

But thinking through it more, I decided that as an Agile practitioner, it's probably something I should be doing. After all, we have retrospectives on every Sprint; why not on a "personal Sprint"? And the start of the new year is opportune timing to reflect on what's transpired over the past year, and to consider all possibilities the coming year brings.

It took me a few days to put it together, but eventually I had my list. Turned out it was a year of "firsts" for me:

That's a pretty decent list if I do say so myself. Not nearly as good as his was, but not too shabby. So what about opportunities? Well, I decided that, in retrospect (see my pun here), I really liked spending time on all of those projects. What changes would help me do more things like those? I decided on the following:

  • I spent about 22 hours a week in meetings last year on average. That's way too high (although I do run 4 teams right now); I want to try to get a day back per week this year.
  • I want to spend more time building things. Kind of goes hand in hand with #1. The open source project helps, but there are so many cool things happening in software right now - mobile development, cloud development, big data! Spending all that time in meetings makes me feel like a spectator instead of a contributor. I want to be able to roll up my sleeves more this year and head into one or more of these emerging frontiers.

So that's my 2012, and goals for 2013. I found this process to be really edifying. I know a lot of people do things like this already, but if you've never thought much about it in years past, consider this my open letter to you. Take some time, make your list, and get to work on those opportunities.

Best wishes on accomplishing them and many other things in 2013!