Thursday, January 15, 2015

Personal Retrospective - 2014

I'm going to start my retrospective this year with a quote that I think pretty much sums up what happened between my last retrospective post and this one:

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
-- John Lennon

Now, I don't usually find myself agreeing with most of John's philosophies on life, but this thought really hits home for me when looking back on 2014. At the beginning of the year, I laid out what I thought were some pretty ambitious goals, but I felt like I could accomplish all of them if I made a conscious effort to regularly spend time on each of one.

And then life happened. I had two major and somewhat unexpected events occur that took up most of this time I thought I had at the start of the year:

  1. I got a new job. It shifted me from a management role to a consulting role, which requires much more travel than I was accustomed to.
  2. My wife and I welcomed our second child (a daughter) into the family.

Both have been excellent changes for me and for my family. However, in the scope of this post, they were not so good for my goals that I had set. I still got through 2 of the 4 books I wanted to read. The job change put me back behind the keyboard on a daily basis, so I was also able to spend significant time building things (primarily Web API / mobile projects), but I didn't even consider starting either of the side projects I had mentioned, nor did I spend much time on my existing project. I also didn't really get a chance to do much in the way of coaching after the first few months of the year, although I do feel good about what I was able to accomplish in that short amount of time with the teams I did work with in this capacity.

I gave myself grades on all my goals last year, but I don't think I'm going to do that this year, or going forward. In retrospect (*wink*) I don't think it was a good idea to do it last year either. In essence, you either met a goal or you didn't. Not meeting it is not necessarily failing though; things just didn't work out according to your original plan. There could be a number of contributing factors as to *why* you didn't meet the goal, which is usually where you can learn something and make an improvement.

So having not met most of my goals from last year, what's my takeaway for doing things differently this year? Well, I learned a lot can happen in a year, so I'm going to set fewer goals that are smaller and more defined. Here's what I'd like to accomplish in 2015:

  1. Continue reading. 2 more professional books; 1 business, 1 craft. This is the amount of reading I was able to accomplish last year, and it feels like a good amount again this year. Last year, it was Conscious Agility and Clean Code. This year, I'd like to do Joy, Inc. for sure. For the other, I think I'd like to learn a new programming language. I'm thinking either something in the functional domain (Haskell / Scala / F#) or something in the mobile domain (XCode / Java).
  2. Make 10 blog posts. I really enjoy writing, and didn't get a chance to do much of it last year. I did 10 in 2013, and I think I can do the same this year, only because I'm seeing more topics and content coming along through new experiences in my new job.

I'm optimistic, but we'll see where the year takes me. As always, thanks for reading and best of luck in achieving your personal goals this coming year, even as life happens around you.