When I started to write down my professional goals for 2010, I ended up doing the same things as I did last year; just create a list of things to learn. Looking back over my experiences while attempting to accomplish my goals for 2009, I began to believe that this was the wrong approach. My initial goals were very focused on learning different technologies or hitting certain milestones in general. By the end of 2009, I found that sure I may have hit most of my goals; however, something was lacking.
For example, one of the items that I completely wasn't anticipating becoming so passionate about was the possibilities of MEF. This lead to a large number of rapid fire posts in March on some pretty rudimentary tutorials on the basics of MEF. While I was working on creating these tutorials, I constantly wished I was able to work on the latter posts (the ones that I'm slowly working on currently). It wasn't because I didn't think providing tutorial information wasn't important but being able to provide a better context was. This was also true earlier in the year during my initial F# exploits. Doing tutorials is good but sometimes showing the overall value before the tutorials can provide the basis as to the WHY someone can learn something instead of just the HOW to use it. If you have ever looked into becoming a better speaker, this practice is sometimes described as "showing the sex first". Get a person interested and intrigued first and then provide them the information and tools necessary to run with what you showed.
With this in mind, it's what my goals now resolve around. While I'll be working hard on learning new technologies or tying down loose ends on technologies I haven't fully learned, my focus is going to be on context.
Things I'm focusing on in 2010:
Getting More Involved
I'm a firm believer that teaching is one of the greatest ways of evaluating how well you know a topic. One of the things I discovered a few years back is a passion for presenting and teaching. Combine that with a desire to get more involved in the development community as a whole and it leads to a lot of opportunities. Right now I'm staring at about 4-5 presentations just in the first half of the year to various user groups and code camps all over the midwest. I'm hoping to expand this more by the end of the year. Sure it'll keep me busy and traveling but it's fun and I would am looking forward to meeting a lot of the community leaders at each location. As my calendar solidifies, I'll make sure to update things here.
More Contextual Value on Posts
Looking over the past 2-3 years that I've been writing in this blog, the posts that have the deepest impact are also the ones that provide the richest examples or specific focus. Some of the basic tutorial posts have appeared to be viewed well; however, the some of the posts that took me a significantly longer amount of time to write and develop the samples for have seen the best amount of feedback. With this in mind, I'm going to focusing more on intermediate examples more than introductory posts. The introductory elements will still remain; however, I'm hoping to change the quantity of the two types of posts in order to provide more balance and value to the readers.
Tying up Loose Ends
Last year I worked a lot on learning a number of new tools; however, some of them I only learned enough to understand where they may fit into my current situation (a.k.a. just learning what value is in it for me). This is usually a pretty good way of learning things; however, it can limit the potential. After changing jobs at the end of 2009, being able to reevaluate what I learned last year and expand on such will allow me to adapt better to different scenarios. This also will help me provide even better context when learning other things. An example of this is the fact that while I know the basics of writing in Silverlight, I need a little bit deeper understanding of it so that I can start applying MEF into my Silverlight applications when applicable.
Redefining a Dream
When I started getting serious about my development career, I wondered what I would consider to be my dream job. This idea always shifted with every career progression on my way towards my dream job. Recently, I landed a job that is the closest match thus far and am begin to evaluate the environments and companies I've worked for thus far as well as my current one. While I don't plan on leaving my current employer since I just came onboard and they are a very good company thus far, I'm a person that loves striving for what's next. Perhaps what's next is not a different company but something that augments my day job like getting more involved. Perhaps is back to a more remote working environment. Lots of ideas to consider and think about. Ultimately though, it's the journey that drives me, not what I have currently obtains. Anything is possible as long as you keep dreaming in my opinion.