My learning goals for 2017

30/4/2017

Each year I try to set some goals for myself to keep improving my skills. At the end of the year it's fun to reflect on the goals I've reached and at the same time confronting because of the goals I didn't complete. This year, although it's already April, I want to do it a little different. To be able to better evaluate what I want to learn this year I decided to write it all down so I could evaluate my progress better. And by making it public there'll be a bit more pressure to actually completing the goals I set.

Books

Ever since starting my development career I kept a list of interesting books I want to read. The list kept on growing and each year I read a couple of books but I felt like I could do more. Last year I got myself an Audible subscription so I could easily listen to more audiobooks. This has helped me tremendous in getting books off my "to read" list. As a result, in 2016 I've read a total of 6 books which is double of what I normally get to. This year I want to do better and listen to 1 book every month. I'm on track for this challenge as I've currently listened to 4 books. You can follow my progress on Goodreads, don't hesitate to add me as a friend there.

Next to listening to audiobooks I mostly have one paperback book that I'm working through. These are usually books that are not available as audiobook or aren't ideal to listen to as an audiobook. Usually these books are seen as "books every programmer should read" like Code Complete 2 or Domain Driven Design. I started reading Code Complete 2 in the summer of 2014, dear god that's 3 years ago, but never managed to get very far into it. So I really want to finish this book this year, I'm currently at page 153.

Goal: listen to 12 audiobooks, finish Code Complete 2 paperback

Blogging

Blogging is something I always wanted to do. I look up the people that write blogpost after blogpost. My first post is published in 2008 but the number of posts has been declining each year. Here is an overview:

  • 11 posts in 2008
  • 11 posts in 2009
  • 8 posts in 2010
  • 2 posts in 2011
  • 3 posts in 2012
  • 0 posts in 2013
  • 1 post in 2014
  • 1 post in 2015
  • 3 posts in 2016

That's 40 posts in 9 years or an average of 4 posts per year. It always surprises me how much effort you have to put in writing a blog post until it can be published. I've read numerous times that the more often you write, the easier it gets. So this year I want to publish 12 posts, each month a post. I've deliberately set a realistic goal to avoid losing motivation. I don't want to be overly ambitious but start slow and publish a post each month. This will be the 3rd blog post of the year so I already have some catching up to do.

Goal: Write 12 blog posts

Articles

I think the last year I've been focusing too much on this aspect and not enough on reading books and publishing articles myself. This is however my main channel of getting inspiration and reading about new frameworks and techniques. I save articles via Pocket and read them on my smartphone or e-reader, that way I can read articles almost everywhere. I won't be setting a goal here, I'll be focusing more on the other topics and will probably read less articles this year.

Technologies, languages and frameworks

Cliche advice but it's cliche for a reason: Learn a new programming language each year. My interpretation is: learn a new technology, language or framework each year. I've started with functional programming by using Fake for build scripts and I'm aiming to get further into functional programming. But I don't have any concrete plans yet in that direction.

I am however going to check out some of the new Javascript frameworks on the block. jQuery with some simple routing has been my go to library for a few years now. I try to stay away from framework hypes and wait until I feel that the framework is mature enough. When I read several different blog posts that a specific framework is worth it I'll try it out myself. I think the time is right to test out some of the new Javascript frameworks and see if there's anything that will make my client-side life easier. I wonder if this is the year I'll be ditching jQuery. These are some tools and frameworks I want to play around with and see what they have to offer:

Meetups

Although it's sometimes difficult to clear an entire evening I get a lot of value out of the meetups I go to. I try to frequently attend them and really love the Socrates and the JSValley meetups. I can really recommend both and if you see me there, be sure to come say hi. No specific goal here, I'm going to try to attend as much meetups as I can.

Conferences

Last year I only attended Valiocon. Going to a conference is always an inspiring experience. This year I won't be travelling that far for conferences. The conferences I'd like to attend this year are Techorama, The Joy Of Coding and Socrates BE. We'll see if I can attend them all three, but you can expect a blog post about all the conferences I go to.

It's been a while since I've been to Techorama, it was still called TechDays and organized by Microsoft, but I remember that it was more a marketing talk for the newest Microsoft products and frameworks instead of focusing on technical content. I heard good things about its successor and hope it won't be a two-day marketing show. But Microsoft has changed course since then so I have good hope.

Conclusion

Looks like it will be a busy but fun year. I look forward in learning those new things, I get a lot of value out. I try to set time aside each week to really go over the stuff I want to read or learn about. To further help me I've also started a Personal Kanban board in Trello to know what the next topic is that I want to focus on. See you in December for the results!