My 2013 Non-Resolutions

January 21, 2013

I’m generally not much of a New Year’s resolutions kind of person. In part, this is because I believe that if you’ve decided something is worth doing, then it’s worth starting today, not on some arbitrary date like January 1st. So instead of resolutions, this is the second year in which I’ve decided to put forth some work goals. If you have a conventional job–one with a boss and an office, then you probably have regular work reviews. You sit down with your supervisor once a year, perhaps around the anniversary of when you were originally hired, and discuss how your year has gone and how you can improve. Working for myself, there’s no similar review process for me. And, to be frank, although I’ve been working for myself for almost 14 years now, I’ve only recently begun actively thinking about what I am doing, what I should be doing, and what I hope to be doing. And so, I present to you my 2013 non-resolutions: my work goals for the year.

One of my goals for last year was to begin self-publishing a book on the Yii framework, and my first goal for this year is to finish that book. I haven’t been able to write as quickly as I would have liked, which is largely due to all the other responsibilities with self-publishing beyond writing:

  • Creating the initial Web site
  • Integrating PayPal (which is a pain)
  • Learning how to output the book in different formats (PDF, ePub, and MOBI)
  • Figuring out the update process
  • Responding to feedback, errors, suggestions, and such

This last act takes a lot of time, a lot of time! But the feedback and reader interactions are extremely valuable. I could have opted to write the whole book and then start selling it. Doing so would have taken some of the pressure off, but people would still be waiting for me, just without a partial book in their hands. And getting user input while I’m writing it has been terrific for me as the writer, and certainly will make for a better book. Anyway, my primary goal in 2013 is to write the first draft of the book, which I hope will be completed by the end of March. Then I’m going to need to address: translations, a print version, and an update for Yii 2. Those will all be easier hurdles by comparison.

In terms of other goals, last year I gave four presentations:

I’d probably like to do at least a couple of presentations this year. I’d happily go back to True North PHP, if they do that again and I’m invited. When I was in Boston, there was discussion of having me speak at Northeast PHP, although that conversation took place at a bar, so I’m not sure how binding the suggestion was. And I really enjoyed my time with Boston PHP, so I’d definitely go speak to another user group somewhere in the country.

Of course, I can’t write and present about what I do–Web development–without actually doing it. I’m not sure what projects I’ll work on this year, but I’ve just picked up two new clients, and will consult with them on their Web sites. There’s also the possibility of an interesting project for one of my existing clients. I hope that pans out, but it’s a matter of whether the funding comes through or not.

Work goals are not just about the work, but also expanding existing skills and developing new ones. I haven’t given this area as much thought as I should, but my initial goals include:

  • Make better use of version control (working largely for myself, I often get away without not using VC, even though I know better)
  • More consistently implement testing (e.g., unit testing)
  • Get better with CoffeeScript
  • Get better with LESS
  • Get better with my text editor, IDE, and other development tools

This last item is on my to-do list every year, and I’d recommend it always be on yours. Re-read the manual or other documentation for the software you use, take good notes, and/or review the notes you’ve taken in previous years. Learning a new shortcut, or remembering one you’ve long since forgotten, can pay off in spades.

Finally, for my non-work goal, I’ve finally bought and started playing with the Arduino. I don’t know if there will ever be a work benefit to my learning the Arduino, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. I have a couple of projects in mind, starting with motorizing my kid’s Legos.

What are your 2013 work goals? What else do you think should be on my list?