I’ve been thinking lately about my body of work. Everything a person does adds up to tell the story of what they care about and what they accomplished. I’ve never really kept track of this at any more granularity than a resumé, and I think that’s a problem. It leads to forgetting what you’ve done, and losing track of your major goals. Memory is fallible, and with enough time I’ll forget all but the broadest strokes of what I’ve done. A person’s expertise is based on their history of doing things and what they learned from it, and the less they remember of that history the less expertise they have. Also, looking back at a list of accomplishments gives a new perspective on how they fit in to a person’s major goals, and that insight can inform what future actions will help reach those goals.
So what did I do in 2013?
- I let my term on PS: One’s Board of Directors expire and stepped away from daily management for a while. I’ve always found it hard to not help run the hackerspace, but doing so was important for me in learning to let others take things over and drop them from my mental space. It gives me more time to work on what’s important instead of what’s urgent.
- I created PS: One’s first annual budget in April. It was grueling and well outside my expertise but I believed it was a major step toward transparency and fiscal responsibility for the organization.
- I improved the wood shop certification and safety standards and certified many people, making it safer for the users and the tools.
- I developed and taught an introduction to woodworking class. This was a big one for me because I tend to collect knowledge on things I’m interested in and not use it enough. Teaching classes seems like a great way to put that knowledge to work and make money in the process.
- I helped the Chicago Public Library develop a makerspace in the Harold Washington branch downtown. There wasn’t a lot of direct work for me on this task, I was just on their board of advisors and helped them figure out what a makerspace should be.
- I really learned how Agile works, and started with continuous deployment. This really started when I joined Analyte Health in September 2012. I wanted to work there because they we're the best Agile python shop I’d heard of in Chicago. Since joining I've had a lot of hands on experience developing using the agile method.
One problem with this list is that too many things were just whatever was in front of me. Aside from the woodworking class and the budget, I just did whatever was convenient. I've relied too much on opportunities presenting themselves and I haven't been making my own opportunities to build the body of work I really want.
To that end, my goals for 2014 are:
- Take more control of my career path. I've been a developer for about 10 years and I've never been in a senior position. I think this is mostly because I've moved to better companies and been surrounded by increasingly excellent coworkers, and also into a slightly different job as a consultant, but it's time I took a serious look at what it will take to get into a more senior position.
- Start a curated kit subscription service. I've already started this a little bit. It's an idea for a business enabling parents who want their kids to learn about making things to regularly receive kits curated by me, along with support when they make the kit if they have any problems. Almost everyone I've talked to has been very positive on the idea, and I already have kits selected. The next step is to simply get started and learn what the customers want.
- Make more art. I had a realization last year that caused me to value artistic expression considerably more. It was further emphasized by all the amazing people at XOXO. I have a few ideas I'd like to make, and I think it's important and will be rewarding.
- Blog more. Part of the difference between having 10 years of experience and 1 year of experience 10 times is remembering what you did. Writing it down in a blog helps. Also, I have ideas or get inspiration and keep it to myself too often. I have pages upon pages in evernote with links and images and project ideas that are doing nobody any good as long as they stay buried.
- Most importantly, do. Don't allow television or video games to distract me from doing things that are more worthwhile.