December is one of my favorite months of the year. It’s not only because we have Christmas ( I don’t believe in Santa Claus by the way :D) and New Year holiday but also a great time for me to sit back, see how have been doing this year and plan for a new year with more success. In this post today, I’d like to do a quick review of how I have been doing this year, share with you some lessons learned and what to look for in 2018.
We do not always make it
Doing a year-in-review is always great as long as we have had a great year. No one wants to sit back, look back and see that we have a bad year. As a human, we wish we could make it every year and achieve all the goals we had set at the beginning of the year.
The fact is that we do not always make it every year disregard how hard we tried. Sometimes things will not work as we want it to be. Sometimes unexpected things happen and it derails us from original plans.
Most of the goals I shared in the last year in review I failed to achieve it.
First off, let’s do a quick review of what I planned last year:
Here’s what I planned last year:
“I would like to write more blog posts to guide beginners better”
Result? I wrote only 10 articles last year. Some of best articles are:
Even though I often value the quality over quantity, 10 articles a year? well, it’s not as many as I want to be. Remember that in 2015, I even could write as twice as many articles.
So I consider it’s a failure to me.
What else I planned?
“I planned to build a premium course for testers”
Result? No new courses have been built yet. Actually, I built a draft of what I wanted to include in the course…and that’s all.
I also planned to re-design my site with a new theme.
Result? You are reading this article with the old theme.
Now, this is the best failure to me: I didn’t read a single book this year 🙁
More exactly I bought some and read a few chapters but I’ve never finished them.
I feel bad because I do always see the value of reading books and often recommend you guys read books but I failed to do that.
Shame on me.
In general, I had a failed year in terms of goal achievement.
But why did I fail?
I do not pretend that I know all of my problems or I’m expert of personal improvement, but I think I know why I failed to achieve my goals.
#1: I was distracted by other (new) goals
This year, my wife and I decided to buy a new apartment in a condominium. Nothing fancy actually, it’s a small apartment near the downtown with river and highway view.
(A look from my apartment)
The best part is that it’s a brand new one, so my wife and I spent a lot of time on designing and decorating it and moved in. I spent all my time after work and weekends on this project that I didn’t have much time left for writing or other activities that I had planned. By the way, I was not actually designing or decorating things myself. I hired people to do that for me, but supervising and fixing minor stuff here and there took me a good amount of time too.
Now we’ve already moved in and we are quite happy with it, but moving house is one of the most painful and time-consuming things I have experienced. Sadly, spending time on this project left me no time for other goals.
#2: I lost the momentum
Before my “moving house” project, things had worked them out so well. I had had the motivation to write articles. Even though I hadn’t written a lot of posts, writing an article hadn’t been a problem to me. However, after stopping writing for a while, I found it’s hard to get back on the right track. It took me more time to start, write and complete an article than before.
Worse, I lost the will to write.
That’s bad because I still do like writing and helping people.
Now I can understand the reason why I found it’s hard to write back after delaying for a long time is that I lost the momentum. In other words, I failed to make writing become my habit.
Have you ever wondered why most of us never miss a single day to do morning routine like brushing teeth, taking a bath? We do not question ourselves why we brush teeth every day. We just do them naturally. Why? It’s because we make those activities become our habits. Such habits were trained when we were young and now we just do it…naturally.
Since I failed to build a writing habit, I relied entirely on motivation to write.
Motivation is great. It moves you forward and makes you take action, but here’s the thing:
When I had the motivation, the writing was easy. I could finish an article in a day or two.
When I didn’t have the motivation, I didn’t want to write.
The problem is that I do not always control my motivation. Some days I feel good, some days I feel bad. Relying on motivation to write is not a good idea at all. It’s not productive, at least to me.
#3: I set the wrong goals
As I mentioned above, one of the reasons I failed to achieve the goal is that I didn’t have enough time to achieve the goals.
Now, let’s be honest: If I could have more time (E.g. I hadn’t had my house project), would I spend time on the goals I set?
Why? Because I set some wrong goals.
Since I’ve built this website, my actual goal is to help new testers by sharing tips, guides via my blog posts.
However, last year, one of the goals I set was changing my website theme. The reason I had set this goal was that I had seen some design problems of my theme when reading on mobile. The theme was not so responsive and slowed down my website, so I had wanted to change it.
Look, changing website them is great but how it’s aligned well with my actual goal?
No, it’s not.
Of course, changing the theme and making a website user-friendly is important for my readers but the more important part is the contents, the posts themselves. I see some websites with an ugly design but people still follow and read like crazy 😀
or like this
Why? Because the content, posts themselves are awesome.
Besides of setting the wrong goal, I think that goal I had set was too easy and not challenging enough to create motivation to accomplish it. So if a goal is too easy to achieve or a goal is not what we really want to, we’ll tend to procrastinate it and never achieve it.
What went well this year?
I have just shared with you the bad side of a year, so what went well this year?
After all, we need to look on bright side to move forward right?
Here they are:
#1: I’m helpful
Disregard of email spams or comment spams, I have received a lot of compliments and thanks from my readers for being helpful:
Of course, I’m very happy when receiving compliments like that, but I’m even happier when I know that I’m helpful. What feels better than helping someone solve the issue they are facing or achieve their goals?
If you haven’t read them, check them out.
#2: Experience the parenting
If I have to vote for the most life-changing part this year, it would be this: Parenting.
Raising my boy, taking care of him, teaching him, playing with him are taking up all of my time.
Frustrated? No doubt
But what I get in return is the opportunity to see my boy learning things and seeing the world.
My boy already passed the “Terrible Twos” stage. He has just turned three this month and it looks like he’s now in “Terrible Threes” stage :-). He starts asking all kind of questions. Some are good and show that he understands things. Some are “non-sense” that I have no idea how to answer him. The problem is that he keeps asking his non-sense questions until he satisfies with my (non-sense) answers.
How to deal with non-sense questions from your kids?
>> Tips: Don’t try to be logical with kids at this age. It helps but not necessary, just be responsive enough to answer their questions to make them know that you do care his interests. You’ll be fine.
Of course, I’ve never got bored to answer his questions because I know that asking questions is the sign of learning things.
So, come on boy, keep asking me questions.
That’s all my review of 2017.
What to expect in 2018?
Basically next year I’ll put more focus on building good habits rather than settings specific goals and the number one priority is writing habit. If I can build writing habits, I believe I can write more posts for readers.
Since I built AskTester, most of the posts on AskTesters are software testing related posts. While I’ll keep writing testing related posts, I may want to write other topics especially personal improvement, soft skills, career guide, etc. Hopefully, such posts will not only help you succeed in your testing career but also help you achieve something bigger…like a happy life.
To me, it’s not software testing career matters, a happy life does.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!