Work First?

Like many people, this time of year for me is one of reflection. Trying to figure out what I want to do with my time during the coming year, hoping that it will lead to future success.

In past years my plan has always been ambitious, but unattainable. Rather than make some BHAGs, it’s a giant list of all the things I can think of doing. Lots of side projects, career goals, house work, etc. This year I’m taking a different approach. Simplifying my life and honing in on how I want to spend my time, knowing that this resource is finite and scarce.

For the first time work is going to be my primary focus. It sounds contradictory to recognize the value of my time then turn around and devote it to work. To be clear, this is not a “if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life” moment. I’m just starting to figure out what I enjoy. Love is still off in the distance. But over the past year I have been journaling more, writing my daily mantra through helping people I grow. I have come to realize that there is a great deal of help that I can provide to the people I work with. Not just with their career or engineering, but with life. Everyone is more capable than they believe and it’s a great feeling to see them start to believe it too. So whether through managing or how projects are ran (from an engineering perspective), what do we need to change to help us grow as a group? To learn from each other and learn from our projects. This is what I’m hoping to devote my time to this year. After reading both Infinite Game and An Elegant Puzzle recently I’ve been thinking about my role in the company and the platform it’s given me. It might be small, but it’s still a platform. In a selfish way though I want to get better. I want to build better teams. I want to build better products. And I want to learn as much as I can along the way.

Working with others as individuals or on a teams teaches me about myself. Taking a minute to stop and analyze my emotional reaction to various situations helps me think more clearly in the future. Reflecting on why someone made choice A or choice B helps me refine my own decision making skills. When I help people I am the one who benefits. My hope is that they go on and help others, believing they too will grow. It’s this cycle that will make the teams stronger across the company and as this line of thinking crystalizes it becomes motivating.

Does this mean that I won’t be doing any side projects? No. I love to code. I still love to build products where I might be the only user. From time to time I’ll still need to get those creative energies out. Rather than pulling myself in ten different directions, hating myself for not finishing anything, this year I’m taking a bit slower. Taking is a bit more simple. Three things in priority order. Lead / Project development and management (work). Second is self investment (reading and writing). And lastly, coding when I feel like it.

Who knows what’s ahead this year, the only think I know is I’m not going to beat myself up because I didn’t ship 5 new things. If I help one or more people realize their potential it’s a pretty good year.