At the beginning of this year, I laid out some goals. Some of them I posted on here. Since it is the end of one year and the start of another, I wanted to just go back and review them and see where I ended up. That will help me then prepare for next year. Hopefully seeing my goals will help inspire you all to set some of your own goals in the new year.
We over-estimate what can be done in days and weeks and under-estimate what can be done in years.attributed to various people over the years, incuding Bill Gates
This quote rings true with me. In the short term, we are very optimistic. In the longterm, when we dream really big we get overwhelmed. If you check out my reading list below, this is the same reading list I shared in January. At first glance, it seems like a failure. I started out the year intending to read 12 books, but only ended up reading 4 of them.
However, when put in context, I’m pretty happy with where I ended up. In my defense, the xUnit Test Patterns book was 900 pages long. It is not exactly light reading. It took me over 3 months of careful study. The books that I did read, I really studied and highlighted and I was able to actually implement many of the ideas. If you have been reading my blog, you should be able to see the influence of these books. In addition, I went into the year knowing a few things:
- I read a lot of personal books for fun. So I knew that going into the year I was going to read more than 12 books this year. Those were just the work-related books that I wanted to read. Sometimes those personal books do provide some useful insights that I can use at work, so they are not all just pleasure. Some are, but many are also about spiritual and personal growth, which certainly carries over into business and software engineering.
- I have a huge selection of business and programming books on my desk that I want to read. This list was my best guess at the beginning of the year as to what would make sense. I knew that I had the ability to call an audible if my business needs changed and another book became more suitable, which did happen several times. Books like Dive into Design Patterns, Automate the Boring Stuff With Python, and The Agile Samurai seemed to fit in with my business goals at the time more so than some of the books on the list, so I read those instead.
In the end, I ended up reading a total of 21 books this year. According to Good Reads, I read 5643 pages. That’s ~15 pages/day. Not too shabby. As you can see, in addition to the ones on my original list, I read several more books related to business and programming.
Here is the complete list of books I read this year (these are only the ones I finished in 2019. There are several others I have started, but not yet finished. – NOTE I often read several books at a time.):
- Jesus by Max Locado
- Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
- Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
- Linux For Hackers by OccupyTheWeb
- xUnit Test Patterns by Gerard Meszaros
- Financial Intelligence For Entrepreneurs by Karen Berman and Joe Knight
- Smart Marketing For Engineers by Rebecca Geier
- The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
- Code Reviews 101 by Giuliana Carullo
- El Alquimista by Paul Coelho
- Data And Goliath by Bruce Schneier
- A Book Of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
- The Agile Samurai by Jonathan Rassmussen
- Boundaries With Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
- Dive Into Design Patterns by Alexander Shvets
- Automate the Boring Stuff With Python by Al Sweigart
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- Accidents in North American Climbing 2019
- The Art of Unit Testing – Roy Osherove
In addition to my reading list, I had some other business goals this year. I’m happy to say that I was able to hit those. Here are a few, I’d like to share.
In marketing I had a couple of goals that I met:
- 1 blog post/week – I was able to keep this up all year. Lately, I’ve managed to put out 2 posts some weeks. Overall I am now at over 100 Blog Posts. My main goal here was just to maintain consistency.
- Blog awareness – In January, I had 449 views of my website. In June I passed 1000 views. At that point, I made a goal to get over 1000 views every month. As part of that, I started posting my blog posts to LinkedIn and sharing them with my e-mail list. I also added a Most Popular Posts widget and links to related posts to try to encourage visitors to explore more. The numbers for December are on track to continue to meet that goal.
- BiMonthly Webinar – I started a FREE bi-monthly webinar series. You can view recordings of all the webinars here. The goal was to grow my e-mail list. It went from basically 0 to 165 members. I averaged 35 signups per webinar, with about 20 typically showing up. So it was pretty successful.
As a small business owner, keeping an eye on income is pretty important. Without it, things stop working pretty quickly. I set a couple of goals around income this year. Here are a few:
- Diversity – One lesson I learned early on was not to put all your eggs in one basket. One year I had just one (really good) customer. It ended up being my most profitable year. However, when that one great customer went away, that next year was pretty lean. Since then I’ve been working on getting a more diverse set of customers. In 2017, I had 2. In 2018 I increased that to 4. In 2019 I increased that to 11. In 2019 my largest customer only accounted for 29% of total revenue. In 2017 that figure was 99% and in 2018 it was 53%. So things are definitely moving in the right direction.
- Type of income – I have been trying to make the switch from doing (writing code) to more teaching and mentoring. In 2018 I was doing no teaching/mentoring. This year 27% of my clients and 20% of my revenue came from coaching/mentoring. Again that is moving in the right direction.
I also picked up a few technical skills this year.
- Teststand – I wanted to expand my capabilities and learn some Teststand this year. I found 2 Teststand projects this year and ended up getting CTD certified.
- Python – Dani Jobe’s recent presentations have inspired me to learn some Python. I read through Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, played around with the Python examples in Dive into Design Patterns and have been working through the advent of code using Python.
What about you?
What were your goals for this year? Did you hit the mark? Most importantly what did you learn?