Slowing down

I am at a transitioning point. I left the group I spent the last five years working with. It was a difficult decision to make to leave since I love the people I worked with there. As with any team there were ups and downs but I honestly may never find a group that is so well knit and willing to help each other than them. I wish them all the best in their future and I know that the team will go on to do great things.

Once the decision was made to leave, finding a new role was actually a very straight forward affair. I was applying to jobs and working with two recruiters who were able to obtain interviews for me at two companies. I feel both interviews went well and I was very fortunate to be offered a position with an insurance company that is doing new development and pulling some products in house. This is a great opportunity to really focus on improving my skills as a developer and working with a small team to deliver on some clear objectives.

What this means for me is that I need to work on slowing down. Slowing down my expectations of myself and slowing down my work since I will hopefully have much less to juggle. I will not be customer facing to my knowledge which will mean one large segment of my time has been returned to me. I think in time I may miss talking to the variety of people that I was able to contact but presently I’m excited to have that much focus returned to development!

Slowing down might sounds like a step backward to some, but I think it will afford me to really dig deep and invest in the work I can deliver in the role instead of the balancing act of custom work, support, and interfacing with outside customers. I hope to plan out and spend time pondering solutions instead of figuring out the first thing that works and then running out of time to improve upon it. Doing the work deeply, meaning to remove distractions and focus on a task, will enable me to grow professionally and I hope personally since my work stress may go down. This is all not to say that there will not be crunch times or deadlines shortened due to some unforeseen event but at the highest level I hope to feel more accomplished in my day to day work and in solutions I deliver.

The pull to work better and improve upon my technical skills has been at me for some time. It took much longer than I’d like to admit to respond but now I am attentive, there’s a lot to be excited about! Again, I have to remind myself to slow down though. I cannot learn the code base overnight, as much as I may want to try, I cannot fix every problem I run across, that would cause more pain than it would fix, and I cannot be an expert at every piece of tech used in a week. I accept that I am human who has a family I love and other interests in life.

Let it be known

A few months ago I was discussing something that a coworker wanted professionally, to attend a conference, and I gave him advice that has helped me immensely. Let it be known what you want. The majority of additional responsibilities and advancements I have made has stemmed from discussions with coworkers and bosses of my interests in my professional progress. If you are working towards a professional goal and your superiors are not aware of it, how are they going to help you achieve it?

I am not advocating providing a list of demands but instead casually incorporate it into conversation or better yet bring it up in a formal review process. If it is well received you now have a path to move forward. If it’s not well received you will know and possibly look for another position that will allow growth in your chosen direction in your current company or elsewhere.

So what are you waiting for! Go push your career forward!

A success!

I feel like I have accomplished something today! I am working on learning another language and framework, Ruby on Rails, using the The Odin Project and today I built my first rails application and git pushed it to Heroku. I realize that this simple process and commands will become second nature to me but I am ecstatic to do it the first time and have it work! I have been wanting to do something like for so long and wanted to put my thoughts on it somewhere which is why I have this darn blog anyway!

To future pushes to master!

A new motto

There have been many changes lately at work with processes, management, and personnel which is to be expected from a company that is growing as quickly as we are. This time of flux has given me an opportunity to reflect on my role and my day to day activities.

One thing that has been constantly in my head of late is the mantra to ‘suck less than yesterday’. The source of the motto is Jeff Atwood as I heard him describe it in This Developer’s Life podcast while discussing their outage several years ago. This idea has really resonated with me because each day you start with the idea of improving upon yesterday to some degree. The scale is not defined nor is the scope. It could be that I decide to take the extra step to document a process for internal or external use or simply ordering a salad for lunch instead of the standard burger and fries because that will be healthier for me. Alternatively it could be opening discussion that a process is outdated and needs review and volunteering to update it.

I appreciate the narrow history of this mentality. Yesterday is fresh in my mind with all of the successes and failures and by reflecting on both I can make improvements on the failures and examine my successes to see how I can have additional success going forward. These small changes lead to bigger improvements over time and also don’t cause the paralysis I sometimes feel when I attempt to change everything.

The biggest take away though is that being conscious of what went right or wrong the day before is the very first step towards improvement which would be recognition. Knowing that I have made mistakes and has success and then taking the step to analyze both is key to improving myself. As I discussed with a coworker in the last few weeks: experience itself is not enough, the analysis and improvements due to experiences is what drives growth.

A change I’ve noticed

Something I have noticed change about myself recently is my lost interest in playing video games. I do admit that I still play them, but gone are the days of playing Call Of Duty for 4-5 hours a day. I have picked up playing a new game, League of Legends, which I do enjoy but not so much that it is a necessity to play as I once felt.

There is probably a number of factors to this change, the leading one being becoming a father. Children are a lot of work but it is the most rewarding work I have ever done. I give her so much and she returns it in so many ways. She makes my heart burst on an almost daily basis and I still cannot get enough.

The other cause I feel for this change is that a house is also a lot of work. Our house was move in ready,  which many of our friends/family’s homes were not, and we still have been putting in a lot of work turning it into our home. I get a huge return on the time and energy spent keeping up a house. The biggest returns are providing my family a place to create memories and feel safe. Stating it will sound cheesy but it feels as though I am living my dream to have a home that is my own and a family to raise in it.

From another perspective, I have also come to realize with the above changes means I have a fraction of the free time I used to have. This has been a good thing because it has forced me to prioritize what is most important to invest my time. Lately I have been feeling the strong urge again to program and really dive into it. I had a conversation with a co-worker and her recommendation was that if I was serious I would need to go back to school and obtain a degree to really get career as a developer/software engineer. This as been something I have been wanting to do since moving to my current company but also had the very expensive changes in lifestyle already listed. I have decided to spend my time to write some code and decide on an application to write from beginning to end so that I may get a better feel about investing the time and energy into a degree. If I find that I do not like it and keep it as a hobby I will be happy and can pursue other career aspirations. I have also come to realize along this line of thinking that I would much prefer to spend my limited time learning to program in Ruby to build a small app or site so that I obtain some value.

I will still enjoy the occasional video game and will most likely never completely quit. What I have found is that the achievements unlocked in a video game don’t translate to a form of success that I value any longer. They will become a past time for when I can decide to be unproductive or ‘vegetate’.

First Post

This is something that I purchased last year with grand plans to create a landing page for myself, begin blogging, and also have a way to easily pass photos of my new daughter to friends & family without losing out on privacy.

Needless to say my first post is 6 months after I purchased the domain and set everything up.

My current reading avenues include blogs of a large variety that mostly pertain to technology and programming. Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea to start blogging myself to polish my writing skills and to have a way to put thoughts down and share them. With that out there, I can now say if you are reading this post it is most likely a little rough so please continue to read as I improve.

Setting up the theme and other things within WordPress and this initial post is enough for one night so until next time (hopefully not 6-12 months from now)