It’s been a few weeks since I wrote my early thoughts on my goals for this year, and you can tell it’s a struggle when it takes me to the second week of February to get them finished. Why such a struggle? I think it’s because I’ve lived in nearly a constant state of change and growth for the past four years. Now it’s time to do something I’ve done several times before, step back, consolidate, and recharge. You might call it a working sabbatical, though that’s stretching the definition of sabbatical to the breaking point. For the next year it means more consulting and contract work, not much travel, less teaching, less volunteering. I expect it to be a largely technical year, spending time looking into areas that I think will be interesting over the next few years, some of it SQL related.
What I’ve really been thinking about is; what will make me feel like I’ve had a good year and what sets me up to be where I want to be in 2012? Here’s my revised list:
- Blogging. I like writing, and my friend Steve Jones has challenged me to write better. I’m not sure how to quantify better, but I know when I’m trying harder, so that will be the first test. I’ll try to talk more about this as I go. I’ll strive for every day, but it’s not a goal any longer, I know I can do volume, so it will be about stuff I want to share, or that I need to think about. Blogging takes time, but I believe the time investment continues to pay non direct cash dividends. At the end of the year I’ll call it a win if I’ve blogged at least 3 times a week on average, and if I’ve written at least a dozen serious pieces that end up being done reasonably well.
- Technical Writing. I haven’t done much of this lately, and I need to do more, so I’m going to try to write something technical once a month, ranging from a tip to an article for one of the community sites.
- Book. I’ve still got tons of notes on my idea for a first time book for managers, but this is a tough goal as I don’t see time in the first half of the year to work on it. So I’m going to book some days on my calendar for the second half and push. It’s a stretch goal, but one that would be exciting to accomplish.
- Presentations. I’m going to try to do one presentation a month, about 12 for the year. It’s a volume goal, but I’m also going to experiment more, and to work on finding better ways to build presentations. This fits in well with my goal of spending more time with the Florida community.
- Virtual Presentations. I’m still not comfortable doing these compared to in person, so I want to do at least 6 this year to get more practice. We’ll call that part of the 12 above, but I hope to do a few extra.
- Vice President. I spent some time in Dec and Jan thinking about this, and came to the tough decision not to pursue one of the two slots this year. Saying no now effectively means I’ll never get to run for President, which I think would be an interesting experience. Deciding now let’s me focus on things that matter to me and to PASS. I know that’s not a goal exactly.
- Continue to do what I can to make the 2011 event successful and to capture lesson for the 2012 event in the US
- Drive us through the site selection for 2012 and monitor the launch of the partnership between the selected site team and PASS HQ.
- Push through a series of technology fixes and features that will make things easier for users at all levels, more on this soon, but I’m determined to make it happen in the first half of this year.
- Coach HQ to take full ownership by the end of the year. Not just coaching new events, but fully engaging with the leaders and the community, helping to grow new locations and all the rest that requires real connections to our members. My goal is that at the end of the year the SQLSaturday portfolio will either get merged into a larger one, or will just go away – that will be up to the next President. Either way, that gives HQ a year with me near by but not actively involved to make sure things are working. Not an easy goal, and not all within my control.
- Drive the thought leadership, on topics ranging from event size to budget to sponsor satisfaction.
- Limit my time. I’m doing my best to do the more important things I can do each week in 2 hours. Some weeks will require more, such as the ones with in person meetings, but I’m going to try to use the limit to force me to learn how to change the board into a strategic board that can still get things done.
- Transparency and Governance. I think we’ve made progress, and I’m hoping the changes recommended by the ERC will help us make more, as will the pending changes to the by-laws.
- PASS Culture. Here I’m going to write a goal that I don’t know how to achieve yet, but by the of 2011 I’d like to see PASS aligning it’s efforts with the expectations of its members and scoring well in a satisfaction survey.
- I’ll continue to coach and mentor where I can on an adhoc basis, but I expect most of my efforts to focus on helping people get started blogging. Blogging is far more approachable than speaking and is a great way to feel connected, so it’s a good way to encourage those that want to grow. My only measurable goal is to conduct one get started blogging class with a focus on writing, not on the technical trivia. More on this in the next couple weeks.
- I’ve already started the task of changing my ‘job’ to consultant from trainer, working with a great client that offers me some interesting challenges. Over the next month or two I’ll be trying to add a second client, giving me two different cultures to work in, and then I’ll supplement that with the occasional smaller project.
- Most of the teaching I’ll do this year will be in a mini-class format of 1 or 2 or 3 students, something that is more mentoring than pure teaching, and I expect to do at most one of these a month.
- Get back to being entrepreneurial. I don’t talk much about SQLShare here, both because it’s very much a work in progress and because I try to keep the blog non-commercial. It’s a great place for me to learn lessons about using and applying technology, and ideally it will generate a small profit. But aside from that I still need to scratch the itch to build and try things, but I haven’t decided where just yet. Not sure if that’s trying to build a product or a service or something, but trying things is what drives me, and I have to find a way to do more.
I think I could write a 100 goals, but some of them are subsets of the above, others are just part of how I work, such as continuing to build my LinkedIn network, now at just over 800. The ones I’ve written down are the ones that feel like the matter, and will help me allocate the all too little time I have to spread across all of these efforts.
So the next part is, where do I get the time? Beginning in March I’m planning to ‘work’ four days a week for clients, leaving me one day a week to try to build stuff. That’s a nice bucketing for me, because it’s easy for me to compare what I earned on that fifth day versus what I could have earned working for a client. I don’t want to get overly focused on short term results, but it will be a very visible reminder about the time to money equation. Saturday or Sunday morning will be my writing and speaking prep time, up to four hours as I need it, though hopefully less. PASS time will be an hour on Tuesday or Wednesday evening or Thursday lunch, plus another hour in small chunks replying to email and brain storming.
As I write this it feels doable. This is all stuff I want to do. I can’t control all of it and that’s ok. I’m trying to find the middle ground between setting goals so safe and achievable they don’t matter and setting goals that are more wishful thinking. The hard part is setting limits. I have so many ideas! So many things I want to do and try, and my impulse is to work more, because I can, but it’s not sustainable.
Are these good goals, worthy of me and my efforts? Have I done enough thinking on how I’ll measure success? I’d enjoy hearing any thoughts you have.