Reflecting on my 2021 goals - Q1 edition

Apr 1, 2021

Somehow it's April already. A quarter of the year has passed, yet it feels like it should only be a few weeks or days old. I'm not entirely sure where the time has gone.

I set myself some pretty challenging goals for this year - at least what I knew would be a challenge for me. As I think it's good to review goals at regular intervals, I want to look back at what I have done so far this year, and whether I am on track.

The Goals

Blogging

I wanted to increase my blogging cadence. Last year I pushed out 1 post a week, and was slowly growing an audience. This year I wanted to double that, getting out two posts a week. So far I have achieved that, and have somehow managed to put out content for both my GitLab appreciation section - Tanuki Tuesday, as well as general content. That being said, a lot of that looks like it's more geared towards blogging in particular, not IT and other programming issues.

The results are speaking from themselves in terms of traffic. January 2020 saw me get around 1 visitor per day. That went up to around 5 per day in March 2020. One year on, I'm getting around 100 visitors per day. This might be a tiny amount compared to some/most other blogs out there, but knowing that I'm helping people out there is a great feeling.

Open Source

I wanted to average 1 contribution per month to open source projects which aren't my own. So far I am off the mark there. I've managed a single accepted contribution to GitLab this year, and haven't found another project I'm passionate enough to get involved in. The reason, I think, is fairly simple. I use GitLab for just about everything because it can do just about everything. I spend most of my working day in GitLab, and to save having several tools and applications to check through, I look for ways to use GitLab so I don't have to stray too far.

Learning

My goal for this year is to learn Docker and Redis. Learning new technology is a great way to find content for blog posts. Unfortunately I've been spending all my free time working on creating blog post content that I've not had the time to further my knowledge in many areas, and certainly not in the technology I wanted to.

The realisation

My blogging is going really well. I'm putting together the content for it ahead of time, which frees me up to look at other ideas for additional content. That time is then spent creating the content. I've hit an annoying repeating cycle where I finish work and, if it's a free-time evening (Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday), I'm working on blog content. Sometimes I have a break and do nothing. I've even had a few evenings where I have logged on to work through a post, but found it's gone from 7pm to 10pm and I've not written a word, or done anything else.

I've hit a point I was concerned I was hitting last year. I'm creating content for the sake of content, rather than why I started this blog - to help people and act as a reminder for myself of how to do things. Even as I look through the content ideas I have for the "general" (Thursday) posts, I've got half of them purely about blogging. Content I likely won't need to refer to in future. Okay, some of it might be useful to others. But all of those are time just to create content for content sake, and taking me away from things which will benefit me in the long run, as well as providing valuable content ideas which would genuinely be useful to people.

I need to change my goals. I need to do things which provide value to me, as well as others.

Goal changes

  1. Blogging - I won't be posting as regularly. Especially within the "general" section for Thursdays. I only plan on posting there when I have solved a problem and might need to repeat the process in future, or if I have learned something which may be of use to others. I will also be reducing the Tanuki Tuesday posts to roughly every two weeks. I will remain a committed enthusiast of GitLab, and will champion them wherever I can. But, ultimately, Tanuki Tuesday is a fan post section which draws on features I use day-to-day and puts it together with information in the publicly available documentation to create use cases for the real world.
  2. The actual blog - By reducing the number of posts I will be producing, and checking the approximate monthly traffic, I'll be migrating my blog away from Ghost hosting and on to an external provider. I'll be able to save money, and have a VPS which is appropriate for the traffic I have.
  3. Taking a break - I'm taking the rest of this month off from publishing to the blog. I want to look at some open source projects to which I might be able to contribute, and work on the overall goal in the open source area. I also want to see how changes which are happening in my life this month affect my free time so I can re-evaluate what I have time for.
  4. Learning - I am going to see what technologies I really want to focus on learning, and push forward with some self-education. I know I want to learn Vue.js better and further my understanding of Redis, as per the original plan. Docker might be going on hold for a while until I am more comfortable with those technologies. I'd also like to re-learn Python and do some work with that. All things I don't have time for at the moment.

My Reflection Takeaways

I've pushed so hard with creating content, I feel I've hit a burnout point. Creating content is almost a full-time job (it certainly feels like it), and is giving me no time to do other things I am passionate about.

I'll be back at some point in May, possibly June depending on how things go. I'll be around on Twitter still so drop me a message and say 'Hi' if you like. If you've got any areas of GitLab you'd like to see a Tanuki Tuesday post about in future, drop me a message. I'm happy to go and learn more about GitLab and create content about it. Just not at the pace I was.

You should reflect, too!

If you have set yourself goals, you should take time to reflect. It is okay to push through and keep going if it's tough but making you happy. Buy unless you stop and check to see if you really are happy (you have to be really honest with yourself) you'll not know if you need to make a change.

Changing your goals and direction is not a sign of failure. It's a sign of growth. You've worked towards a certain goal, stopped to take stock, and realised it's not the right goal or right direction for you.

The whole point of goals is to facilitate change. If you don't stop to reflect, you can't see whether you have changed. Or if you have changed, whether it's for the better. Set yourself a new goal to reflect on other goals regularly, and change as you feel appropriate.

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