In Technology, it is easy to fall behind. Just when you think you are up to speed on the latest advancements in your area (Web, Mobile, etc.) there is a new Open Source project being worked on that will make what you are doing easier or obsolete.
Reliance on your employer to make sure you are the best in your field is a failing idea. While some of us work for companies that will send their employees to training, to conferences, they will even let us purchase books and resources that will help us further ourselves, but still there are even more of us where this is not the case.
Do not expect others to invest in you. It may happen but it is not definite, this is why it is imperative that today you start investing in you.
Direction, not intention
We all start out with good intentions. We want to blog, we want to read, we want to learn more. But intentions are not enough. “Our direction will determine our destination, not our intentions.” - Andy Stanley
I have countless numbers of books on my shelf that I want to read. I have a pocket full of articles that I want to read. But at some point I must start.
Convinced? Okay let’s do this. Below is a strategy that I use to invest in myself along with some resources I use to do that.
Start with a strategy
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Find a time and place - You need a specific time and place to work on getting better at your craft. Having a dedicated time and place creates rhythm and promotes consistency.
A way to take notes - Some people may want to use Evernote, the Notes App but for me a good pen and a notebook work. Writing down ideas that come or scribbling down thoughts that will help you remember something is a great way to move forward.
An itch to scratch – Everyone needs a side project they are working on. This helps you vet new ideas on something that may be less important that an application work. It also affords you the opportunity to explore a new idea or technique on something smaller scale. This usually means quicker turnaround time.
Resources I use
I am a visual learner, the more I see the more it makes sense. Therefore most of the resources I use are screencast sites. These sites provide video content that allow you to learn a new idea, library or technique while watching someone demonstrate it.
Peepcode – A great screencast site that has helped expose me to newer technologies and help me learn more about others that I use. The play-by-play series has been extremely helpful as it lets you watch other Developers solve problems in about an hour. It is amazing what you can learn by watching others use their tools and problem solve.
Tekpub – Another screencast site that has some good videos on personal development, .NET and other topics.
NSScreencast – When I first got into iOS Development, this screencast proved to be worth its weight in gold. Ben does a great job of tackling a specific area of iOS Development and then shows you how it is done. It is kind of like the magician letting you in on how he performs his act.
Railscasts – If you are interested in learning Ruby/Rails Development then Ryan Bates is your man. Much like NSScreencast, Ryan takes a gem or library from the Ruby ecosystem and shows you how it works within Rails.
GitHub Explore – One of the more underrated features of GitHub is Explore. This feature allows you to browse top repositories across specific languages. I like to browse the languages I am interested in and see what repositories are trending. This helps me keep up to date with the latest work in the open source community and get new ideas for current and future projects.
I hope this blog has inspired you to develop a plan for investing in yourself. Do not be quick to rely on others to help move yourself along in your career but instead take a stance today that you will determine your future by the choices you make.
I had a boss once tell me, “What happens if we invest in our employees and they leave?” To which I responded, “What happens if we don’t and they stay?”
You see, for employers this is why it is also imperative that you encourage your employees to invest in themselves and also help them do so. The stakes are too high and the cost could eventually be your company.