Refocus on the Basics

Most of what I learned about programming was during my first year at Yahoo!. I wrote so much Perl code and dove into naive attempts at distributed computing, and the like.

I was pretty proud of my code and that I put in hard work, and was vindicated when I went back to meet old friends at Yahoo! and one of the new recruits actually praised my Perl code (because he was now maintaining it). I was taken aback. Why? That was probably the only time in my life I was proud of the code I wrote and someone actually commended on it.

But I’ve stagnated in the past three years and have not been adding to my knowledge even though I’ve been working, meeting deadlines and earning my bread. On the surface, I’m adding skills to my resumé but inside I know I should be learning more.

My theme for the next 8 months is to focus on getting back to the basics, to relearn the fundamentals and get back the joy of programming.

Ever since I’ve been working for myself, I’ve been very happy to take technical decisions and seeing it right through to the code. I get a kick out of it. I need more of that.

I’m hoping to read more books like Ship It! and The Pragmatic Programmer vs. spending time on blogs.

I’m hoping to spend more of those-moments-when-you-need-distractions at Stack Overflow and technical mailing lists vs. reading opinion / “news” sites.

Of course, it’s not just about more information but rather about getting into the flow, getting into the mood.

I will try to be at the bottom of things rather than on top of things, although its hard to let go of the addiction of trying to be “inbox zero.”

In the big picture, there’s no reason to have this goal. I can just keep on going as-is. But my life is so empty without having something to work on. That’s the thing about goals.

Let’s see how far it goes.

Do you find it useful to have a time-bound dominant theme for personal development? Have you thought about what will you learn this year?

Of course, ideas are cheap, execution is everything. So I’m getting back to coding right now.