This month's T-SQL Tuesday marks the 97th installment, and is being hosted by Malathi Mahadevan (@sqlmal). She's asked us to share our learning goals for 2018.
Almost a year ago, I was posting about my overall goals for 2017. I love this T-SQL Tuesday topic for providing another opportunity for a similar post. It also gives me a place to continue reflecting on 2017, something I did halfway through the year.
Midway through, I found myself on track to complete my goals. I had given a presentation, learned some new SQL Server things (Columnstore, Partitioning, and In-Memory things for example), crossed two more Canadian provinces off my list, read many books, and taught Trekker the rescue dog some new tricks.
Last week, I met my goal of baking French Macaron cookies for the first time:
Whipped up my first ever batch of macarons (classic vanilla buttercream & maple buttercream). Now that I've been through the technique I could even make them pretty or fancy next time! pic.twitter.com/EYqtSFxMBO
— Melika NoKaOi (@MelikaNoKaOi) The French Macarons: Version 1
They could have been more glamorous, but they were still scrumptious! :-) I feel a sense of pride from learning how to bake a different style of cookie. The cookies provided both a small confidence boost and a greater sugar rush.
I met my book reading goal. In November, I joined a Professional Book Club for alumni of Pace University. The selected books focus on business and leadership. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book selected for the group which was The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. I recommend it; it's one of those books that helps you notice the importance of seemingly trivial things that happen every day.
Having spent the past year working with Trekker to change his reactions to everyday situations, I was able to relate many of the studies on cues and habits in that book to the theories behind dog training. With any luck (and a lot more work), I'll be able to use the knowledge for more effective behavior modification.
So, getting back to this month's T-SQL Tuesday topic and looking forward to learning goals for 2018; what am I planning? There are three questions specifically asked by Malathi and I will address those below:
What do you want to learn? (specific skills and talents)
Given my role in technical writing, I want to learn more about user guide documentation styles and best practices. This isn't very "T-SQL"ish or techie at all, but so necessary. Some odd people want to read the docs, and some even stranger people actually want to write the docs! I want to not only write the docs, but create the best, award-worthy documentation possible.
The SentryOne platform covers a vast array of technical areas that I need to learn more about to write effective documentation on some topics. AlwaysOn, Always-On, Always On? Just one example. ;-) Azure is one of my weaker areas, therefore Azure topics for DB Sentry and DW Sentry would be helpful for me to learn.
I'm not set on any specific topics in these general areas. These are areas in which I try to expand my knowledge and understanding on a regular basis.
How and when do you want to learn? (methods of learning and timeline on learning)
Most of these things will be spread throughout the year; however, I would like to start with the documentation learning goals.
I'm adding a few books on technical documentation to my reading list, such as Technical Writing Process: The simple, five-step guide that anyone can use to create technical documents such as user guides, manuals, and procedures.
Since I enjoy courses on edX, it's another learning path I'll pursue. I see some on "English Grammar and Style", "Business Communications", "Storytelling in the Workplace", "Analytics Storytelling for Impact", and "Writing Case Studies: Science of Delivery". They're all topics I would like to explore.
Conferences on technical communication and documentation are also on my radar. Networking in the SQL Server community has been beneficial and it will in others areas, thus checking out new conferences will be a great way to immerse myself.
My go-to method for learning in this area has been blogs. The SQL Server community has plenty of knowledgeable people who love to share and teach through blogs and presentations.
Some of my favorite blogs/bloggers:
I may check out some Microsoft courses on edX related to Azure as well as courses on Pluralslight. My secret plan is to learn from my accomplished coworkers in their areas of expertise, which seems like a logical choice since I want to know the technology and more about what SentryOne does with it.
I'll be reading all the books in the alumni book club I joined. This allows me to explore new topics on my own, as well as discuss them in-depth with other people in the group. In the past I completed some university and edX courses on leadership topics and may do that again if something catches my eye. My ever-growing personal list of books to read surely has some good titles for me to choose from in 2018. I often make note of random books in this area that come up in conversation, presentations, tweets, blogs, etc. and attempt to read as many as possible.
How do you plan to improve on what you learned? (Putting it to use at work/blogging/speaking)
Hopefully this doesn't come as a surprise, but I aim to improve on my documentation skills by writing more documentation. ;-)
I'll get to apply what I learn here in documentation, and I suspect a few blog posts. Maybe more than a few blog posts.
This may be a little bit more abstract in the application. I signed up to be a mentor via the "Pace Alumni-Student Mentoring Program". Clearly, Pace University is hard at work when it comes to engaging alumni. I'll have to see what new things I learn through reading and mentoring, and how I can apply them to my life and career. If anything blog-worthy happens, I'll let y'all know about it.
It's a gratifying time of year; to look back at completed goals and enjoy a sense of accomplishment. A big thank you to Mala for hosting this T-SQL Tuesday and bringing us this valuable topic. By thinking about learning goals for 2018, I've thought deeper about what I want to do next year, and what I'll need to get there. Hopefully, by laying out some of my plans here, I'll be able to reflect on 2018 in the same manner, and see that it all came together. And, I'm just going to put this out there, I believe there may be homemade entremets in my future. Those look like fun!
In closing, I would like to wish everyone a happy holiday season. I hope you've learned what you needed to this year, and have a plan for next year. If not, you still have time. :-)