The one and only thing I’ll be focusing on in 2018

Sometimes it's what we don't-do, rather than what we do-do that can be infinitely more important.

“You seem Zen. Do you meditate?”. We were in a bar having a catch up drink before Christmas. We hadn’t spoken for a year, but we’ve been friends for a long time. I didn’t think much of the comment at the time. But since I’ve had the chance to think about it some more. It has been a while since I’ve last meditated (even though I should do it more…). But the “zen” part has been a deliberate practice. Well, I wouldn’t call it Zen. I’d call it focus and it’s something that I spent most of 2017 trying to cultivate. There’s a Hemingway quote that’s stuck with throughout this year.

The important questions I ask myself every week, and why.

By rewriting your concerns as questions you move from anxiety to curiosity.
This is a paraphrased quote from the book Sprint. Author Jake Knapp is talking about gathering a list of “what could go wrongs” on a project as part of a design Sprint. Knapp is tapping into the elephant in the room and testing the worst case scenarios. But rather than listing them as statements, Jake says to list them as questions. “If we don’t get our customer to understand X we’ll fail” becomes “How can we encourage the user to understand X?”.

Stoicism: A software developers guide.

Many of life's issues are already solved. That means we can learn incredible lessons from the past ... here are my top 5 ideas from the stoic philosophy and how you can leverage them too.

Most problems have happened before. If we search back in history far enough, we’ll find someone overcoming a problem we now have. Stoic philosophy (Stoicism), when studied can give us many of the answers to problems we already face. I am only a beginner when it comes to Stoicism. But I’ve already had benefits leveraging some of the learnings from their teachings.
 
Rather than spending your time reading the works and figuring out how they apply to you. I’ve distilled 5 of the top lessons, from the perspective of a software developer.

Creating a powerful online presence with a platform

Having a website, blog, portfolio or stackoverflow profile is common amongst software developers. Yet, by thinking about our online presence as a Platform we could be achieving greater results. But what is a platform? And why would we want one?

My journey with Platform all started a few years ago when I read Key Person of Influence. It ultimately prompted my intrigue with writing. Blown away by the ideas in this book I had to dig deeper. This is when I discovered books talking about similar concepts:
I recommend them all.
 
The concept of Platform can apply to every type of software developer career. It doesn’t matter if you: want to work full time, start a business or go into management … The concepts of Platform apply no matter your career vision.

5 ways to get more out of your non-fiction reading

Flicking through pages can only take you so far. If you want to digest and get the most out of your non-fiction reading time, you'll need a plan; a strategy.

I’ve been recently pushing myself to improve certain knowledge gaps. Whilst thinking about how to tackle the problem I ended up posing myself a question:
 
When have I made the biggest learning improvements in the past? How did I do it? And can I repeat that process?
 
The answer took me back to when I was a student …it was when I read non-fiction. a lot.

Plot twist! Your portfolio is not about you …

A subtle change in the way you set out your developer portfolio can make a huge difference for it's impact and reach.

For developers, portfolios have become more commonplace. Which in itself is a wonderful thing. It’s a great tool to showcase your work and your passion. I even believe it’s one of the best investments you can make as a developer. Especially if you’re starting out. But, I made a mistake when I created mine years ago. I wish I could go back and do things again. Because there is something that I’d change.

Why “Should you build your portfolio with code or a template?” is the wrong question

Asking which way to build your portfolio is only half the question: the real question is how do you deliver what the market demands.

If you want to step up your developer career you might be considering creating a portfolio. If you are, bravo! Having a portfolio immediately puts you ahead of the curve. So, you sit down with a coffee in hand and debate the best ways to create your website and a thought crosses your mind:
 
Do I create my portfolio in code, or do I use a template?
 
This question came up recently on a front end developer forum. The answers that emerged were short and shallow. Did they answer the question? Yes. Will they help the developer get hired? I’m not so sure.

The best software developers write, you should too

10 reasons you should write. Gain clarity over your thoughts, get better job satisfaction and accelerate your career.

The rules are changing. Especially for knowledge workers like software developers. It’s impacting how we should craft our careers. The opportunities and the tools we have are different to the years before. Writing platforms are one of these big shifts. We have the ability to share our ideas with large audiences. It’s simpler than ever. Mainstream media influence is yielding to the power of individual influencers. Only a handful of developers will identify this opportunity. Even less act on it.
If you insist on playing todays games by yesterdays rules, you’re stuck – Seth Godin, Tribes.

Why learning a new framework could damage your career.

Asking questions such as "Which framework should I learn?" is asking the wrong question. Instead, you should be asking, where should I spend my energy to improve my mastery.

 A water-tight career strategy for your personal brand is your most important asset. Having one will:
  • Guide your decision making
  • Lead you closer to fulfilment
  • Create more purpose in your work
It also puts the power back in your hands. You can write blogs, speak at talks, read books – these are all activities well within your power. With so much choice, how you spend your time has never been more important.