Dear Me: To a younger, inexperienced me 20 years ago

This post is a part of Dear Me, a Series

Happy 2020! A whole new decade is before us, what will you do with it?

I graduated high school in 1997, and did a little college here or there. I’ve been a developer since 1999 and shortly after that transitioned into consulting. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years! I feel old.

I am older than many of my colleagues, who I have great respect for, who do amazing work, and impress me frequently. I work with teammates who have less than half of my years of experience, and yet they blow my mind. I have been challenged and grown tremendously working with what other old folks may call “kids”. These people don’t surprise me, or scare me, I love the challenge to keep as up to date as I can. I love my job!

I have found my seniority has great value, too. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve seen a lot of challenges my clients have had to deal with. I’ve dealt with a lot of challenging people in my career, both coworkers and clients. I have had great wins and losses throughout it all. I don’t regret it, but if I could do some things better, I would.

As I celebrate my oldness, I want to share what I’ve learned along the way with you, with junior developers, with senior consultants, with anyone willing to learn a little more. We can all learn from one another, I hope to also learn from you. I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years will bring me. Please don’t hesitate to leave comments on my posts as we go!

During 2020, I am aiming to write one blog post a month that shares a piece of what I’ve learned. This won’t be technical, code stuff, but the softer side of work, the people side, the self side. Some of these will be lessons I wish I learned earlier, some will be decisions I made that worked out.

For 2020, be intentional

For 2020 – Be intentional, be purposeful. Don’t simply do because that’s what you do.

Be intentional, be purposeful. Don’t simply do because that’s what you do. As we look at 2020, and as I look back on 20 years, I wish I was more intentional.

I went through the motions for years, I was reactive about everything, having no plan or strategy, but simply responding to the next fire on my list. This is not a great way to work or live. Be intentional, make a plan, have real goals.

If this sounds familiar, if you’re in the fight of your life just to stay afloat and not burn out, reconsider what you’re doing and aim to be intentional. You can be intentional by finding your why. Deconstruct your day to day, your week to week, your goals, your priorities, your dreams. Break it all down and find your why. Why do you care? Why do you want to continue doing what you’re doing? What’s your why? Why does that matter? Why does your why matter? Revisit why you started down this path to begin with. This will take a little slow time, a little break from the fires. Let yourself have it, it’ll be more beneficial than you know!

Be intentional, make a plan, a strategy, set goals, etc. Whatever buzzy words you want to use, just do it. After you deconstruct and get to your roots of your why, now look forward and ask yourself how do I accomplish my why, how do I continue making sure I am meeting my goals in life. Make a plan to do it.

Then show up how you want to show up. Be intentional with how you come to work. Be intentional with how you engage your family and friends. Bring your whole you. Let your passions, hobbies, and interests outside of work come to work with you. Bring those passions and let it intertwine in your job.

When we bring our real selves, we let ourselves be vulnerable. We are being who we are on the inside, and not masking it with what we think others around us want to see. This can be really scary. You can do it, I promise! I spent many many years acting like how others act to ensure I don’t lose out, and although paying attention and learning from others is important, mimicking and mirroring others is not. Be yourself. Once I finally got there, a load was lifted off me, I had a less stress at work and in my life.

As you find your why and discover how you want to show up, challenge yourself to meet it. It may be easy at times, and hard at other times. Leverage your friends and trusted colleagues around you to hold you accountable, to provide feedback and help you grow. As we challenge ourselves to be intentional and show up with purpose we also inspire others around us to do the same.

As we challenge ourselves to be intentional and show up with purpose we also inspire others around us to do the same.

For 2020, be intentional, be purposeful, show up as you want to show up, and inspire others.

Ready for the next post?

The image for this post is a creation of my own. This is one way I am being more intentional by being more creative! I did trace a photo to get this, but it’s a start.

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