October 4, 2014

Reflecting on 2014 with a letter from myself

At the end of Jon Bach's closing keynote at Let's Test 2014, we were each handed an envelope and a piece of paper, and asked to write a letter to ourselves, in which we would write all of the things that we would strive to achieve after the conference, while our motivation was high. The letter would then be delivered to us several months later, allowing us a progress-check on those promises.

And hey presto, mine dropped through the letterbox this morning!

![My Let's Test resolutions](/content/images/2014/10/IMAG0355_1.jpg)
My Let's Test resolutions

It seems like a little soon for a 2014 retrospective, but nevertheless, here's my honest analysis of how I think I've done.

[A-] Blog more

I didn't blog much before Let's Test (an average of 2 posts per month). That's increased 75% since the conference (up to 3.5 posts per month), with several very popular posts. My most-viewed posts so far have been:

  • What can the Hotel Hippo debacle teach us about testing? - Gained a lot of retweets in InfoSec circles, and contact from HotelStayUK's PR people, so this certainly created a wider reach than normal.
  • Let's Test 2014 in review - I think I was one of the first to publish my conference report, given that I published it from the airport in Stockholm, and at nearly 5000 words it's still the longest piece I've written so far, which speaks volumes about what a great time I had.
  • WTEU-47: A facilitator's report - A behind-the-scenes look at the first Weekend Testing Europe after our relaunch, discussing not only the session itself, but also the story of how Amy and I came to revive WTEU.

Why have I given myself a minus? Well, my drafts folder and Trello backlog are both significantly longer than I'd like, and in hindsight I've been guilty of significant procrastination on this front. I'm also looking to get my articles published on other sites (and I have a backlog of those, too!) so I think I'm there in effort, if not execution.

[A] Do a talk (@ NottsTest, @ Lean Coffee Cambridge)

I've not actually spoken at #NottsTest yet; I've got a couple of potential talks lined-up, and I've been to every NottsTest since Let's Test, but scheduling conflicts are preventing me from attending (and potentially presenting) at the November session. I'll try to get in early for December.

I've credited myself with an A, as I have spoken in Nottingham, at the recent MEWT event. That's pretty close! I've also attended the monthly Lean Coffee event in Cambridge, and in fact Towers Watson are hosting Cambridge Lean Coffee on 22nd October, which is more of a contribution than I really expected - well done to Gabrielle for organising it!

I'm also submitting proposals to speak at several 2015 events, and so far I have a unmaintainable 100% record - 1 for 1 (I'll be speaking at the TestBash Workshop Day - expect to hear a lot more about that in the months to come!)

[A] Get the Weekend Testing UK/EU up-and-running, help to facilitate it

In hindsight, the revived Weekend Testing Europe has come a long way, very quickly! It's just over four months since Let's Test, and we're currently planning for our fourth session. When I wrote the letter, my focus was very much on "helping to make it happen", but I had no idea just how important my role was going to be. There were a lot of people who helped along the way, as I mentioned in my original WTEU relaunch article, but (more than anything else I've worked on this year) Weekend Testing Europe has been absolutely pivotal to gaining myself some name (and face) recognition.

Things continue to go from strength to strength; we've already got enough session ideas planned-out to last us another year, and we're planning to take the Weekend Testing story on the road in 2015. You'll be seeing (and hearing) a lot more from us on this front!

[C+] Did I deliver useful information from Let's Test to my colleagues?

Meh. I don't want to dwell on this one. Let's just say, the plus is for the efforts that I made to deliver information (in terms of my summaries, recommended reading, and offers to give presentations about the best material I saw) and the C is for not being able to drum-up any real interest in hearing it. I'll leave it at that.

[A] Be happy

OK, so this one was partly added simply because I'd only written four things, and I needed a quick fifth before I signed-off :) However, there's a reason for it: I'd just finished reading Shawn Achor's excellent book The Happiness Advantage, after reading this excellent blog post from Rosie Sherry on the subject of seeking happiness. (Seriously, read it now, and watch the 12-minute TED talk within.)

It's a cliché, but Shaun's words changed my life, and gave me a new outlook on how I live it. I was keen to make sure that I continued to follow his advice, and through challenges at home and work, I've reaped the benefits of positivity: I've been happier, healthier, more motivated and more successful. Those things are closely interlinked.

Overall: B+

I think a B+ is a little harsh if I'm averaging grades, but it sums up my thoughts for the year gone by. I've done a lot - maybe more than I thought was possible of myself - but I can do more. In the run-up to the new year, I'll compose a similar letter to my 2016 self (using an online service such as FutureMe) and see if I can improve on my grade. It's going to be hard, as I've set myself a high benchmark!

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