Software Developer New Year Checklist

A checklist to help software developers get the new year 2023 kicked off successfully and boost their careers!

New Year Checklist
New Year Checklist

If you are focused on the following as you start the new year, you are definitely focused on career-boosting activities:

  1. setting goals
  2. considering common coding concerns
  3. getting results
  4. focused on short-term and long-term technology
  5. prioritizing

Let's review how each can set you up for success as you move into the new year.

#1 Set Goals

Set some goals for yourself for 2023. These goals can be as informal or as formal as you want. When you write down your goals, this has a dramatic impact on actually accomplishing something!

Writing down your goals:

  • gives you something concrete to shoot for
  • serves as a guidepost to keep you focused
  • helps prevent analysis paralysis and keeps you moving towards your goals
  • enables you to remember that perfect is the enemy of good enough

When you create goals, focus on both success and fun. There's no point in setting success goals if the grind to get you there isn't also fun.

#2 Consider Common Coding Concerns

A big part of your job is to always be thinking about the common coding concerns that need to be considered in everything you are creating.

No matter your programming language, platform, or framework, there are common coding concerns that must be considered. These universal things are:

  1. security
  2. maintainability
  3. resiliency
  4. patterns & practices

When you consider these universal coding concerns, you improve your code, your organization's code, and your career-boosting opportunities overall.

#3 Get Results

Accomplish things. Finish work. Complete tasks. Get results. It sounds amazingly simple but it's also amazingly powerful. You may not realize it but those items are in that order for a reason.

Accomplish thing - ok so what. You accomplished things but were those the right things? Necessary things? Things that helped meet stated goals?

Finish work - ok that's better. You are finishing what you started. But again is this just any work or is it work that supports stated goals?

Complete tasks - ok now we're doing better. Tasks infer that they are part of a larger plan.

Get results - now we're really focused and delivering. By getting results, we are delivering what we need to be delivering for our own project or for our organization's project.

So focus on getting results. Sometimes that's by doing it yourself. Often that is by working as a team. You may need to manage or motivate others. You may need to help teach others what they need to know to do their part better. So do it. Build up those around you and get results. This will boost your project and boost your career.

#4 Focus on Technology

As a software developer, you are very involved in technology. So stay constantly focused on it. Consider separating your focus into short-term and long-term technology concepts.

Short-term technology focus may be specific to the project or product you are currently working to deliver. This focus may include the languages, libraries, frameworks, tools, platforms, CI/CD pipelines, monitoring, and even hardware technology necessary to deliver and support the project or product.

But just as important as the technology itself is the collaboration that happens around that technology. The concepts of collaboration and mentoring to successfully apply that technology is as important or more important than the technology itself.

The same applies to long-term technology focus. Here, your focus may be more on upcoming version upgrades to languages,  libraries, or platforms. You need to be looking at new trends in software development or technologies that impact your specific vertical focus or the specific vertical of your organization.

And here too, the collaboration that happens around upcoming technology changes is critical to success. Collaboration, mentoring, research & development, and prototyping are very important in successfully identifying and applying new technology.

#5 Prioritize

There are certain unwritten laws. Often challenged. But as of yet unchanged and still laws. Some examples include:

  1. gravity
  2. there will always be change
  3. there will always be more work than you have time to do

Because there always seems to be more work than time and resources, you need to always prioritize.

As a software developer, you need to learn how to effectively prioritize and ensure that you are always working on the right things at the right time. When you aren't working on the right thing, you are working on the wrong thing.

Don't agree with that? Think I'm jumping to an invalid corollary? Here's why I say when you aren't working on the right thing, you are working on the wrong thing:

  1. programmers should never code something before it's necessary
  2. programmers want to code only what is necessary to deliver a requirement
  3. requirements change - all the time
  4. if you aren't working on the right thing, based on priority, you break at least one if not all three of the above three statements and you are creating technical debt

Creating technical debt is not how you want to start out the new year, and not how you want to boost your software engineer career.

BONUS Considerations

Here are 3 more things to consider as a software developer focused on a successful career in the new year.

#6 Master Team Dynamics

Don't get caught up in office politics. Here's a helpful tip. It's easy to avoid office politics by staying focused on delivering results. Help the entire team get results and you'll be surprised at the reduction in office politics.

#7 Make Reviews Meaningful

Don't sit back and just let performance reviews happen to you. Take an active role in your reviews and make them a meaningful part of your career-boosting plan. Engage in your reviews. Come with questions and ideas. Map them against the goals you have set for yourself.

#8 Update Your Goals Regularly

Times change. The world changes. People change. You change. So your goals should change too. Review and update your goals regularly to ensure you have valid goals that are current with the times and with your needs and interests. Always ensure you have goals you are excited about and that are driving you forward.

Happy New Year

That wraps up our last post for 2022. I wish everyone a wonderful and safe new year and I hope you are creating a plan for a successful 2023 software engineer career. Happy new year!