Those close to me know that my motivation above all else is to learn.
It wasn’t until at 20, around the time I began to learn to program, that I finally realised this and took the course “Learning How to Learn”.
Fortunately, I chose to do something for a living that requires me to constantly learn; whether working on side projects, reading books and articles or taking part in an online course, developers must continuously seek out opportunities to learn.
This year I left my job because I didn’t feel I was learning enough and took a 4 month break to learn skills that I could use to apply for other kinds of jobs. I didn’t accomplish all of what I set out to, but I did take part in Startup School during which I continued to further my understanding of business and startups including how to validate and test ideas, talk to users and formulate my business pitch. But most importantly, I identified the need for a cofounder should I ever decide to start a company.
Something I hadn’t realised when I wrote my original blog post on my experience in Startup School was that it helped me better understand my motivation to work and procrastinate less. Techniques like breaking larger problems into a set of smaller ones or minimising the obstacles to accomplishing a task were helpful in improving my productivity, but most useful was understanding that my desire to work was an average of all my motivations, both personal and professional. In 2020, I focus on discipline.
Reflecting on the months I spent out of full-time employment, I learned humility in the face of being rejected from some of the companies I’d wanted to work for. I learned about the importance of sleep and rest (and the link between sleep and stress) and about maintaining friendships.
This year I improved my fitness by learning how to run, pushing myself harder physically than ever before. I learned how to run over longer distances (taking part in the Bournemouth Half Marathon) by introducing intervals, tempo runs and sprints into my workouts. With fitness in mind, I also moderated my diet.
I was fortunate enough to be able to learn about other cultures through travel abroad. While in Florence I learned about the manufacture of parmiggiano reggiano cheese, making different types of pasta (and cooking other types of Italian food), Renaissance painting, sculpture and architecture (coincidentally I’m reading Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci biography currently) and winemaking in the Chianti region; In Lisbon with my family I learned about Portuguese food; In Amsterdam with friends I learned about how Heineken beer was made.
And finally, this year I continued to read. The books I most enjoyed this year were Donna Tart’s “The Secret History” and “What You Do Is Who You Are” by Ben Horowitz, with “Only the Paranoid Survive” by Andy Grove getting a worthy mention.
In 2020 I hope to read more books, but even moreso I hope to continue to have intellectual curiosity and procure new skills and relationships.