A big topic that’s been making the rounds lately personally, around the office, and on the Internet is career planning and career path planning. Do you do it? Do you wish you did it? How do you do it? Do you use any tools or methodologies to do it? You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that says that setting goals is a bad thing. Even harder would be to find someone that says tracking progress toward those goals is a bad thing.
One of the common ways to document these goals and track progress toward meeting them in the SQL Server world is with a tool called a Professional Development Plan. If you mention a Professional Development Plan in the SQL Server work, that brings up one name: Andy Warren. Andy has done numerous talks and presentations over the years to spread the word of the Professional Development Plan to the masses and I’ve become a big believer in the system. But are there any other systems out there?
In talking with a coworker outside of the SQL Server world not long ago, he mentioned something similar — a Personal Development Plan outlined in a PDF from a company named MindTools. After speaking with him about it, I thought to myself “this sure does sound familiar” so I went to the website and subscribed to their newsletter in order to download the free PDF outlining what a Personal Development Plan is and the various worksheets to create one. While the process was a little bit too structured for me, there were some elements of it which I really liked, such as the Skills Audit, which I plan to incorporate into my personal Professional Development Plan template at some point (and will be linked to a future post). As their plan is free for the price of providing them an email address, I highly recommend downloading it and checking it out for ideas.
In reading an unrelated blog post the other day, I saw mention of an “Epic Life Quest.” Epic Life Quest? What is that? As it turns out, an Epic Life Quest is just another way of documenting achievements. While most of the examples I saw seemed to be a mix of career and personal achievements, I suppose you could easily choose to do one or the other rather than a mix (though a mix does make sense as personal life heavily influences career and vice versa.) The idea is pretty simple — you document your achievements, but in a way that you make a little game out of it. In the examples of others trying this, they commonly use 5 as the magic number. For each 5 achievements, you go up a level. Pretty simple stuff. Here are a couple of good examples I saw of these Life Quests. [The original], [Brent Ozar], [Derik Hammer], [George Stocker], [Andrew Notarian].
Learning about Epic Life Quests (of Awesome) got me to thinking. Peanut butter is good. Chocolate is good. But, if you combine them, you get a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup — which is great! What would happen if you combined some of the ideas of a Professional Development Plan with some of the ideas of an Epic Life Quest? A Professional Development Plan brings goal setting to the table. Both the PDP and the Life Quest bring goal tracking (achievements) to the table. The Life Quest brings the game aspect or “leveling up” aspect. They seem to be pretty compatible ideas.
So, how to combine them? Well, that’s a good question. For now, I’m going to eat a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup and I’ll leave the answer to a future post as I go to figure out that very thing. Stay tuned!