I've been having an amazing week at work, onboarding a new hire (and feeling pretty good about getting it right), working on hiring another, and having good moments with my team. I'm also getting set to speak again at Orlando Code Camp in April, and I'm doing a talk on hiring and getting hired. It got me to thinking about the tear I've been on for the last eight years, and how it started.
While 2009 was a terrible year to find work in my field while living in Cleveland, and that caused a ton of anxiety, it ended up being awesome when it was all said and done. That summer was fun because I was making enough money on my sites to sustain me and more than cover my mortgage. The economy may have sucked, but ad revenue was good in those days. More importantly, the involuntary time off gave me a chance to invest in myself. That was a huge turning point for me. It was the year I actively started managing my career instead of letting it happen to me. It ended with me moving to Seattle on Microsoft's dime.
Almost eight years later, I remember the job anxiety, but mostly I remember how much I was learning. I was like a sponge. I certainly had the time, so I did my best to dig in and learn all that I could about the emerging technologies and patterns that would make me better at what I did. There is no question in my mind that these actions are what set me up for years of success from then on. (I made a cosmically stupid decision to move back to Cleveland in the middle of all that, but one of these days I'll let that go.)
This brief walk down amnesia lane is relevant to the talk I have to give, and I don't think it applies to just my field. Investing in yourself, really spending the time to learn new things, will have incredible return on investment. I'm not talking about doing things for yourself, I'm talking about doing the work to make yourself better. It's not even something to narrow in scope to your career. You can learn virtually anything, and that includes being a better parent and a spouse. The results are tangible.