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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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The New Years Resolution That Changed My Career

I made a New Years resolution about five years ago to read at least one technical article in full every day.

I seemed to already read a lot for my coding career in general, how can one not? But I was, and still am, a notorious skimmer. I am easily distracted and often don't truly read what I am reading.

So one year I decided to truly read articles online in full, and commit to it. I eventually fell off from the every day part of the resolution, but in getting involved I just learned so much—not just about the code, but about my career and the software industry in general. I learned about how blogging keeps the networked learning happening, and eventually it really did lead me to building this website,

I think of New Years resolutions as both corny and invaluable. It is a great time of year to reflect, look ahead, and identify the nudges you need.

It's January 2nd, and not too late to adopt truly reading as a goal. I am making it one of my resolutions again this year. My other resolutions include asking for help more often, and communicating my routine to others in order to set expectations.

Hope this helps somebody out there.

Top comments (37)

ryansmith profile image
Ryan Smith

That is a good one, I think we are in the "age of skimming" where people obtain information through titles and descriptions rather than reading the content in its entirety. I think the sheer amount of information available online can be overwhelming. Instead of going in-depth on one thing, we skim a variety of things to make sure we get it all. There is also the reason of "I don't have time" that we all tell ourselves, but articles usually take around five minutes to read (or have an "X minute read" indicator). I know I have that time to spare and I'm sure others do as well, we just need to focus our efforts a little more.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Yep, and I think there's a lot of value in skimming, or even just keeping plugged into the headlines.

For example, if you're floating around JavaScript land, you can kind of pay attention to the headlines and see some trends relating to TypeScript, maybe Svelte, React Hooks, etc. There's value in staying tuned into the headlines, but if you don't have the discipline to go in depth as well, you really don't know much of anything at the end of the day.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel 🕵🏻‍♂️ Fayard

@ben there should be a serenity prayer for skimming vs really reading

God, grant me
Serenity to set aside the things that are not valuable to me right now,
Courage to deeply read what I had intended to read,
And wisdom to keep those two activities separate.

(personally I'm still struggling)

pavelloz profile image
Paweł Kowalski

Another one is "multitasking" to save time. I hate this so much... the number of times i had to repeat myself, over and over, because people on video call are doing something "in the background" made me skip 99% of meetings altogether - its just pure waste of time.

Anyone who thinks he/she is good at multitasking is just plain wrong. Do one thing, but do it good, instead of doing 3 things badly.

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

That is a good one, I think we are in the "age of skimming"

I literally read the first line of this post and scrolled down to the comments.

swarupkm profile image
Swarup Kumar Mahapatra • Edited

In today's world of "deliver fast" and "full stack" expectations, Software Engineers don't have time to hone their skills in one particular technology. Hence the habit of skimming and reading tips/tricks is more prevalent.I am guilty of it.

attkinsonjakob profile image
Jakob Attkinson

Can you show us an example of technical article you mentioned in the introduction?

I'm trying to figure out how to better curate what I'm reading and only choose those articles that provide value to me. However, it's hard to know unless I have a couple of examples to guide myself

ogaston profile image
Omar Gaston Chalas

Wow, it seems you were talking to me. I do this often, I just read a little of the articles just to know what they are about. But today I will change my mindset and focus on reading and fully understanding what I am reading.

Thanks Ben, this new challenge has been added to my New Year Resolution list.

melaniephillips profile image
Melanie Phillips

Thanks so much, what a great idea! Too often resolutions are so complicated that they don't set people up for success. I made a similar resolution a few years ago and it turned into a habit I still have; no devices for the last hour before bed, just reading. It instantly made me read books I thought I didn't have the time for and I felt more relaxed before bed. Simple = success!!!

roelofjanelsinga profile image
Roelof Jan Elsinga

That's inspiring! Did you seek out articles to be a specific topic or was it anything that sounded interesting?

I have trouble reading things that sound interesting, but aren't related to what I already know and work with.

mike_hasarms profile image
Mike Healy

I like this.

I partially blame the skimming habit on the proliferation of articles that begin with two completely pointless paragraphs. Not such an issue on of course, but elsewhere they are a menace.

bellonedavide profile image
Davide Bellone

That's similar to the 30ArticlesForNovember challenge I made, well, last November! It's really helpful, and it's even better when you have a look at other articles from the same author: you will discover pure gold!

grsahil20 profile image

@ben after reading your article now I can definitely do

  1. Read 1 article to fullest a day.
  2. Write more, without thinking too much if it would look nice or will be in league with other regular writers or authors.
itsasine profile image
ItsASine (Kayla)

My "resolution" of sorts is to have my to-read list empty by the end of the year, so reading about 5 articles a day. Though I'm breaking it down monthly to slowly ramp up. Like, yesterday I played Stardew Valley and read 2, which is good enough for January.

My Reading List is up to 1890 at this moment. So yeah... need to chip away at that. I'm not making a distinction between "articles" and #discuss, since there's super valuable stuff in the comments that shouldn't be penalized for not being a part of a full post. Skimming is also allowed since I may not remember why I thought something was worth saving 2 years ago so it might not be super important now :)

094459 profile image
Ricardo Sueiras

I started this a couple of years ago and mix it up with reading a post in depth, including following sub links or doing additional research if I am not familiar with a part of the post (which means that a 10 min read can end up taking about 30 or 45 mins), to watching a tech video on YT or writing a small piece. I think the key thing is to do something small and do it consistently.

fahtherbear profile image
Cody G

Slowing down and actually understanding content and how things work I feel will soon be highly prized skills. We operate with programs and things that allow us to not actually understand how things are getting done. Libraries, automation software, frameworks, etc. They are all amazing and useful but when they fail or bug out, we are often left having to try and find customer support, read forums, and deep dive tech papers in a crunch. The ones the really rise to the top, from what I've seen, are the ones that use those thing but understand how they work. When they break, these people fix or already have a work around. That's game chnager status

sibi profile image
sibi • Edited

Thanks for the writing @ben . I made a resolution last year to contribute more open source works. When I say 'contribute', I really want to understand and learn from other codebases. And I can proudly say that I have a rough understanding of codebase and have made a contribution too. This year I focus more towards on continuing that journey and come out of my comfort zone. I am already excited about that 😀

vaibhavkhulbe profile image
Vaibhav Khulbe

This really helps. I didn't make any resolution of a sort but I always had a passion to read. Be it a book or an article online. Therefore, I first read developer-related articles initially, then took interest in more career/job-related ones which included topics like productivity, health and life.

This eventually led me to write my first article on Medium (2-3 years ago). It was not related to dev but I was determined to write and learn more by reading articles day-by-day.

Reading is such an important aspect of our lives and being a developer we know what value it has in our industry.

gogulaanand profile image
Gogulaanand • Edited

Thanks for this Ben! A different perspective than what I had of new year resolutions. I used to believe that resolutions if need should be implemented with immediate effect and not just from jan1. But, "It is a great time of year to reflect, look ahead, and identify the nudges you need." is a good point 👌

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