The Year That Was, The Year That Will Be

“If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” – William H. Johnsen

“No! Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

2011 was a successful year, but not what I would consider to be “wildly” successful. Don’t get me wrong – I did do some good things. But a lot of what I did was to lay the foundation for great things to come. A few examples:

  • At work, I moved a number of databases from SQL 2000 to SQL 2008 R2. Our data warehouse was among those. I also rebuilt our data warehouse’s nightly load routines in SSIS, learning a lot about that tool in the process.
  • I began a short “Tool Time” segment in our monthly PASS meetings, mostly to expose our members to some great tools that are out there, but also partly to give myself experience in presenting short topics.
  • I made great progress in clearing a rather large backlog of tasks, both at work and at home, to allow more time for more productive endeavors.
  • I began running, finally achieving a 5K in September.

I have no doubts that 2012 can be an even better year if I set some goals for myself. This is something I’ve never really been good at, and I always seem to come up with excuses why I shouldn’t take the time. As I get older, though, I realize more and more that it is an important exercise. After all, if I don’t know where I’m going, how can I possibly expect to get anywhere I want to go?

With that in mind, I’m going to follow the lead of some others in the SQL community and use a few “watchwords” to organize my thoughts:

Watchword: Focus

  • Go on an information diet. This is a recent buzzword, but the concept behind it (as I understand it) seems to make sense. It’s all about reducing the flow of the proverbial firehose to separate the signal from the noise. I’ve always had a lot of clutter in my digital life. If I’m going to be able to attack some of my other goals, I first have to get this under control.
  • Strive for Inbox Zero… and keep it there. The latter has always been a much bigger problem for me. I tend to use my inbox as a to-do list since it’s right in front of me. The problem then becomes identifying what needs to be done when, which wastes time and energy. I can definitely find a better way to keep track of tasks.
  • Reduce my backlog. I tend to hang onto tasks, sometimes much longer than they’re useful, in an effort not to let people down. That’s pointless, though; after a certain amount of time, I’ve already let that person down if what I said I’d do isn’t done. Getting rid of what’s no longer useful will allow me to focus on what’s still relevant.

Watchword: Learn

  • Attend SQL Skills IE1 in April. No brainer – I’m already registered for the class, and I’m really looking forward to it!
  • Read at least one career-related book per quarter. Even though this sounds easy, it could be one of my more challenging goals.  I haven’t had a lot of time for reading recently.
  • Upgrade my MCITP to SQL Server 2008.

Watchword: Create

  • Begin posting regularly. I’m making the blogging too difficult.  I need to get in the habit of posting something on a regular basis, even if it just a list of links.  From what I’m told, the more I write, the easier it gets.
  • Create at least one presentation this year; deliver it at least twice.

And finally, even though it’s not one of my watchwords, I might as well lay out my goals for running. I’m really enjoying that – amazing, considering my history with exercise – so I want to make sure I keep it going. These aren’t overly demanding goals, but they are manageable for me.

  • Run at least three times per week.
  • Increase to at least 20 miles per week this year.
  • Run at least three races this year, at least one of which is a 10K.


Ed Leighton-Dick helps small and midsize businesses solve their most challenging database performance, resiliency, and data security issues at Kingfisher Data, the consulting firm he founded in 2014. He has taught thousands of people at over 200 events, including the world's largest Microsoft data platform conferences, and he has been a leader in the Microsoft data community since 2008. Microsoft has recognized Ed seven times as a Data Platform MVP for his expertise and service to the data community.