Villegas Views: New Year, New You, New Tech Comm

by Danielle Villegas on 22 January 2014

With a new year, new resolutions are abound. Usually new year’s resolutions are along the lines of spending more time with family, getting in more exercise, or the most popular of all, losing weight (or in my case—all of the above). I’ve gotten to a point where making, or rather keeping, resolutions is hard, so I’ve chosen to tweak these into New Year’s goals instead. While I still try to lose the weight and the other usual goals, I usually try to make it a goal to learn or do something new for the year. About ten years ago, it was learning how to knit. In more recent years, it’s been a matter of learning new skills or taking steps that will help me with my tech comm career. Sometimes I’m able to reach my goal, and sometimes I’m not. Sometimes, I’ll learn something I hadn’t set out to learn, but I’m glad I learned nonetheless.

Case in point—2013 was a banner year for reaching goals for me. I had decided that it was my goal to attend at least one conference and go to the STC Summit. I also decided that I wanted to continue with my education somehow. I made a plan to try to learn and become certified in Adobe Muse. I also made the decision that I wanted to try to see if I could do a tech comm-related presentation. Additionally, I decided to work on getting more involved with STC activities.

I generally got most of this accomplished. I actually made it to two conferences—the STC-PMC Mid-Atlantic Conference in Philadelphia, and LavaCon in Portland. I actually presented for the first time at the STC-PMC conference, so I made it over that hurdle. In fact, I was invited to do two more STC-related webinars towards the end of the year, which seemed to go well. I did make it to the STC Summit, and had a fantastic time networking and learning. (If you look up my posts from the past year in the Tag Cloud to the right, you’ll find out all about my adventures there.)  I took a summer graduate course at my alma mater, NJIT,  to get proposal writing skills under my belt. And I have gotten more involved, slowly but surely, with my local STC chapter.  The one thing I didn’t do was get that Muse certification. But that’s okay, since I was busy with all these other activities.

So, what’s the goal for this year? I’m already planning on two conferences and the STC Summit again, but perhaps I’ll squeeze in a third conference if I can. I’m thinking of trying to learn more about WordPress; I already use it for my blog, but I want to understand more about the possibilities for using it as a content management system interface or even for websites in general. I’m hoping to connect more to technical communicators around the world and learn more from them. I don’t know if I’ll take a course this year, but perhaps it’s time for me to pursue teaching others more, and that might be done through doing more presentations. (I’m doing my first really big one at the Summit this year!)

The year is full of possibility, even with the first month of the new year almost completed. What kind of goal can you still make for yourself? The technology world is moving very fast, so you don’t want to fall behind if you can help it. Perhaps it’s taking an STC webinar or course this year that can help you bring more to your game. Maybe it’s attending some local STC chapter meetings—or getting to a conference, or—dare I say—the STC Summit in Phoenix this year? Maybe it’s something a little more low key, such as taking a course on Lynda.com to brush up on your skills. Whatever it might be, I suggest that making a new year’s resolution—or goal—to help yourself learn something that can help boost your career. I promise it will be fulfilling. You’ll feel better about yourself, and you will grow in the process.

And it’s easier than being on a diet, as you can still have chocolate on the menu.

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