T-SQL Tuesday #97 – My learning plan


This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by…er..yours truly. I picked a topic that usually comes up for me every December – learning goals for the next year. This is the first time that I am blogging about it.

Usually this review is accompanied by a strange combination of imposter syndrome, guilt and thoughts like ‘how about not having goals’,’who cares’,’I want to retire’,’I am never going to be as good as so-and-so’ and so on. In short, it has rarely been a pleasant experience.  A lot of people me included, want to learn a lot in the little time we have. We underestimate other life challenges that get in the way, and also our own power to assimilate and actually use what we learn.  We also have different degrees of focus and methods of learning that work for us and there is no one fit for all. This year I decided to be more pragmatic and take all of those things into consideration while making a learning plan. I took into consideration below:

1 I can devote about an hour a day to learning on a normal day – this excludes days when I am on call and have had a late night, or some kind of a personal stressful situation.
2 I learn best by in person classes, followed by podcasts and videos.
3 My areas of interest are wide – DBA work with BI/Data visualisation. I need to pick what I want to learn carefully.
4 I consolidate well when I apply at work(true for almost everyone), teach/present and blog.
5 I network better in small crowds and familiar places.
6 I usually walk for about an hour in the evening. I can use that time to listen to podcasts.
7 My ‘lab time’ is the time I spend actually putting what I learn to actual practice – is typically about 2-3 hours late Saturday afternoon.

Keeping all this in consideration, my plan is as below:What to learn:My areas of focus are as below:

  • SQL Server: Azure, Powershell and Extended Events
  • Non SQL Server: CosmosDB or MongoDB, Beginner Level Python, Mid level R
  • Data Visualisation: PowerBI
  • Certification: Microsoft Professional Program in Big Data

How to learn:

1 Pluralsight will be my main tool to begin with since it is easy and affordable. The goal is to try and get in 1 hour of pluralsight training per day on good days.
2 I will be attending select sql saturday precons as a second option, particularly for Azure and Data Science related training. I’ve set aside a budget for this and will only be able to do those events that fall within the budget. Chances are that none may.
3 I will be watching PASS Summit recordings and Ignite recordings for additional info. I don’t consider either of these as in depth learning but more as informative sessions.
4 I will be using Edx for the Microsoft Professional Program in Big Data.
5 I will be attending TechOutbound (formerly SQL Cruise) in March and the PASS Summit later in the year for networking. Additional networking will be possible with sql saturdays if they happen – most definitely with my own sql saturday event in July.
6 I found a treasure of podcasts that are out there that I can listen to on my evening walk. My favorite site for them is sqldownunder, by Greg Low. But there are several others – list here. These are my insurance that I get *some* learning in even if all the rest of the stuff does not work out. Listening during exercising is easy and exercising is something I do with a passion.

How to apply:
1 I am somewhat limited in terms of how much I can travel, for many reasons. So, I will be presenting at several virtual chapters and also user groups that allow remote presentation. Right now the goal is 5 presentations, more depending on time.
2 I plan to blog at the rate of one blog post per week. I’ve come to this as a result of a lot of experimentation and this works well for me. Every other week will be a non technical post since I have a lot of non technical info to blog about.
3 I do not consider application of learning to work as something I can blog about, so not writing more on that.

I also plan to journal weekly on how I did in the past week and tune myself as I go.By ‘journal’ I don’t mean writing pages – just a simple excel sheet where I review what I learned versus what I wanted to learn. If I go for three weeks without meeting any goals I am doing something wrong and need to re adjust. Am hoping to keep my pace with this better and do better as I go.  I think this is vitally important. It is not a bad thing that we failed to meet our goals but it may be bad if we never even considered tracking our progress through an entire year.

One of my favorite movie scenes is from ‘Gone with the wind’, where there is a garden clock with the lines ‘Do not squander time, it is the stuff life is made of’..right next to it is a cat sleeping blissfully. That sums up time management in general – you can’t force it. You have to take little steps, be consistent, and factor in all the other things that go into how you use your time. I hope to be better at it this year than I was in the years before.










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