“Who knows what that’ll be next year, but if it’s anything like this one, it’ll be good.”
Hmm. I think we all had a hard time predicting how 2020 would turn out. While I count myself lucky that it wasn’t exactly bad for me, personally, it certainly didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.
I’ve always been one to seize – and create – opportunities, and try to make the most of given situations. Early in my testing career, this meant using social media and blogging to make a name for myself in the community, collaborating with other content creators, and speaking at different events around the world. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic gave me the opportunity to do something I’ve been talking about for a while: do less.
Doing less is something I’ve struggled with in the past. A mixture of enthusiasm, passion, and a desire to participate and share has long been at odds with not wanting to burn out; to take enough time to rest, and not be constantly thinking about commitments and deadlines. It’s the curse that comes with the gift of loving what you do. At the start of 2020, I told myself I wouldn’t submit to any conferences, and that I’d be really selective with any that I chose to participate in. But by the time February came around, I’d already agreed to speak at three events taking place within a few weeks of each other. I felt both success and failure.
So I must admit a sense of relief when, in March, these events began to get cancelled or postponed. I understand it’s been really tough for the organisers and a lot of other people involved, and I would never wish such disruption or difficulty on them. But with this, I was given a clear opportunity, which I decided to take. Despite requests to move talks online, create online courses, or collaborate on blogs, I finally made a real commitment to myself: no blogs or talks in 2020. I’m really happy to say that this is something I achieved, and I plan to continue this for as long as I feel like. I don’t have any need or want to schedule a “comeback”, so I’ll just consider every opportunity as it comes and make sensible decisions about whether I really want to go through with them at that time.
With this blog series, I usually post my reflections around the turn of the year, but I just didn’t want to write it until now, so I didn’t. That feels pretty good, and right.
I’ve had opportunities in my day-to-day working life too, and despite the last year seeming like more of a blur than others, I’m pleased that I can still look back and think about new things I’ve done.
Towards the end of last year, I took over the project lead role on an existing project, and continued testing as well. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, as I’ve always had an aversion to any role that’s “too management-y” (especially where it involves people management), or “too hands-off”. But it turned out to be a really good experience. I worked with a great team that I already knew, on a project with one of the nicest clients I’ve ever had, so it was a great environment for dipping my toes in the water. Of course, it wasn’t without its challenges, but I see that as part of the fun and value. I get bored otherwise, so this opportunity had a great mixture of characteristics which allowed me to branch out and learn, without feeling overwhelmed.
My role in my current project is a bit different to what I’m used to as well. I joined an existing team of people who were already very engaged in testing and quality, where everyone pitches in to in-sprint testing, and there was no dedicated tester. Here, my role is closer to quality coach and, while I really love my closest experience to whole team quality so far, I’m still adjusting to the feeling that I’m not directly contributing to stories or sprint goals. I can still see where I add value, and where I can provide more support, but there is a little bit of a mental shift that I haven’t fully made yet. It’s still early days for me on this project though, and I’m enjoying it so far.
I could reflect and write more, but I don’t feel like it, so I won’t.
What opportunities did you take advantage of in 2020, or what silver linings did you find?