As we all know, the web industry moves quickly and if you don’t keep up with it, you may look around one day and feel as if everything has changed overnight. While that may be a terrifying idea to some, I find it quite fascinating that I truly can never say that I’m ‘bored’ with my profession. There will always something new to learn. Whether it be a new language, a better way to construct code, an improved workflow, or new design techniques.

However, while the prospect of endless ways to improve in my industry is exciting it can be just as frustrating depending on how busy your life may be. There usually just isn’t enough time to keep up with this fast paced industry. The wish list of projects to start and articles to learn from quickly grows and very few items may ever get crossed off.

As someone with a full-time job, a family, some spattering of freelance work, and guilty of needing to sleep, it can be quite challenging to find the time to continue my professional development in areas outside of my current skill set. So instead of attempting to take on more than I could handle, I came up with three goals that would help strengthen the skills I already had, and help push me along the way to learning some new ones.

1 – Commit and Contribute

My first goal is to carve out a little time each day to explore open source projects on GitHub. The goal is not just to observe though. I actively search for repos that I can fork and contribute to. Whether it be design, or strictly CSS/Sass additions and bug fixes. I aim to create a pull request at least once every two weeks.

So far I’ve contributed to five different projects and have had the secondary benefit of getting to explore these repositories and familiarising myself with aspects of PHP, Ruby and JavaScript libraries.

2 – Write write and write some more

I am not comfortable writing. However I know the only way I’ll get better at writing is if I keep at it. So for 2014 I’ve given myself the goal of producing at least one article a month. This article obviously being one of them.

I’m going to stick to what I know, which is pretty standard practice, and try my hand at writing short, informative pieces on various aspects of design and front-end development. I’d like to produce demos along with the pieces I write, which will help me continue to practice what I’ve learned or am learning. Hopefully what I have in mind will be helpful to others.

3 – Make time for Side Projects

Side projects are important for any designer or developer. They provide an outlet for creativity and a place to apply skills and techniques that may not be required outside or one’s normal work. I know plenty of people that have ideas they want to get off the ground, as well as having a few projects of my own that I’d like to start. So this year I aim to spec out three different projects of my own as well as partner up with others to contribute to their side projects.

I know that I will only be able to provide a limited amount of time to each of these, as I clearly am aiming to accomplish a lot this year while not sacrificing quality time with my family. So that’s why I’m only aiming to spec out my own projects. If they’re really good ideas, they’ll still be really good ideas by the time I get to actually work on them. And as far as contributing to other people’s projects, I will only contribute what I can and be very careful not to over promise my level of commitment.

These three goals should be more than enough to make sure I’m never bored this year. I hope this article inspired you to create some goals for your own. After all, you don’t need to wait for the New Year to start a track of self improvement. It just so happened that’s when the pieces fell into place for me this year.