I’ve been trying to be on my own case this summer. Last summer I was in San Francisco, I was very comfortable - I took the last shuttle home (at 7pm!) every day, couldn’t do work at home (no VPN access for interns!), so did a lot of relaxing, watching Alias, and cooking.

I’d had the goal of going out and “doing the SF tech thing,” which to me at the time meant going to tech meetups and talks and meeting all sorts of cool people, and learning all sorts of cool things. Clearly, it didn’t happen.

So this year I’m trying something different. I’ve been much more proactive about getting out and talking to people - an interesting union of MIT friends in and out of the startup world, acquaintances with interesting backgrounds and experiences, and now and then the occasional stranger whose blog I find fascinating. (I hate the term networking. I prefer “being-enriched-by-the-wisdom-of”.)

While the first category of dinner partners definitely keeps me from feeling like I’m becoming a hermit, it’s the second two categories that are really pushing this summer and myself forward. I walk out of each of these dinners excited about everything I can and want to do, and even more convinced of the importance of constant self-improvement.

So. In the interest of committing myself to a number of things to achieve this goal, here goes the list:

  • Blog at least once a week. I’m going to set an alarm on my iCal and commit to posting something interesting I learned, or thought, or accomplished.
  • Read 1 ‘improvement’ book for every fun book. I’m in the middle of reading the LOTR series (for the first time!), and once I finish The Two Towers, until I finish a programming- or startup- or productivity-related book, I won’t let myself read Return of the King. Sniff.
  • Keep working a few nights a week on my side project (more later) - I feel like I need at least one or two non-school- or work-related projects under my belt before I can respect myself as a hacker. Or, as a lower standard, any sort of programmer.
  • Along that line of thought - be more disciplined about said project! Don’t just sit down and start coding. Plan out the project a little more (what do I want it to do? How should it behave?) and use version control / repo management tools as well.

(Side note: am still probably far too awkward to be going around meeting people and making these first impressions. Need to work on that, too - for now, just sadface)

(Last note: tonight’s conversation was described as “covering a lot of ground, both philosophically and academically.” Last week’s was described as “spontaneously deep conversation with strangers.” Good nights, both. :))

Let me know what you think on Twitter.