Having a continuous learning mindset is very important. To reap the most benefits we should make a plan and have goals on what to learn.

Time bound goals

Wanting to learn new things or accomplish something without a deadline may end up being wishful thinking. If we set a date and a goal we have better chances of achieving it. Imagine that we want to learn Japanese. It’s important to time bound that goal. If we instead say that we want to learn Japanese in one year we start to have a clear picture of what we’ll need to invest in terms of our routine.

Another thing to consider is the level we’ll aiming at. So a better learning goal would be: be able to watch a movie in Japanese without subtitles and understand most of it, in a year.

Read more about the importance of setting goals.

Be aware of business as usual

When we start in a new company or project we may be learning a lot. We may be learning new technologies but we’ll surely be learning the project business rules, the current structure, the decisions taken, etc. But this learning will be decreasing over time. So, in 6 months we may not be learning that much, and instead we’ll be at a peack of performance and productivity.

So what to do then? We may have some tasks that push for learning, and we’ll be lucky if that’s the case. If that’s not the case, then we should invest in having other means of learning.

The quarterly training plan

In my one-on-ones I try to come up with training goals for each quarter. Usually we have some long term objective to aim for. I try to ask my mentee to come up with the training plan based on his interests and also on added value to the project and to the company.

But from my experience it’s very hard for us to delineate a training plan and implement it. Specially more junior people may struggle, because they don’t have much experience on the problems they’ll face.

It’s always hard to search for answers for problems that we don’t have experienced yet.

Focusing on a quarter allow us to have some time to implement the plan and be able to fine tune it over the year.

Plan templates

If it’s hard to create a custom plan for someone, we can start with a predefined template. I find this very useful for newcomers. For example, imagine the following training plan for a Java backend developer.

Quarter 1

Quarter 2

Quarter 3

Quarter 4


The previous template is just an example. We may have people that prefer a slower pace, and people that demand a faster one. We may have people that don’t like to read and prefer to attend meetups. Rather than a template set in stone this is just a guide that we should customize.

Having similar resources does have it advantages. The team starts to have common vocabulary and it’s easy to present references.

We should also have a plan for each area, and may be hard for a line manager with a backend background to come up with a plan for a designer, frontender or quality engineer. In this case we should ask for feedback and start testing options. And keep fine tuning them.


By following a plan we can reach the end of a year, look back, and clearly see our path and everything we achieved. But we also need time to invest on this and the company should help here.

I also try to push people out of their comfort zone by suggesting doing blog posts or even talks.

But all this is hard. It’s hard to come up with a plan, and it’s hard to actually implement it. For example, I’m very good at motivating people to learn new things and follow the training plan. But I actually lack a training plan of my own. In this situation having a good mentor and peers may help a lot.

I do believe that the main point of having a training plan is to foster good learning habits. And I do have some that I value: I read a book every month. I iterate on technical books and other books. Starting to read and keeping it as a habit is something that I always try to push for.