There's an old joke that goes, "What do you call a medical student that only gets a 'C' on his Board Examinations?" And the answer is "Doctor." How many of us wonder if our Doctor did well in school, or more to the point, has stayed abreast of new thinking, treatments, and prescriptions. We all kind of assume that our medicos read, go to conferences, and learn from their peers throughout their professional life.
Well, we're professionals. Yet, how many books have you read about your craft in the last year? I don't mean reference manuals, syntax bibles, or error logs. I mean books, articles, web sites, blogs (I guess this one would count - huh?), and other sources. Books about security practices, or development patterns, or performance tuning?
If you're thinking that the company hasn't sent you to training since.... stop! How would that sound to you if your doctor said they hadn't read a medical book in two years 'cause the insurance company wouldn't pay for it? You'd find another doctor. Your key to success, is based on experience and knowledge. Experience comes with time, but you can accelerate learning and knowledge. It's your career, your profession. Advance yourself.
Create a plan to read three books this year relative to your career, or the career you want. Then, walk on down to your local Barnes & Nobel, or check out Amazon.com and pick up a book on an IT related topic - something that will expand your thinking. If you aren't using Patterns in your development, that's a really great place to start. Patterns are the architecture of code. Here is a free on-line book about patterns in Java. Do you know what Model Driven Development is? What about SCRUM methodology? Can you recall the forms of database normalization? These are but a few topics - there are about a billion more.
Here are some examples: