How I stay motivated and fight self-doubt

I love Tumblr. I love how people can ask questions. Oftentimes, they’re interesting and get me thinking.

Just the other day I received this question from another girl teaching herself how to code:

“I find that I read more about how to learn to code then I spend actually learning. How do I make that step from thinking to doing? Also, I find that I’m also filled with doubts about not being good enough? How do I overcome them and just start coding???”

While I don’t like hearing others feeling doubtful, it made me realize I am not alone. And this was my response.

Hey there,

Everyone is different. But here are a few things that keep me learning:

  • In my Google calendar, I have an “appointment” every day to practice whatever coding tutorial/course I am working through. (Right now it’s one month rails.) This reminds me daily to work on it.
  • If for some reason that day I don’t find time to work on my given book/tutorial, I don’t guilt myself. I tell myself that not getting to every thing on my “to-do” list is okay. Then the following day I try to spend some more time learning to makeup for the day before.
  • I also set a more long term goal, like “finish ___ course in thirty days.”

When it comes to reading about learning how to code to actually learning:

  • Again, I set longer term goals for myself to finish one set book or course by a certain date
  • Also for me, when I pay for something I feel like I have to do it or else I am losing money. Perfect example is one month rails. It costs $99. This price tag incentivizes me to finish the course. (Right now about halfway through — btw.)

When it comes to being filled with doubts and feeling not good enough:

  • Everyone has these feelings no matter what they are trying to learn/achieve.
  • I think for girls this feeling is especially pronounced. We can be really hard on ourselves sometimes.
  • Remember, everyone who is now a top-notch programmer or software developer has once been a beginner, too — you’re in good company

As you continue to code and progress, you will still have doubts. And others will doubt you, too.

For instance, I had a few experiences where others (who were more seasoned) made me feel like a total idiot for asking a certain question or writing a few lines of code a way that was not “correct” (even though the code worked).

Even worse, I had a family member (who works as a programmer) once tell me he didn’t think I would be good at it. And then a female colleague more recently say “being a developer is really, really hard …” (as if she was giving me some sort of warning…)

The point is, people are always going to suck. Some will try to distract you and act as a roadblock to your success. Even if their intentions are in the right place, don’t let them block your path. Keep your eyes ahead, act as though you’re wearing blinders and run your race.

In the end, I think learning how to code comes down to discipline and work ethic.

Sure, some people are naturally better programmers than others. It just makes sense to them. But nothing can ever compare to hard-work and the hours put in.

And remember, coding is really freaking hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. So pat yourself on the back for even trying. Seriously!

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