Bootcamp Mastery: Momentum — Be Like Your Accountant

So far, we’ve mostly talked about the intellectual aspects of getting the most from your coding bootcamp.

But learning anything new isn’t just intellectually hard. It’s emotional, too. Some days you will question your investment and whether you’re cut out to be a programmer. I sure did! These moments of self-doubt and fear are serious, and can derail an otherwise capable learner.

Somebody once said, “Creative people think like an artist and work like an accountant.” It’s supposed to inspire self-discipline and focus in pursuit of your creative calling.

Inspiration is overrated. Across any creative field, the truly stellar performers all work like accountants. They write/paint/study/build a little bit each day, whether they feel up to it or not. And they work in a state of deep concentration when they do so.

But “work like an accountant” is good advice for overcoming the emotional challenge of learning, too.

For me, the only way to get beyond the fear and self-doubt that accompanies any new learning adventure is through momentum. Nothing keeps me motivated like momentum. This doesn’t mean pulling off amazing feats of programming prowess each day. It does not mean working so-called ‘heroic’ 80 hour weeks.

It means moving the boulder up the hill even just an inch. The worst possible day for me is when I put my head on the pillow and I can’t think of a single improvement that I made to myself or my projects during that day.

When I can think of something, no matter how small, I can reassure myself that I did the work and can feel good.

Plus, productivity seems to breed more productivity.

For example, in Fullstack’s senior project phase I would often start the day by writing a blog post or cleaning up/refactoring my code from the previous day. These are easier tasks than trying to debug or build a new feature. But once I’ve written 20 minutes worth of words or made my code a little cleaner, I feel brighter and ready to take on the tough stuff.

By the way, this is the opposite approach to take on exams.

For exams, you should start with the hardest stuff first. Use the power of your subconscious to help you.

Once you’ve struggled a bit with a problem, you can turn away from that problem and your subconscious will still work away at that solution. You may find that a problem that seemed impenetrable when you first saw it on the test becomes obvious after turning your attention elsewhere for a little while. But this only works if you start on the hard problem first!

You can make it through! Especially if you work like an accountant.