Programming Beginner’s Guide for Demotivation

Some days you feel like maybe you shouldn’t program because you’re too dumb to understand it in the first place. Or maybe you have personal issues causing anxiety and distracting you from fully focusing on your studies. Whatever the reasons for demotivation, here are three tips as a fellow beginner myself surviving:

#1 Find Inspiration

When I feel like crap and unable to produce anything useful, I love looking at other people’s works and get in the spirit of “Wow, I didn’t even know that was possible” or “This is amazing, I need to do better in order to create stuff like that.”

This week, these articles provided me with examples that did just that:

(1) 15 Stunning Data Visualizations (And What You Can Learn From Them)

(2) The 25 Best Data Visualizations of 2018

(3) 9 Best Website Layout Examples and Ideas for Web Design in 2018

What I like to do after reading these articles is go through the list and finding specific examples I like. I then post them on my tumblr (data visualization, web design) for future reference, because in my opinion, your personal style is an accumulation of what you surround yourself with. As Austin Kleon wrote in his book ‘Steal Like An Artist’:

“The artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively. They only collect things that they really love.”

#2 Build a Road Map

When I feel unmotivated — instead of forcing myself to code—I like to review my progress so far to remind myself that even if I do suck, I didn’t suck enough to get where I am now. There are many ways you can track your progress, but I personally love reading articles written by other self-taught developers documenting their journey. Everyone’s journey is unique, but one common message stands out: Keep going no matter what. That makes me feel less crappy about my lack of skill and stay consistent even on days when I don’t feel like coding.

Here are some great articles about what you need to do to become a web developer that I found extremely helpful and motivating:

(1) How I got my first developer job at age 40 after 10 months of hard work

(2) My journey to becoming a web developer from scratch without a CS degree (and what I learned from it)

(3) Learn to code in 2018, get hired, and have fun along the way

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” — Daniel H. Pink

Personally, I loved the learning tracker created by Syknapse. I’d like to create my own and share it sometime soon.

#3 Shift Your Focus

Maybe you’re annoyed because you keep running into errors while coding.

Maybe you went through a traumatic experience and dealing with the consequences on a daily basis.

Your reasons for demotivation could be rooted from inner or outer environmental factors. Maybe you can control them, maybe you can’t. What you can control is your attitude towards it. Are you going to let it get in the way, or are you going to shift your focus and keep moving?

I go back and forth between coding tutorials and learning fundamentals. On days when I feel stuck coding, I read articles, strengthening my knowledge on basics or how to code better. When I feel stupid while studying a language, I stop, find a tutorial on Youtube and start coding. Maybe it seems disorganized, but it works for me and my workflow. I’d rather shift my focus and keep going than sit through a depressing session of forced ineffectiveness.

Same philosophy applied for personal issues: It’s especially hard when you are affected mentally/emotionally/spiritually, but I’d much rather focus on other things than sit through the emotions. I’ve done the “let me cry my eyes out until I can no longer cry” route but honestly I still ended up crying afterwards anyways, so my new attitude is “I might as well code an application while I’m crying ;)”. It’s easier said than done for sure, but learning how to shift focus is one of the best lessons I gained from my most challenging moments.

Helpful Resources:

(1) The Complete Javascript Handbook: I found this incredible when feeling stuck on tutorials. It’s an extremely thorough explanation of the language.

(2) Traversy Media: This Youtube channel is filled with tutorials, one of my favorite places to go learn. Highly recommended.

(3) How I overcame Depression and Anxiety by Mimi Ikonn: Mimi is one of my favorite youtubers, and in this video she talks about how she dealt with her own issues in the past.

I hope this helps anyone feeling down or unmotivated. Remember, no matter what you’re feeling inside, just keep going, keep dreaming ❤