Diligence Vs. Enthusiasm

“I’m so excited to learn *insert programming language or framework here*!”

How often do we hear some variation of these words from ourselves and other students? Very. Excitement; enthusiasm… these are good things! When it comes to learning, though, one’s enthusiasm will only take them so far. Especially if the student’s intention is to practice mastery based learning.

Professional athletes spend many more hours physically conditioning by completing drills, running sprints, and practicing footwork than they do scoring that big game-winning goal. There are tremendous highs, but they are fleeting.

Similarly, I have experienced wonderfully rewarding highs in my programming journey. Building my first Sinatra app, acing a difficult assessment, and gaining a long-awaited moment of clarity are examples of highs that are guaranteed boosts to my enthusiasm. You know what I don’t feel enthusiastic about? Combing through SQL docs while experiencing my third straight week of illness this flu season, or staying up at night to figure out a frustrating bug when I’d rather be sleeping. If I let consistent study habits lapse every time my enthusiasm waned, I would still be back in Launch School’s course 101 trying to make sense of loops.

Ultimately, it is diligence and consistency in our studies that will bring us success and advance us forward. Let’s be real — there are some parts of learning to program that are less enjoyable than others. Some concepts even seem impossible to me at first. Yet I find that if I consistently apply myself with patience and focus, the ‘impossible’ becomes familiar and routine. Easy, even, in some instances.

Most of the people that we think of as an ‘overnight success’ spent countless hours pushing through difficult circumstances before they were recognized for their successes. There is a quote I like:

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

Excitement is wonderful. Enthusiasm is great. But make sure that along with these, you bring diligence. Good habits are what will carry us through when our enthusiasm fades. Set study goals and do your best to meet them. Eat well, sleep enough, and reduce distraction. With enough consistency, you will master concepts that sent your enthusiasm running the other direction.