Jul 1, 2022

One reason you're stuck in the beginner phase (And how to get unstuck)

For the past couple of months, I've been trying to sharpen my programming skills.

I followed a tutorial on Vue + Firebase for a few weeks. But then I switched over to another one for React + Firebase. Then a few weeks later I started looking into Java + Spring, and now I'm learning C# + ASP.NET.

It's been 6 months since I started to code in my free time and I have nothing to show for it. Does this sound like you?

Realizing I was stuck in an infinite loop

For some people, learning to code looks like this:

Diagram from picking a language to building a project

They choose the language or tool they want to learn, they practice the language, and they learn enough to build a project.

For others, including myself, it can look like this:

Diagram of picking a language cycle

We choose the language or tool we want to learn, we practice the language, we lose motivation to learn, and we end up picking a different language to learn. We keep chasing new, shiny langugages and tools.

The cycle goes on and on like an infinite loop.

Breaking out of the loop

Learning to code takes time. This means that a lot can happen to our state of mind and our motivation while learning to code.

We start off excited to learn something new. For a few weeks, we are motivated and learning is fun and exciting. But as we get deeper into the language or tool, it starts to get harder and the learning slows down. We start to slack off. We don't code for a day, then two, then three. Eventually, we lose interest or find another tool and go after that instead.

It looks like a simple problem: we lose motivation. But different people lose motivation for different reasons. For me, it's the thought of a job prospects. I keep overthinking and keep jumping from one thing to the next because I think the new, shiny thing will be better for finding a job.

If you're also stuck in this loop, think about what causes you to lose motivation. Is learning to code hard for you? Do you hate learning by yourself? Are you overwhelmed by all the options?

Once you know what triggers your loss of motivation, take actions that will prevent you from losing that motivation.

Creating a better loop

Once you understand why you’re in an infinite loop, write a better one.

Write a loop that ends when you reach your goal: building a side project, getting a job offer, or whatever your end goal is.

What should you include in this new “loop”? You should build it with habits that counteract whatever causes you lose motivation.

Is learning code hard for you? Maybe take some time to learn how to learn. This will give you skills and habits to learn to code more effectively. Do you hate learning by yourself? Put yourself out there, join a community and share what you’re learning with others.

Take some time to figure out what causes you to lose motivation, and find one or more ways to prevent the motivation from waning.

As for me, I will be sticking with C# + ASP.NET. When I get bored or lose motivation, I'll come back to this blog post to remind myself to stop chasing other "shiny" langugages and tools.

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My name is Jesus. I am a software engineer who writes about web development & technical writing.