Staying motivated when learning to code is a struggle.
Do you ever feel like even though you’re putting in the effort, you’re not moving forward? How do you make progress on goals?
Start aiming for progress, not perfection.
How is it that you can spend hours on something and then when you take a step back to look at it, it seems nothing has changed? When you’re learning a new skill like programming, this can be a considerable challenge.
How do you stay motivated when learning to code python?
As a self-taught programmer, I know the struggle to stay motivated.
As much as I really want to learn to code, I’m not going to pretend it’s easy.
One of the best ways I have found to stay motivated is to set goals.
But then the challenge becomes, how do you make progress on these goals without motivation?
Remember slow progress is still progress
When trying to define how to make progress on goals, especially long-term goals, the key is to celebrate the little things.
It may feel as though you’re not progressing or that you’re never going to finish but that’s not true.
You are making progress.
It can be hard to shift your mindset to progress not perfection but it is key for helping you make progress on goals.
Focusing on the little things and seeing how you are moving forward is crucial to feeling better about the effort you are putting in.
Progress, not perfection – look back at what you’ve achieved
Ok, so when you’re learning something new, it can be really tough.
In my experience, this is most prevalent when you’ve reached the stage where you have gotten beyond a basic understanding.
All of a sudden it takes more than just being able to change the background color of a website using CSS to feel like you’re actually getting significantly better.
Oh how I miss those days, am I right?
When you reach this point, I really encourage you to take a step back and list out all the things you’ve learned to do in the last month. Even something that seems small is still a new skill you didn’t have before.
Honestly give it a go – I think you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve actually achieved if you do.
You know me, I’m not exactly the type who’s going to sugar coat the process of learning to program. In fact, most of the posts on this blog are me ranting about how frick’n frustrating it all is!
This week, however, I decided to make a list of all the new concepts and things I’d learned about in the last month.
This was the first step in the shift to progress, not perfection.
How do you find motivation when learning to program?
This can be a tricky one. I’ve talked a fair amount about specific techniques I’ve used to help me keep motivated in previous posts.
I encourage you to take time to visualize why you’re going through the pain.
Grab a coffee. Maybe even a piece of cake if you’re feeling naughty. Sit down and think about what you want to achieve.
When you are thinking about motivation your learning to program keep it at the front of your mind.
Once you are able to see your end game, it’s time to break it down.
Step 1: Set achievable milestones
So how do you get motivated to keep going and achieve long-term goals like learning Python?
To answer this, I’m going to tell you about last Christmas.
Last year for Christmas Cameron bought me a journal for things I want to achieve. In the book, it asks you to fill out on one page the goal you are wanting to meet, how you will realize it, how these actions fit into your routine and when.
There is a point to this story I promise.
On the next page, it has space for you to put a picture of yourself when you have achieved it. There’s also space to write about how you felt when you reached it.
So far I’ve written about 5 things in the book. Of those 5 I have Achieved 4.
This is way more than I expected!
I have big goals in there, but I also have in there places I want to travel – like Cuba!
Had I done everything perfectly – no but I had made progress not perfection.
And I had been to Cuba!
The moral of this story is by taking a big goal, or any goal, visualizing it and breaking it down it makes it more real.
If it’s real, it can be done. Being able to use this book to see how I am making progress is how I find motivation when learning to program.
Did you know Jim Carey wrote himself a check for $100M before he got his first acting job?
If you’re learning to program, what website are you going to build? How does your app end up going viral? Which problem will your machine learning algorithm solve?
Step 2: Create Accountability
Create Accountability to keep you motivated
I don’t know about you but if I tell someone I am going to do something, I feel much more accountable to actually get it done.
I encourage you to tell as many people as possible about your goal of learning to code python. Being accountable to so many people will keep you motivated when things get tough.
Another way that you can create accountability is by committing to regularly sharing your code on GitHub or creating a blog.
Let me take a step back though, what is GitHub?
Github is also a great place to see other people’s projects and get help and fixing bugs in your code.
Here are three of the best I have found showing python programming examples:
Step 3: Expand your horizons – listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos
One way to stay motivated when learning to code Python is to listen to podcasts about programming.
Personally, I am learning Python to get into machine learning. I also love podcasts. So it made sense to me that I should look for some machine learning podcasts.
At first, I was worried that these might not exist. Thankfully I was wrong. I have actually managed to find multiple machine learning podcasts, and a helpful article evaluating each that I’ll share with you here.
Well, I find that having something I can just listen to absorb, about a topic I am interested in, really helps me keep motivated.
In my case, it’s machine learning podcasts. Listening to them reminds me why I am going through the pain of learning to program in python and helps me push through.
Still, need some help staying motivated while learning to program Python?
I know what you’re thinking, life is pretty busy.
In between work, keeping (relatively) fit, seeing my friends, maintaining my relationship, watering my houseplants, living up to your family’s expectations on an amount of contact and watching all your favourite shows on Netflix before the dreaded spoilers…
You don’t have that much spare time for following your dreams, especially learning Python.
I’ve been there don’t worry. I know it is so hard to find the energy to stay motivated to learn to program.
When you’re in this demotivated stage and it’s hard to see the light of re-energization coming close.
Just in case you’re feeling the pain right now I’ve listed three recent TED talks below that have helped me through the dark hours and inspired me to keep going:
And this one that motivated me when I was learning Spanish:
Let’s get going again!
Now you should be feeling all pumped up, back to work! I
Don’t beat yourself up if you are struggling to stay motivated. It’s perfectly normal.
Just remember, when you are struggling to keep going:
- Create manageable goals and milestones
- Build accountability with friends and family
- Expand your horizons and listen to the stories of those who have gone before to keep going
I know you can do this! This time next year you won’t believe how far you have come in learning Python