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Coding is an interesting journey full of peaks and valleys. The following quote summarizes it well:

“Every finish line is the beginning of a new race” —Lil Wayne

It has been hard, but like with all things, the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.

1. How to set clear goals and achieve them

The programming world is so broad and vast. You cannot learn everything. So, you need to carve out a niche to focus on by setting clear goals.

You can achieve this by doing an honest self-assessment and asking the following questions used in the popular 4WH technique by journalists.

  • What? What exactly do you want to do? Do you want to build websites, mobile apps, or go into machine learning?
  • When? You need to set a clear timeline. Otherwise, these are not goals but just dreams, and they ultimately fuel disappointment.
  • Where? Where do you see yourself specializing and what kind of roles? Backend, frontend or full-stack software engineering.
  • Who? Who can help you along with this journey? Who do you want to be like? Who are your mentors, peers, and mentees? It is always good along this journey to have someone walking ahead of you, one beside you, and one you are leading. And most importantly, all these people help keep you motivated and accountable.
  • How? How do you intend to achieve these goals? By planning your work and working your plan. It should be cut down into small measurable milestones.

I like to add in a bonus question. Why not? Why are you not yet able to achieve those set goals? What excuses are you telling yourself? What are you afraid of? Are you doubting yourself?

clear goals
Image via quotefancy


These answers should be jotted down and placed on a vision board that you can see every day. When the going gets tough (and it will), these are the things that pull you forward. Goals give you reasons to endure all sorts of challenges. Many times, the code will fail to work.

By planning for the future instead of worrying about it, you are pulled forward by your goals. This helps you to stop living in the past and deal with the present. There is a reason why the time you have now is called present. It is a gift.

2. How to learn

There are two kinds of learning—book smarts and street smarts. Book smarts we get through reading the official documentation, blogs, and coding along with tutorials. Street smarts are in the application of that knowledge through practice projects.

Now, following tutorials is good for learning concepts, but the knowledge doesn’t last if it is not applied. And if you just jump into street smarts of doing projects without having gotten the book smarts, it takes too long to make the project work. So, you need to find a balance between the two. In the same way, you use both your left and right leg when learning how to walk, book and street smarts complement each other.

3. How to deal with procrastination

“To put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done” —Webster’s dictionary.

First, you need to understand why you procrastinate. We live in a world where we can shop online or get instant food with just a click of a button, and we can meet the love of our life by swiping right. Due to this, we tend to seek instant gratification instead of taking the long-term perspective while doing things.

Let us be honest, “Netflix and chill” sounds like and is much more fun than “freeCodeCamp and chill.” However, in continually postponing watching the tutorials, we end up taking a much longer time learning that causes even more frustration.

In order to overcome procrastination, I find the following quotes packed with inspirational advice.

Are you doubting yourself
Image via goalcast

4. It is okay to fail

As a Software Engineer, you fail every day. In Test-Driven Development, you write tests that first fail before they pass. You are always learning new technologies, and in the beginning, there is always a lot of anxiety about failure. But it is okay to fail.

It is okay to fail

“Would you like me to give you the formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You’re thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure—or you can learn from it.

So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you’ll find success. On the other side of failure” —Thomas Watson.

5. How to take breaks and have a work-life balance

I cannot stress this enough. If you do not find this balance, you will end up burnt out. Sometimes you do more by doing less. Step away from the computer for a walk to get some water. You should also stretch often during such breaks.

It is good when working to follow the Pomodoro technique. This article from Microverse’s CEO Ariel Camus explains how to master your work from home routine in deeper detail. You should set a 25-minute timer for intense focus with no distractions during that window. Then have a 5-minute break.

This keeps you focused and engaged. I personally do this using a simple timer app on my watch. After four such sessions, you can have a big half-hour break to get some sun.

Please, take the weekends off. Exercise and have enough rest. Not getting enough sleep will instead make it even more difficult to study.

Take these tips on your coding journey

There you have it. The five useful tips I wish I could have given myself on clear goal setting, learning how to learn, procrastination, failure, and work-life balance. What tip made the biggest impression on you? What advice would you feel was left out? Please reach out and share in the comment section.

“As iron sharpens iron, so does one person sharpen another” —Proverbs 27:17.

What’s Next?

If you are just starting out and would like to join an online school that helps give you structure, a supportive community, and curates a structured curriculum to guide you along the way, join me at Microverse.

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