Everyone has to start somewhere. Whether you’ve been using computers your whole life, or you’re just figuring out this whole Internet thing - I truly believe anyone can learn to code.

Wherever you begin, there are tenets of learning that I’ve observed are beneficial for not only learning to code, but learning any new skill, at any age, throughout life.

  • Ask yourself why you want to learn to code.

    • Do you simply need to make a higher salary? Are you unsatisfied with your current career? Do you crave bigger challenges? Do you enjoy working with computers? Do you really like sitting on your butt for hours at a time?

    • The best advice I’ve ever received is to work hard at what I enjoy, because the money will follow. “The money” is relative. In the world we live in, being a software developer will earn you more than, say, interpretive water dancing. There are pros and cons to going into a career “to make more money” - sometimes it’s not all its cracked up to be. There are aspects you may despise. That’s why I highly suggest you write a list of all of the reasons you want to start - be honest with yourself! Include all of the things you will potentially not enjoy. Pros and cons lists are the best way to begin to make any big decision.

  • Observe the reality of where you are right now - what is your true skill level?

    • Be honest about this! Write a list of what you do know in your own diary or blog. Write what you know that you don’t know, and write down insecurities you have about both. Also, write down questions like “I’ve heard this word JavaScript used, I’d like to figure out what it means / what it does” This writing is for you, so be vulnerable.

  • Make a plan.

    • We’re not in college anymore (most of us) so we don’t have our days neatly organized for us into hourly blocks of learning. You must stick to a schedule of learning to be successful and progress. Even if you can only do 5 hours per week, stick to it! Make it as regular as exercise, or brushing your teeth.

  • Know when to quit.

    • Quitting has a bad reputation, but it’s really important to be OK with quitting something if you’re no longer benefiting from it. Don’t continue with something just because you’ve put a lot of time into it (Google “sunk cost fallacy”) and don’t force yourself to continue learning something you know you hate.

  • Learn to Google.

    • Learning to effectively Google errors and coding questions is what a good developer of any technology does. We’re researchers, not encyclopedias. Nobody is going to expect you to have all of the answers in your head, so you have to get really good at knowing where and how to get those answers FAST. I suggest thoroughly reading this - especially the Expert Search Tips at the end.

    • DISCLAIMER: I give a lot of information in my blog posts, but it’s impossible to cover everything. That’s why this particular tenet is so important. You have to be responsible for your own learning up to a point - if you’re reading instructions from one of my blog posts and they don’t make sense, by all means, reach out to me via email or Twitter! There will be a link at the bottom of every blog post. That being said, if you’re not understanding a concept or experiencing errors, do your best to Google and read as much as you can from other sources.

  • Stay vulnerable.

    • This is something many of us avoid due to fear of being judged, or fear of failure. To be vulnerable means to put yourself out there and be open to possibilities and opportunities. In learning new technology, you have to constantly stay vulnerable. It’s uncomfortable, but you learn to use it to your advantage. Always admit when you don’t know something - because someone out there knows the answer and would love to share their knowledge with you. It’s how we become better developers, and better human beings. And someday, you’ll be the one imparting knowledge to another vulnerable developer so it’s important to be nice and courteous as well. Everyone in this community was a beginner once, so we all understand how difficult it is emotionally and psychologically.

  • Get hobbies.

    • Once you become enamoured with coding you won’t want to leave your computer! Some say it is addictive because there is a constant loop of problem-having to problem solving. For the love of all that is good, go for a walk! Go running! Go to a coffee shop. Start a garden. Get a puppy. Interact with friends and family. Do something that will take you away from your computer!

I’m sure you didn’t expect the first blog post about learning to code to have zero code in it, but these tenets are extremely important. Just as important as the actual code.

Happy coding!


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