How does one measure progress? That might seem like an obvious question to answer. Take a second or two and try to answer that question. You didn’t come up with an answer that fast, did you? Or if you did, you might have answered something like “well, you measure progress by doing what you said you’ll do” and I agree. That’s why goal setting is so important. But that is a topic for the next post. In this one, I’m going to talk about what I’ve done so far that means progress for me.
Progress For Me
How can I talk about progress if I haven’t been clear about my goals? Fair. However, I do have one general and main goal: learn software development to build a profitable business. But that goal is too general. It needs to be broken down into tiny little chunks of smaller goals. Doing that is not necessarily easy work, specially if I’m going into uncharted territory by myself, opening my way without any guide. Using that same analogy, let’s say that I first needed to check out the field before I knew exactly what I had to do. And now that I’ve checked out the territory, I still don’t know EXACTLY what I have to do, but now I can make more sense when establishing goals. Without having set goals, I believe I’ve made progress up till now and that’s what I want to share in this post.
Progress Up Till Now
Here is a small list of my recent accomplishments:
- I finished the HTML/CSS 14-chapter tutorial: Interneting is Hard
- I started my personal portfolio and realized I had no idea what I was doing
- I’m coding at least 25 minutes per day (but it’s been way more than that)
- I’ve contacted a successful self-taught software developer (and I got myself some tips)
- I started the Web Developer Bootcamp (and have already put around 11 hours into it)
- I networked with senior computer engineering students
- The LOF has been receiving steady visits every day
- I have a proficient CSS IQ (according to Pluralsight)
I’ll do a quick run-through these bullet points and then wrap it up with the possible setbacks to progress together with the next steps I’ll be taking.
Interneting Is Hard
It’s true. I mean, it’s not hard as in impossible, but it has a very unique flavor of hard. I would say a patience challenging hard. Anyway, I consider the completion of this tutorial progress because…well, I completed it! And while I think that it’s an awesome place to start, I would be naive to think that it’s the only tutorial you’ll ever need to master HTML/CSS (would you judge me if I thought it was?). I liked it because it teaches about recent technology such as flexbox and responsive design, to name a few. However, trying to put into practice what I learned by starting a personal portfolio project made me realize that this tutorial was not enough and that I already forgot most of what I learned. It took me about 13 hours to complete; I did it in 3 weeks and a half, approximately.
Yup, you read right! I do consider progress having started my personal portfolio and realizing that I had no idea what I was doing. There are several things going on here. First, I am lying. I had some idea what I was doing, I just couldn’t get the code to do exactly what I wanted. Another thing: I’m not being naively optimistic about this (are you judging me again?). Yes, it was frustrating. Yes, I did drive in traffic for about an hour, on my way back home, with my ears all red and my patience tested, BUT that is still progress. I’m not talking about the red ears, I’m talking about the fact that I hit a wall. Now I won’t get all self-help guru with you here, I think the point is rather clear. The infatuation and easy phase is starting to wear out. I still have plenty of that phase to come, but it’s starting to close. The hard phase is approaching and this is when skills start to get polished. That’s why I consider it progress.
I’ve set a daily to code for at least 25 minutes every day. This week, I’ve put around 13 hours to coding, taking into consideration the hours I’ve put into the Web Developer Bootcamp course. Although 25 minutes doesn’t sound as much, you’d be surprised if you dedicated at least 25 minutes every single day to something you’d want to achieve. Steadiness and consistency is my maxim.
Contacting Successful Self-Taught Developer
This is more of a networking feel-good exploit that tastes like progress. I contacted an Indie Hackers colleague through email. He had commented on a thread called “Is it too late to learn coding?”, about how he actually landed a successful job after 4 months of studying while working. He completed the Web Design Treehouse track and started the Front End Web Developer track, but didn’t complete because he landed a job before he could finish.
So I sent him an email and told him that I was, in a way, following his steps. I asked if he could enlighten me with whatever he thought was most important to know during this process. We exchanged a pair of emails and he gave me some tips. The most important idea I could abstract form his tips was: work on side-projects. Besides sharing some job interview tips and stating that the documenting idea is a good long-term game (as he’s been documenting a journey himself), he mainly focused on suggesting that I work on projects. He also suggested a personal portfolio to exhibit my skills, adding my projects to GitHub, and to learn Git. I’m very thankful for this exchange. I received some valuable information and definitely motivation. Thanks, J!
Web Developer Bootcamp
As I said in one of the first posts, I had completed a WordPress course on Udemy. It was not bad! Despite the fact that it wasn’t great, I decided to start another Udemy course called the Web Developer Bootcamp. It is probably one of the most successful web development courses in Udemy. I won’t go into detail about what it contains because you can check it out if you’re interested. I’ll just say that it covers everything from the front-end to the back-end. I think that it is well made for one to have a grasp and a complete panoramic overview of web development in a technical sense. From what I’ve completed, I believe it to be a very good starting point.
Meeting With Computer Engineering Students
As with the email exchange with J, this is more of a community or networking exploit. For academic reasons, I gave an intellectual property conference to computer engineering students who are about to graduate. Although they were very happy with what they learned, that is the less pertinent part. The most pertinent part is that for the other half of the meeting, they all talked about their current projects and we had the opportunity to delve deeper in a technical sense. I felt at home! Besides the feel-good experience, I consider this as progress because, while not in the technically specific way, I knew what they were talking about; I had fun and enjoyed the technical chat. I confirmed, in real life, the current programming language and frameworks trends that I’ve seen online.
The LOF’s Steady Visits
I’m going to make this one short and straight to the point. The LOF has been receiving steady visits every day. At least one or two visits. Not much, I know, but steady and consistent. More often than not, people actually spend some time on the website. I don’t know who they are or where they came from, since I still haven’t put the time to study and analyze that. I’m just certain that they’re visiting from all over the world. If you’re reading this and we haven’t met before, please drop me an email at email@example.com and let me know what you think and how you got here (or just write to say hi!).
Proficient CSS IQ
Just for curiosity, I completed the Pluralsight CSS IQ test and got a proficient level. This is actually half-joking since I don’t really consider this that important, but I guess it means something.
Possible Setbacks for Progress
The other day I was talking with a friend about the LOF project. We bounced ideas, but more specifically I put on the table the most uncertain aspects and obstacles that I am experiencing and foreseeing. Some of them, in the form of questions, go like this: how much time should I invest in tutorials? How much time should I invest in trial and error? Because, isn’t trial and error too slow? I know that a great part of being a software developer is the fact that you’ll get stuck, and you’ll have to google how to do it, but when does it stop being ignorance and starts being the regular software developer life?
Going into details down each and one of these possible setbacks would make this a kilometric post and that’s not the idea (I will consider dedicating a blog post per setback and how I dealt with it). I do want to say, however, that I don’t believe these setbacks to be unbreakable or that if I don’t answer these questions then I’m doomed. Questions like these will always arise if you want to grow, in my opinion. Growth resides in the attempt to answer them. That’s the journey to growth, I believe.
What are my next progress steps?
I could’ve totally written that title without the “progress” word, but I want to keep the momentum going 😀 But seriously, what are my next steps?
- Creating a mock schedule that simulates the three full-time study months
- Creating a goals list
- Finishing Udemy’s course
- Starting the next Udemy course
The goal list and the mock schedule go hand in hand. After the goal list is made, I’ll be able to determine how I should timebox (check what timeboxing is if you don’t know what it is) my days in order to, progressively, achieve those goals. Finishing Udemy’s course and starting the next one are important because they will give me the whole overview of the fundamentals and the trendy frameworks and technologies: React, AJAX, Vue, etc. I don’t plan on mastering them all, but after I’m familiar with most of them, I’ll be able to start constructing projects and contributing to open source ones, which consequently are also my next progress steps and perhaps the most important ones. I think these next steps will be significantly important for the LOF project.