Coding can be frustrating and we all struggle to find a boost of motivation when we feel overwhelmed by a challenge. When it comes to finding that boost, full disclosure, there is no one single thing that works for everyone. Coding can be learned by everyone, but what keeps you progressing while you learn and grow your skills can vary, depending on the type of person you are.
After 6 years of teaching thousands of students across the world to learn to code, there are a few recurring motivators that we at Treehouse – and our students – rely on. They may not all be applicable to you, but we recommend trying them out, and guarantee you’ll find at least one is effective for you.
Motivator 1: Community collaboration
When you’re learning to code, it’s important not to learn in a silo. Although you are steering this ship for yourself, you don’t have to do it alone. Share your learning experience with others who are on the same path. Whether it’s through online communities and forums, in-person meetups, following relevant industry experts, or simply speaking to friends and coworkers, having these connections can make a huge impact.
When you’re stuck, ask someone that’s more experienced than you for help (every question is worth asking). Reach out to the tech community for support and guidance and eventually, you’ll be sharing your knowledge with others and answering their questions. As studies have shown, “by drawing on a larger collective memory and the multiple ways in which knowledge can be structured among individuals working together, groups can attain more success than individuals working alone.” (Bruer, 1993, Palincsar, 1998). We see collaborative learning like this in the Treehouse Community every day, and can guarantee that the satisfaction you feel when someone helps you overcome a challenge – or you do the same for them – will give you an enormous boost of motivation.
Motivator 2: Keep the blood flowing
As an aspiring developer, you’ll spend an unprecedented number of hours with your computer (and that’s okay), but don’t take for granted the need to keep your body moving. Becoming a sedentary person should be avoided.. It’s been said that 10,000 steps per day should be our goal to maintain a healthy body, but if that’s not attainable, that’s okay. You can still keep yourself healthy by taking breaks and stretching those legs whenever you can. And what better time to take those breaks than when you’re feeling defeated by your code or a challenge (two birds, one stone). Getting some fresh air will help clear your head. Keeping the blood flowing will refresh your mind and give you a suitable dose of fresh motivation and perspective.
Motivator 3: Satisfy the senses
When you’re frustrated by a bug in your code or confronted by a problem you can’t seem to solve, take the opportunity to reset your senses. As Kenneth Love explains in his post, You’re Not an Imposter, “before you start telling yourself that you’re stupid, check these six conditions to make sure you’re in a good problem-solving mindset using the CHALTS Checklist”. Two of (the many) benefits of being a developer is flexibility and mobility, so make sure you embrace them. Pack up your laptop and switch up your location, whether that means relocating to a new spot in your home, office, coffee shop or co-working space. Wherever you go, I guarantee a change of scenery will satisfy your senses and give you a new dose of motivation.
Motivator 4: Share and celebrate
Being able to code is a valuable skill and you should be proud of what you accomplish with it. When you’re learning to code, acknowledge the fantastic progress you make learning a new language. Be proud of what you’re achieving on your learning journey, and share your accomplishments with others. You’ve put the hard work and dedication into it and there’s no reason to not share that with your friends and fellow members of the tech community.
As a professional developer, celebrate and embrace the accomplishment of completing a project, solving a challenging problem, adding a new language to your skill set, receiving positive feedback from users, or even just the overall progress you’re making in your career. Those are big milestones that should be acknowledged and shared, and when you’re feeling frustrated, remind yourself of what you’ve already accomplished to motivate yourself to continue excelling forward.
Whether you’re a coding newbie or an expert, when you find yourself confronted with challenges, we hope you find these motivators helpful. Are there other motivators that work for you? Share them with us below.