A Motivational Reminder
Stay up to date, technology will not wait for you.
When is the last time you:
- attended a conference?
- attended a course?
- read through documentation to stay up to date with new features?
- made your own project?
- solved an integral formula?
It’s time for self-reflection! As developers, we always need to stay sharp, and up to date. You never know when your technologies could suddenly become outdated.
Technology doesn’t keep up with us, we have to keep up with it. ~ Kevin Van Ryckegem
Wake up, and start your learning path now! As developers or architects, we should always be working towards one of our goals.
What should I do?
Spend your time in a focused manner. Gain knowledge, not information. Knowledge is more focused. Darius Foroux’s article explains this well. Spend your time focusing on learning things you want to use in your day-to-day life. Your knowledge will help you become what you want to be.
Don’t mindlessly read programming articles, instead, search for a particular topic you want to know more about, focus and develop yourself. Read articles from this particular topic, or even better, do some hands-on growth or architectural work!
Create a growth plan
In order to measure your progress and goals throughout the years, having a growth plan is crucial. Time flies, and before you know it, you didn’t have a chance to brush up on that particular skill this year.
Make a clear, measurable plan of which items you want to focus on. Do your best to spend some time every day to grow towards what you want to become. It is also a good exercise to think: “Who is your role model? How can you become more like them?” while writing a growth plan.
Review your growth plan
A growth plan is not useful unless reviewed from time to time. Remind yourself of your goals, and make sure you are actually growing in the desired direction, with the desired speed.
Feeling comfortable at work? That should not happen. You should always challenge yourself in one way or another. In terms of skills and self-growth, however, this does not always have to be about technical items.
You could be challenging yourself to speak more and present more, or challenge yourself to be more involved with methodologies. There are infinite possibilities.
Just make sure, that by the end of the day, you keep pushing yourself and that you keep on learning. Of course it is comfortable to not take any challenges, but long-term it will be very detrimental to your career and self-growth.
Being passionate helps you ‘automatically’ stay up-to-date. By being passionate, you will have intrinsic motivation to read up on the latest news, and try out the new features of some technologies. Intrinsic motivation is the motivation that comes from oneself, without requests, pressure or motivation coming from the external environment to brush up your skills. It is a proactive kind of motivation that comes from within.
Intrinsic motivation is what pushes you to improve items that people didn’t even ever think about improving. It pushes you to learn items that people don’t take the time to learn. It’s the best kind of motivation because it is self-fuelled. It truly comes from oneself, and only you will know what you want to do and what you want to become.
For example, imagine you receive a new role or title, you might want to take up some online courses or read up on some articles to brush up your skills on your new role. This is intrinsic motivation, nobody asked or motivated you to study for this role, however, you took the initiative to do so. Being proactive is a very important skill, not only for your self-development but for your career as well.
Prepare learning resources
Good learning requires good learning resources. It doesn’t always have to be expensive. Free resources can sometimes be better than paid resources.
If you are making a long-term investment, let’s say a 3 months long course for reaching a certification, make sure to research before choosing a course, there might already be a very famous course for your specific goal.
In any case, do not skimp on money in terms of your learning. The money you spend on learning resources will be worth it, considering the amount of time you are preparing to learn using that specific resource.
How to stay up-to-date?
There are multiple ways to stay up-to-date. First of all, you need to have a specific goal in mind. Try to measure your progress along the way to keep your motivation up!
Here are some examples of what one could do to stay up-to-date:
- Learn for specific certifications
- Follow online tutorials/courses for items you do not know well enough
- Be curious. Heard about a new version of your favourite framework or technology? React 18? Google it and take the time to find out what it’s all about, and take it for a test drive!
- Put yourself out there. The more experience you have, the better you’ll be.
Best of all, keep building! The more you build, the better you’ll get. This is the best advice I can give. Keep building, and building, and re-building. You’ll discover you aren’t happy anymore with the previous implementation and will want to make a rewrite. This is a great sign of progress, as you can recognise your mistakes. You will likely remember these mistakes for your next iteration, or project. The more you do this, the more all of this will become second nature.
Development is not an exact science, and any working application that fulfills its goal as expected, is a good application. However, when writing small projects for self-learning, don’t be afraid to be critical of your own creations. The more you are, the more you’ll rewrite, the better you’ll become.
Are you already up-to-date with your most favourite technologies? That’s fine! Then it’s time to broaden your skillset or go into more detail. The more you learn, the more you’ll find out there is infinite knowledge you yet have to learn.
Please realise that it is impossible to learn everything. Wisely choose which areas you would like to broaden or focus on. While it’s important to keep on growing and staying up-to-date, it is equally important to have a good work-life balance and staying away from a potential burn-out. Taking some self-time to relax and unwind is totally okay!
Focus and block time
This is the hardest step of all, in our busy lives. Block the time for your self-growth and learning sessions. Make it a habit to learn during a specific timeframe, and block this time in your agenda. Being consistent, and actually blocking the time for self-growth is your first step to success.
I want you to, immediately after reading this article, follow the next actions.
- Think about what you want to know more about
- Think about who you want to become, who is your role model
- Think about the steps to make this happen
- Write this down, and review it every 1–2 months
- Think about intrinsic motivation, what are you intrinsically motivated for?
- Start working towards your growth plan, immediately!
- Make a learning schedule which you will 1000% commit to. There are no excuses.
- Don’t forget to leave some time to unwind. Be realistic with your self-growth planning, and don’t overplan. Being consistent in the long run is more important than short bursts of learning.
That was a lot! Let’s summarise the most important points:
- Don’t let yourself stagnate or be comfortable, this could lead to catastrophic results in the long-term
- Plan in a self-growth plan, and be actively involved with it
- Passion and intrinsic motivation is a great fuel for self-growth
- Constantly learn new things
Now, get out there, plan your self-growth and learn awesome things!