I’ve come to realize that getting started in technology or any related field is a lot more difficult than I imagined. It requires a great deal of time, concentration, logical thinking skills and motivation. If you come from a non-STEM background, you are going to be using your brain in ways you haven’t used it in a very long time and it will be tough if you are not willing to be patient and persevere. So I’ve created a list of some of the struggles I’ve faced and the techniques I’ve used to combat those struggles.
- YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE DOUBTS
There are going to be days when you feel like an impostor. You’re going to question why you’ve chosen this field and if you’ve made the right decision. You’ll start questioning, am I too old? Will I be able to retain all of this information? Will I be able to deliver? Will I find a good paying job? If you’ve asked yourself any of these questions than you’re giving yourself an excuse to fail. The reality is these are just doubts that will only delay you even more if you allow it to. Then you’ll really be too old to do anything. Make it a mission to suppress doubt and to keep a positive and sound mind each day. Whatever you do not achieve today, will get done tomorrow.
2. IT’S PAINFUL
Using your brain in this unfamiliar way has the potential to create neural pathways to reorganize and restructure itself for adaptation. This is called Neuroplasticity. Therefore, this is a tough and new challenge that is going to reshape the way you think and this can be really difficult at onset but the good news is that it gets easier with time. We have to be willing to do the hard stuff in order to get where we want to be. The pain is only temporary.
3. YOU’RE GOING TO BELIEVE THERE ISN’T ENOUGH TIME
It’s going to feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. Prioritize and do not Procrastinate! Study piece by piece and do not allow it to overwhelm you. Especially if you are teaching yourself how to code, there’s no rush. Assuring that you understand the material rather than struggling to develop a product next month is so important. I’ve found that the Pomodoro Technique helps me to manage my time better by focusing on a particular field of study for 25 minutes at a time and taking 5 minute breaks in between. BeFocused is a simple and effective Pomodoro app that I use.
4. YOU WILL COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS
You will see others living what we think is a “stress-free” life, traveling and enjoying their time with family. They may have already achieved much and are living with a satiable income. You may feel stagnant or as if it is taking you too long to accomplish your goals. Remember, God’s timing is different for everyone. You are exactly where you should be at this present moment. Learning how to program takes time but it is not impossible. If you can trust that you’ll have your desired outcome despite it being unseen now, you will feel a lot more motivated. Also, surround yourself with a supportive group of friends and mentors who will only encourage you to continue on your path.
5. YOU WILL GET DISTRACTED
Whatever you do, avoid social media as much as you can! I am a victim of phone addiction and social media always gets me. However, I’ve learned how to consume less in order to get more work done. Your eyes may glaze over while reading about functions but try not to divert your attention elsewhere unless you’ve been focusing for at least 25-30 minutes. Furthermore, keep a healthy, balanced social life. Having a social life is very important but do not let your social life get in the way of your study time. It’s OK to sacrifice Friday nights out and live like a poor person for awhile. Your focus should primarily be on apprehension and retention of the material, so try your best not to allow any unnecessary distractions to pull you away from it. It will all be worth it in the end. So get out there and start developing!