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On leaving my job and learning to code

davidbell_space profile image David Bell Originally published at ・3 min read

Little over a year, I made the decision to leave my job as a Navy Diver. It was a role I had worked hard for. It took many hours of dedication, blood, sweat and tears before being accepted as a Mince Clearance Diver. A role I dreamed of as a boy. It was one the majority of people, either quit or fail.

I thought it would be me set. A good career with decent pay. Solid job security and that. I was wrong.

The problem with 'decent' careers

There was two big issues I had that prompted me to leave.

  1. Location dependence - A normal 'decent' career means you have to live and work in that area. No matter what, with no alternative.
  2. Pay is capped - My pay was capped. It was a good wage with promotion definite. No matter how much extra effort, or hours you worked. I would be payed the same amount, come the end of the month.
  3. Travel - I was desperate to travel the world. It was my number one goal in life at this point. Get out and see interesting things and eat interesting foods.

I imaged what it would be like to work for myself. On my own terms. Working whilst I travelled the world. Every hour put it, gave me more money. No pay cap. No location shackle.

Why code

Coders have fascinated me since I was a child. Like many I loved playing video games growing up. Addicted to them in fact. I would play games when I could and when I wasn't playing I was following games creators journeys on tv and Youtube. I loved the thought of making my own indie game. This thought was short. As I had a belief that to code your own video game, meant you had to be a Maths genius. Coding was for the Maths wiz, which I was not. I failed high school Maths twice. Achieving a high school grade C in Maths on my third attempt.

When I left my job I was going to do the obvious for me. Be a SCUBA diving instructor, or work in a bar. This would allow me to travel and live in exotic places. My girlfriend pointed out to me that one day the travels will come to an end and instead I should learn a new profitable skill. One that could last a lifetime.

After research I narrowed the options down to coding. Web development to be specific. It was a high demand skill and one I can build upon over time. A new challenge.

The challenges of learning to code

It has been a challenge. Self learning to code has many challenges.

  1. No structure - There is no curriculum if you are self studying. You must sift through the good and the bad yourself, to find what works. This can be a challenge. I wasted weeks watching tutorials on learning 'A' when instead I should of been building projects in 'B'.
  2. Coding is a different way of thinking - Wow, coding is something. The way you must break down problems, piece problems together in order to find a solution, is a different breed. Logical thinking in code must be trained like a muscle.

Takeaways and lessons

Over the process I have learned lots about myself. Heres a few key bits.

  1. All problems can be solved by breaking them up into small problems, then tackling them.
  2. Learn the 20% that gives 80% results. I spent far to long trying to get my head around tech such as Gatsbyjs, when at the time I should of been focused on Reactjs and vanilla JS.
  3. Cramming in hours of study doesn't work. Take breaks. Realise there is a limit to what you can learn in a day.
  4. Enjoy the process. Don't see it as a chore, its a great skill to learn. See it as a hobby.
  5. Celebrate the small wins. We neglect the small things. See each tiny thing as a victory. Centre a div? Great. Come up with a function? Ace. Don't overlook these and just focus on the negative.
  6. You learn by actively recalling something. Reading notes doesn't work. Watching endless tutorials doesn't work. The best way to remember things is to test yourself on them. Build things yourself and ask yourself questions. I found it helped to watch a tutorial, then build something myself using the information given in said tutorial. If you're stood, you can always refer back to it.

I'll be sharing more of my journey on Twitter, you can follow me there.

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