By now you've probably heard of the Code Newbies 2018 Challenge - many of you likely registered for one of those four goals already: Start Coding, Code More, Blog More, Get a Job.
The idea is for you to pick one focus goal, then complete a number of missions (one per week, for n weeks - where n is dependent on your goal) to complete the challenge. The current cohort has already begun their missions - but you can still sign up to get on the waiting list for round 2.
I've been in software development and research for 20+ years, but like everyone else, I always find myself facing two main challenges:
Impostor Syndrome. As a mom, I preach self-confidence to my son. I tell him he should judge himself only by his own progress from the day before, and not by comparison with others. But as a technologist, I invariably find myself looking at people that I respect/admire and asking myself "am I really good enough to do what they do?". It can be debilitating, especially when you realize later that the persona you "deferred to" (because of self-doubt) actually knew much less than you did but just put themselves out there more.
Time Management. Technology is amazing but our current work schedules can be exhausting and sometimes counter-productive. We are a nation of workaholics and always-on communication addicts. And increasingly, visibility is prioritized over skill and those who speak/blog/share frequently often have an edge over those who also put in the time but just aren't "seen". But, being visible takes a toll in the number of context-switches (code-tweet-slack-speak) and attention-disruptions (alerts, emails, texts..) you deal with. And suddenly, "time" becomes a rare commodity.
The outcome of both these is that you can, and will, burn out.
I did just that last year. It took me months to dig myself out. I talked about my journey on self-care at ElaConf and was amazed at how many people connected with the issues and the process.
My big insight was that career challenges (like those above) affect your mental health by dragging down your self-esteem.
Impostor syndrome does so directly because you question your self-worth without realistic context. Time management does so indirectly because you now set unachievable deadlines, fail to meet them or do so satisfactorily, apologize and then blame yourself.
As self-esteem drops, stress levels rise, which results in poor decision-making, leading to more loss in self-esteem. And a vicious cycle is born that speeds the burnout. And I realized that the only way to combat this effectively is with proactive control and coping strategies.
One key strategy was to create routines that reflect healthy behaviors.
When you do something regularly, you build "muscle memory" which increases your confidence in the task, but also removes the stress related with time-management around it. Not only do you feel a sense of achievement, but you also begin to get better about calibrating the complexity/scheduling of the task to better leverage your time and expertise.
In the past I've adopted #30Days as a way to create and set routines. I see #CNC2018 as something similar.
I actually started out by selecting "Blog More" because one of my 2018 aspirations was to share more about the many things I was doing, that I had not had time to do before. But I changed my mind and switched to "Code More".
Why is that?
I code on a regular basis already, primarily for consulting and advisory projects I work on. But I also do a lot of public speaking and training, and am really interested in pursuing a career in developer advocacy. I also have a lot of technologies and languages that I want to adopt, learn and explore. But I never seem to have time for that.
And then I realized that "Code More" could actually help me on a "Blog More" goal if I used blogging as an accountability measure for the coding challenge.
The #CNC2018 challenge actually requires people to post to Facebook but I refuse to go there (for so many reasons). But I really love dev.to these days and want to contribute more content here. So here goes - me posting to dev.to to stay accountable around my Code More goals :-)
Co-incidentally, at about the same time that this challenge began, I found I had been accepted into the #GrowWithGoogle "Mobile Web Specialist" Scholarship program run by Udacity.
Nitya Narasimhan@nityaWoot!! Here's one 2018 Resolution off to a good start.
Excited to be one of the #GoogleUdacityScholars #GrowWithGoogle scholarship recipients for the #MobileWebSpecialist track. We're kicking things off with #OfflineFirst deep dives so I am psyched!
#PWACamp #goals23:28 PM - 10 Jan 2018
While I have been working on full-stack development for a few years, I always wanted to get a rigorous overview of modern web best practices (specifically focused on progressive web apps and offline-first thinking), and this course was perfect! Not only does it have structured content, but it also has coding projects.
And, one of my other ambitions was to get better with using Glitch to build & share quick ideas or prototypes around some of these concepts.
So, over the next few weeks, expect to see some posts with this combination of tags (#cnc2018 #growwithgoogle) that will focus on sharing insights from the course, while also keeping me accountable to my "Code More" goals.
PS. If you are doing the #CNC2018 Code More Challenge, say hello! I want to stay in touch, do some collaborative cheerleading and compare notes on progress