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#100DaysOfCode - The Finish Line

Thinking about the number 100 always takes me back to grade school days when the teacher would ask each student to bring in 100 of something. I’m thinking pennies was my object of choice. I know, real original! The goal of the exercise was both a product of fun in the classroom but also an attempt to quantify what exactly “100” actually means. Many years later, that number is made visible not through coins, but tweets chronicling the number of days straight that I coded for at least one hour. Like many others before me, I have conquered the challenge of #100DaysOfCode. And along the way, I think I learned a thing or three.

“Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost”

Ah yes, my favorite author of all time, JRR Tolkien, has some wisdom to share that sums up the winding path that my tweets summarize. Looking through the plethora of updates, it may appear that I’m a restless soul when it comes to focusing on one task at a time. One day may have involved JavaScript, and then the next C and the third SQL. The truth was, all three of these tasks were actually part of a larger, long-term goal. I decided that this Spring/Summer, I would begin an active job hunt to move into tech. However, several different pieces needed to fall into place for the search to be successful.

The first was getting my portfolio site up and running with projects containing legitimate README files and use of some more advanced JavaScript/React functionality. The second step involved gaining a better grasp of Computer Science concepts beyond just the web. And finally, in order to gain some more structure to my learning as well as familiarity with languages like Java, I enrolled in a software development program offered by the community college. Some days I found bugs in my deployed sites that needed attention while other evenings were spent doing homework assignments. Nevertheless, my wandering path had direction and intention throughout.

Take Stock of Priorities

Like other working parents, my time is limited. Most days, I have an hour or two in the evening to pursue my personal interests. Because of this, I need to choose wisely how I spend these precious hours. During this challenge, the decision was made for me - the time each day would primarily involve coding. I had to accept that other passions of mine would need to become severely limited or placed on the backburner until the 100 days ended. It was a matter of priorities with learning and long-term goals taking precedence. For 100 days, I chose to put aside many smaller things to focus intently on one big thing. This temporary arrangement of priorities was well worth it.

Sleep Is Important

I admit, I am a student of the “Just One More Bug Fix” School when it comes to closing the laptop for the night. I become so engrossed in the code and the prospect of the next small win that time seems to fly by and, before I know it, it’s suddenly much later than I thought. One of the reasons this would occasionally occur was because other evening activities led me to not start coding until shortly before bedtime and a solid hour was still on the docket to do. The next morning, I would usually pay the price for the decision by not being at my best for the day. I would also be jealous of those people who seemed to thrive on only a few hours of sleep. Either way, I know I need a solid 8-9 hours to really feel like myself. That may even mean learning accept that the new features and bugs aren’t going anywhere and another day is another opportunity to work on them. Definitely easier said than done!

As you may suspect, there was no “Day 101.” I am still learning constantly (I’m looking at you, Java) and loving it, but also accepting that my current life situation doesn’t always allow me an hour a day to sit in front of a screen to code. Some days all I can fit in may just be listening to a podcast during my commute, but that’s okay. I also have other hobbies that bring me joy like running and gaming. I am a person made up of many interests, which I think is a healthy way to live. So, until programming becomes my full-time career, I will make do with what is currently before me as I strive to do my best.

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