19th May 2014
This week, I managed to wipe out my previous installation of Ghost along with all of my content. This post, I had saved as a draft elsewhere which is just as well as it was easily the most popular post on my site.
I would describe what I have had in the last 12 months as less of an 'aha moment' and more of a series of interconnected realisations culminating in what I can only describe as an explosion of information in my brain.
##How I fast-tracked my career and changed my life for the better in 365 days
Choose your poison, and then stick to it
Real learning takes time and effort
This is the hardest lesson to swallow. How often do we repeat the phrase "I would love to do X, if only I had the time"? I had to make the time. In London I was working a regular 40 hour week (sometimes more) on client work. So I would come home from work, make dinner, then spend another few hours on the computer doing my study. I would build things on my weekends. Most of the time I spent coding I would otherwise have spent watching TV or playing Candy Crush. When I replaced these mindless activites with productive ones I felt like I was getting so much more out of my week.
Replace "it can't be done" with "maybe I can do it".
My friends who work in Digital Producer roles have often said that the most frustrating thing a developer can do is constantly turn down client requests because they are "too difficult" or "can't be done". I had been guilty of this behaviour myself. I had to change my attitude. When a manager or producer came and asked me to do something I had no idea how to do instead of saying "no" I would say "I will try" and then commence Googling like a mad woman on how to attack the problem. On almost all of these occasions I would figure it out, the manager/client would be stoked with the result, and I had just learned something new. Everybody won.
Actively seek to learn from others...
Humility is by far one of the most important ingredients of true learning.
After one of my contracts expired, my former employer actually sent me a list written by the lead developer with a no-holds-barred list of criticisms about the code I had written. My initial thought was, "well who the fck nominated you the Lord Commander of code?!" and then "I only did x y z because of a b c excuses". Then, I remembered I should be treating this as an opportunity, I really thought about everything he had to say, and I know my future work will improve a result. *Humility is by far one of the most important ingredients of true learning.
... but challenge everything you're told.
As we grow as developers we form opinions on how best to code based on what we read online, or what our colleagues tell us. I worked with guys who used a lot of libraries so as not to 're-invent' the wheel and other guys who insisted on writing everything from scratch. There were guys obsessed with performance and guys who placed application architecture at the top of their priorities. I listened to their justifications about the way they developed, and then would go away and do my own research. Rather than take on others' suggestions at face value I would form my own opinions, and I'm a better developers as a result.
Stay connected, and be a nice person!
I can quite confidently say the I would not be the developer I am now if it weren't for Twitter. Unlike my other social networks that I use purely to keep up with friends, Twitter is an integral part of me staying 'on the pulse' in my field. Through Twitter I have can have open discourse with so many people I admire in this industry and that sort of resource is invaluable.
Whether connecting with people online or in real life. It has been super beneficial for me to make an extra to be a nice and friendly person. Call it karma or whatever, but whenever I have made that bit of extra effort to reach out and compliment other people on their good work, or respond to people who have engaged with me, I feel like I have received even more positivity in return. Every positive connection provides an opportunity, whether we immediately see it or not.