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Combatting apathy when learning new coding language

charliedevelops profile image charliedeveloper ・3 min read

Feeling like you can’t be bothered or you don’t care about something is the greatest threat to your own personal progression. Here are a few ways to break through the wall of apathy and get enthusiastic about learning again.

If you’ve experienced trying to learn any sort of coding language, you’ll know there’s usually a honeymoon period while you complete your ‘hello world’ project. You’re flying high, but keeping the motivation and the will to learn after this can be tough.

There are a whole host of reasons why you might lose interest and find yourself taking a ‘meh’ attitude towards finishing what you started: maybe you’re too busy, or perhaps you find that the difficulty really ramps up quickly after step 1, or maybe another shiny new coding language/framework has been released (this happens a lot with JavaScript)…

There are a host of reasons that apathy might begin to creep in. But this is the critical moment, and if you can learn to catch yourself at this point and train yourself to continue, you will vastly increase your chances of reaping the long term rewards.

Your will to complete a task will only ever be as strong as your motivation to begin.

When you hit a dip in learning try to make a conscious effort to remember why you started learning this new language in the first place. Battle apathy by picturing the rewards for adding that coding language to your skillset. It could be anything — more money, a new job, a more senior role or even an ability to build that side project you have always wanted to create.

Right now, when finding learning tough I have to remind myself why I am doing it. My current motivation is to be able to explain difficult technical concepts in more simplistic terms when teaching/mentoring others. (Also one of my side web projects is in desperate need of an update!)

Your ability to learn is only as good as the resources you have at your disposal.

Understanding your most productive learning style is key to making progress. Nothing is more disheartening when learning a new coding language than finding you’re not engaging with the material.

Personally, trying to learn from walls of text in textbooks has me shutting my laptop. I favour having someone standing in front of me spelling it out, but sadly this isn’t always an option. Instead, I opt for the next best thing — a video of someone standing in front of me spelling it out!

No other industry has such a large bank of free high quality learning resources — you can find free ‘how to’ videos on nearly every coding language and often from multiple sources.

Don’t like the whiney voice of a presenter on YouTube? No problem! Try someone else’s video.

When I teach students how to code, they all have their own preferred method of learning — some liked using videos, others listening to discussions and podcasts, watching live demos, doing exercises or structured project work. We all found our best results for learning when we discovered our favourite learning style.

Learning a coding language isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Let’s be honest: nothing in life can be fun and super engaging 24/7. You can test this against everything.

“But what about cake?” I hear you ask. Well, someone’s got to make it, plus it’s bad for you if you eat it all the time. “How about puppies?” Puppies are pretty close to being awesome 24/7, but you do still have to pick up their poo in the park. I could go on but I think you get the idea.
Far from this being a negative outlook, what’s really important to see here is that all the best things in life take a little work and sacrifice on your part, and that ultimately victory is made all the more sweet by the toughness endured.

In the same way that marathon runners wouldn’t feel the level of satisfaction they do from finishing a race without powering through ‘the wall’, you must be prepared to dig deep and plough through tough learning patches.

Gaining this mental fortitude is not easy, however it gets easier with practice, so if you are feeling apathetic about whether to continue learning, stick at it and you may surprise yourself!

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