A plan! Have a Plan! Have a strategy! Have a process and so on. these words or something close to this has been hammered into my head since I could read and understand English.
I have encountered them in schools, books, movies, songs, interviews -- remember "What your five years plan". I am a huge fan of books, soon ill write about my affixation with them perhaps in another post. Back to the point, a fan of books.
I have read multiple quotes about plans and processes and strategies and personally, I think this is one of the most ignored subjects by readers and learners even though it's one of the most publicized besides love and death. I don't understand the human's fascination with death yet terrified by it.
Forgive me. I tend to do that, developed multiple trains of thought but not to worry.. where were we...Ahh yes, quotes and books about plans. There are gazillions of recommendations about plans and even quotes personally I've read a few and I'd recommend the well-known works of *Sun Tzu -"the art of war". * I know I know. it's ancient but it's gold, trust me. It's a work of a military strategist but very applicable to daily life challenges.
There are good publications out there on why plans are good and why they are a waste of time and that people should just be random and wing it. Personally, I just feel offended when someone suggests that one should just handle stuff as they come whatever the reason, living randomly and on the edge and so on.
There are many quotes about plans and their association with goal accomplishment. Whenever I'm tired of reading lengthy materials I like to read quotes and specifically about impactful subjects like planning and goals, you should try it out you'll find very encouraging ones like ;
- “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” ― Antoine de Saint
- By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin,
- “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” ― Alan Lakein.
- “A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.” ― Confucius
- “Few people have any next, they live from hand to mouth without a plan, and are always at the end of their line.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you ready or not, to put this plan into action.” ― Napoleon Hill
These are just some of my favorites from my favorite authors and influencers. Clearly making plans is a big deal in our lives.
I like making plans. This doesn't mean I always follow them through which is a weakness in most humans, but I like having a plan. There are many reasons for making plans, personally, I'll highlight a few which I find very important;
Plans help anticipate challenges and give time to find solutions. I can not count the number of times I underestimated a task before I realized how huge an undertaking it was after creating a plan. This should be an important point to think about. Have you ever sat down and thought why you have so many unfinished projects?.
Chances are you started so well and motivated and somewhere in the middle you realized a resource, a feature, a requirement is more demanding than you expected and then an evil incarnate called procrastination comes from nowhere, and BOOM! your project becomes just another folder In your laptop to consume space. I only you could have known before starting but wait how could you have, without a plan?
Tracking your progress is essential. I have given up coding so many times before now because I couldn't see any progress in my process. I elaborate on this as one of the issues I'm really working on in this blog post among other nine practices.
Basically, I came to regret every time quit because after a few months I'd look back at some of the small projects I had created and worked on and I would be shocked. I couldn't believe I had created them myself.
This time around, I made sure it is different. How tracking my process. How do you ask? You're looking at it or reading it. My blog. I write about everything I learn. I have a plan to build it in my own domain. I never really understood how deep one can understand a subject by writing or teaching it. I have never before related to one of my favorite quotes today;
"When One teaches, two learn" ... Robert Heinlein
A plan gives you direction. A plan is a definition a step by step process of accomplishing a goal. Have you ever had a look at the website Tutorials Point or W3 schools? if you are a developer and have been doing this for some time I'm sure you have. They are great resources to look up programming concepts especially todo with syntax.
Back in 2015, I used to spend so much time on these websites, but I made no progress whatsoever. Don't misunderstand me, they are great resources and very updated but my problem wasn't with them but lack of direction.
I had to accept one important reality which every new developer should realize. You can not know everything. I know your favorite online instructor looks like they do, but no one can. Trying to learn everything will waste your time, demotivate you and probably break your mind.
Planning doesn't just have to be about your professional life. You should look into planing your personal life specifically your daily life. I believe true happiness in life heavily depends on an equal balancing of the two aspects, lean on one side the other suffers.
For this reason, I advise having a hobby. I have written about some suggestions in this blog post . Balancing your personal life and work has its advantages and on top of that list is a healthy life. You'll avoid burnout and fatigue which I think are the two biggest demotivators, especially for new programmers.
Having a plan saves your execution time because it reduces distractions. You don't have to think about required resources and next steps because that is already covered and all that remains is execution. This will require the help of its brother commitment and close cousin *consistency. *
there are times you will feel like not getting it done, do too. There are times I just listened to the voice in my head that tells me, just take the day off today and you'll get it done tomorrow. in fact it's already noon and this article was to be ready by 10 am, which means tried convincing myself to do it tomorrow and then I looked at my plan and that wasn't part of it so it had to get done.
This is not to say it was easy, but I used an exercise I recently read somewhere. This article or book, sorry not sure which suggested that whenever you don't feel like doing something, try to do it for only 25 minutes. Force yourself to sit for 25 minutes without distractions no matter how uncomfortable it is and you'll see the magic happen. You'll find it hard to stop. I couldn't stop writing this article after the first 10 minutes, try it then take this advice;
“Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent return on energy!” ― Brian Tracy
It turned out to be one of the most detailed and lengthy articles I had to research, learn and write about. Have a look at it here.
Then came the understanding and experience. After this, everywhere I came across a function, I could think about a couple of ways id approach a problem. I was surprised by how much I could recall from what I had learned and written about. Of course, not all of us are blessed with a super identic memory and the ability to recall everything but based on my experience I could recall a better method or solution I previously used.
Were it not for my well-created plan which involved a deep dive into this subject, I doubt I could clearly see my progress as I do.
To be really good at something you need to really work on it. To be excellent at something you need to have a tunnel vision and a sharp focus towards it. Now and then I meet someone so focused and I am left awed and challenged.
This happened today morning. I met this young music producer who from what I can tell hasn't produced a hit song yet, but the energy, focus, interest, and dedication to his work left me wondering what I can do to improve on my side. I could see, that it won't take long before someone with actual influence in that particular field to notice what I did and give the young man a chance.
All I'm advocating for here is for you to be the number one champion of your work. If you don't find your work interesting enough, nobody else will. My interest in coding runs deep, but don't be fooled, interest alone won't carry the day. You need to focus and work on your plan.
There are a lot of distractions especially in the field of technology. There are so many great courses by very knowledgeable instructors, blogs, videos, and books about every subject you can think of, social media posts of other developers achievements posted all over for you to see, which means maintaining focus on your plan won't be a walk in the park.
My advice you need to focus on your own journey. Like I go into detail in this article , run your own race. In this case, focus on your own plan. This is the reason I haven't shared my plan because it works for me. I don't want to influence you to lean my way because I'd be naive to think that one man's or woman's plan works for everyone but the truth is it doesn't.
“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Devil, and Miss Prym
As a developer, the habit of making tangible plans becomes quite a tool in your career. Think about it, creating web designs, or mobile applications is all about a plan. Several steps a user to take to get a service delivered or get access to resources from your product. This proves making plans doesn't only impact your learning and programming journey but also your destination when you start practicing professionally.
Plans will teach you how to be professional and act professionally in your career, which includes crucial practices like booking and making appointments on time and well prepared. As long you were well prepared and planned for a meeting, you'll rarely get caught off guard.
Any descent learning institution from a kindergarten to a university follows a well-defined timetable. They may use different names for it like schedule, classes, curriculum among others, but there is always a plan.
This shows how important having a plan is to your growth as a developer. You need to know where you are headed and what you need to accomplish. If possible add a time limit which makes it even better since it now becomes a goal. I'm still struggling with working under the time limit but the point is there is a plan.
I'm not plowing through numerous unrelated resources without a direction. I may not be where I need to be, but I know the way to get there which is important and more helpful than talking around aimlessly hoping to accidentally get there.
If you have no idea where to begin, I have a very nice resource that actually plaid a big role in this year's plan for my programming career. It's a video by a very good online instructor by the name of Brad Traversy, titled; Web development in 2021.
Obviously, it's related to web development but if you lean towards another field, I'm sure with a bit of research you'll find the right materials to aid your plan. You don't have to follow everything in the materials including the suggested video, just use it as a guideline to come up with your special and customer plan to build your career.
There is a very misunderstood quote especially by people who like to wing it instead of making plans, that;
Man makes plans and God laughs.
Now personally and without any judgment think one of the most prolific reasons people don't make plans due to fear of disappointment when the plans don't work out. This quote is related to a certain bible verse I believe and I don't think it speaks against making plans.
This is a great quote that would caution you that no matter how good a plan is, remember it's just a plan. Without action it's nothing and even with action, there is always a chance that the outcome will not always be as planned. This requires constant adjustment and review of your plans. it requires constant change based on the current situation.
you may not get everything you wanted in the plan but that shouldn't be your target from the start. I think you should target to get close enough as you possibly can and to my experience, this turns out to be more than expected.
To close this article ill depart with a few highlights for you as you make your plans;
- Don't give up
- Keep on learning
- Plan your materials and your days
- To truly understand, teach!
- Follow-through on your plan.
- Above all, remember failure is just but a bitter lesson, dust up and keep moving forward.
I'd like you to hear your opinion on this piece. So please share it in the comment section, if possible share it in your social media channels and if you feel generous enough please follow me on Twitter and this blog platform @cyrusCodes