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Hicham ElMir
Hicham ElMir

Posted on • Originally published at hichamelmirblog.Medium on

Coding with Purpose: A motto I live by.

21/12/21 was an interesting date for me. On one hand, it feels like a bunch of 1s and 2s interchanging 😁. On the other hand, on that day, I have officially launched my portfolio website that I worked on for some time. I never felt that much excited about launching something, since my senior graduation project. The website is a representation of who I am as a person, what are my coding skills (demonstrated in the building of the website) and other relevant networking features.

When I was designing the page, I was researching how usually portfolios work, and I was trying to come up with an instant eye catcher. Something that can pull you into the content, but also describe myself to you and what I stand for in my work, without even scrolling or diving into the page. A Greeting seemed out of the question, as a dedicated Who Am I section in the page was in the works already. Instead, after getting introspective for some time, I decided on what to do. Hence, when you visit my page, you are greeted with a full screen, black and green (my favorite colors) gradient with interactive flowing nodes, and one phrase in the center: Coding with Purpose.

I have settled for this motto, not only for my page, but for my work in the future. In other words, I promised myself that any future instance of coding I will pursue, should serve a purpose that benefits the people and empowers their lives for the better. In this post, I’ll walk you through why I believe in this motto, and what was my thought process behind choosing it. I’ll give actual behind-the-scenes examples when I was building my portfolio, and try to reach some conclusion for the future.

Why Mottos?


Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Picture this…You’re sitting in your school’s theatre, along with your classmates. You’re all waiting for whoever to come on stage, and give you some orientation that — supposedly — should inspire you and give you some wisdom. The aim is to utilize the provided wisdom to empower you on your journey in achieving what you’re working towards. Where’s the issue you ask? We don’t always share the same energy or feeling as the speaker. The reason for that lack is due to our minds perceiving what is going on as meaningless talks and slogans. We find no value in it, and it feels like something we heard before from high school, family, neighbours…You get the picture!

This picture, is one example of many, why the vast majority of us don’t set concrete goals. Moreover, they won’t define for themselves a well-laid-out plan or “guided principle” of living while pursuing career growth. In other words, that ‘plan’ is called a Personal Motto.

Now…While mottos — as mentioned — may be sentences of wisdom that you heard a multitude of times, they do play a role in defining the philosophy and higher purpose of implementing your work and executing it. The end goal is to execute work that would keep you going forward and would keep you seeking improvement. Following so, you eventually sky-rocket to your expectations, and rise above them to horizons you never imagined.

Mottos help clear your head. They help taking out all the excessive ideas, all the outside pressure, all the “How will I pull this off?!” feelings and then focusing on a one simple magnificent principle that you stand by. This principle helps giving your satisfaction of the day, regardless of the outcome and its size. As long as you keep that motto, and hold it close in all you achieve, you will never feel discouraged or unsatisfied. What you choose your motto to be does not matter as long as it holds a close value to yourself and only yourself. Apple for instance, has the “Think Differently” motto and Nike has the “Just do it!” motto, while Google has “Don’t be evil”. I have no idea why they chose that 😐, but Hey! it works for them.

Considering the above, I ventured into finding my motto.

What was I thinking when I settled for “Coding with Purpose” ?

Throughout my life, I always had an energy for creating things. I was naturally very curious, the kind that asks a dozen questions a second. It was so intense I had to dial it down a little 😬. I always had that motive force to “Change the World” just like any young soul. During Freshman year in College, I started the thought process of “Who Am I?” and “Who do I aspire to be?”. It was hard for me to settle on one philosophy, because in my mind I am limiting my energy. What do I choose? What principle will suit me the most? What principle would always give me courage? regardless whether today was an achievement or not.

Fast forward to some time later, I was talking with my dear Mother about this, and she happened to ask me:

What is one thing you want your work to have, regardless of its size?

After some thinking…I got it! I told my Mom:

I want my work to have Impact!

She tells me then:

Then that’s it! Make ‘Impact’ your goal in everything you do and seek.

Hence, I came up with the first early version of my motto: Coding with Impact!

I was thrilled and happy, and I was getting hyped with my Mom…until reality hitted me again:

But Mom…What if my coding work did not have the Impact I imagined? what if I came short?

She tells me hence with a calm voice (and I’ll never forget this):

Just because you did not see the impact, does not mean your work lacked impact. In fact, your work was an experience that kept you going, made you learn and eventually, gave you “Purpose”!

If there was any instance to have an imaginary lightbulb pop on top of my head, it was this one! 💡

I promised myself from this time forward, that my moral compass, my guided principle…my Motto is gonna be “Coding with Purpose”. Meaning, I would make sure that any code work I will approach in life, is done with purpose. I shall give 101% to my work, regardless whether its results satisfy me or not…The point is to making looking at the bright side a habit, to work hard… and to give it a small leap of faith… in myself, in the process, in the “purpose” whether I can comprehend it or not.

Coding — my website — with Purpose

When it came time to put this motto into work for my portfolio website, it was a rollercoaster for me. There were a number of challenges, from finding a visual identity that represents my vibe, to coding the website’s backend and sticking myself to a framework.

Let’s start with the framework.

I worked on various projects in the past, but some of them had — due to corporate reasons — some loose ends and cuts in features for a variety of reasons. For this project, I ensured to stick to a selected tech stack, and to do implement the project following every layer of that stack. In my case, I opted for the MERN tech stack. My first ‘purpose’ was to fully follow a project’s guidelines and to get it done, no matter the circumstances. Usually, for a website with a personal aspect, there’s tendency to hard-code everything. Instead, I followed the stack’s backend architecture using MongoDB for my databases and ExpressJS for serving and fetching any info.

Moving on to designing the front-end, I settled for ReactJS. While coding the UI components was generally an easy task, designing components and ensuring they have:

  1. An Elegant Design.
  2. Responsiveness on any screen size.
  3. A matching color palette.
  4. A consistent design language.

…was probably another challenge to be tackled, because my ‘purpose’ in this scenario was to give you a look that defines me as a person and a developer.

In the end, I think the hardest part of implementing all of this, was consistency and dedication. This project took around 2 months, and I was juggling it along midterms, projects and other semester perks. Yet, I was able to launch the project, and have it deployed on time. This brings me to the 3rd ‘purpose’: Time is never an issue, if there is faith in the cause or the objective. In other words, I believed in this website’s potential, I believed in its power to tell the world my story as a programmer, what I stand for, what I aim and aspire to work on, and what I envision for my future as I venture on my life-long journey.

So… what happens next?

To sum it up, we discussed what a motto is, how I came to find my motto, and how I putted it into work, when coding my website.

“Coding with Purpose” is not an easy motto for me to follow, and that’s exactly what makes it interesting!

It’s a life-long challenge of self-improvement and self-dedication, to always learn more, apply more, and enjoy the process.

I believe that anything I will attempt at doing will be for a higher cause, a higher purpose…For this is the moral compass that encourages me to get up, and rise from bed every morning, wondering the same old question: “What can I change today? How can I get 0.01% closer to my higher purpose?”.

So…After launching my website, what happens next you ask? I seek another purpose! 😎

And let me ask you this before I leave, if you had to pick a motto for your life:

What would your motto be?

Acknowledgment: I would like to personally thank my dear Mother, my dear sister Meryam in particular and all my other siblings, my friends for standing beside me when working on this. I couldn’t have done it without you guys! ❤️ Finally, I would like to firstly and lastly thank God, for without Him, I wouldn’t be able to make this happen!

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