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I Quit My Full-Time Job to Teach Myself How to Code

Mel R
Photographer ➡️ Programmer Documenting my Coding Journey Enneagram: Social 9w1 Meyers-Briggs: ENFP
・3 min read

“You win at what you focus on.” Dave Ramsey

Being a huge Dave Ramsey fan I am proud to say that for the first time in my adult life, currently 30, I am debt-free! I have taken his financial advice to heart and it is now a practice that I will continue to follow for the rest of my life. I was thinking about that quote and how it could apply to other areas of my life.
I have been working as a product photographer at an auction gallery shooting a wide variety of interesting items. I had always thought that I was right-brained artistic like the rest of my family, so I have been putting pressure on myself to be more artistic…
Note: Forcing yourself to be artistic does not work!
I am a hard worker no matter what I am doing, so I was successful at this job, but it wasn’t setting my soul on fire.

My partner introduced Hour of Code (https://hourofcode.com/us/learn) to me and I made this puppy jump over various objects using blocks of code instructions that linked together like a puzzle. It was an activity for kids to learn how to code, but it clicked with me. I loved it and my brain just felt hungry for more. Next thing I knew I was spending hours directing Minecraft characters through mazes using these code blocks. I had found ‘my thing’.

I have been learning to code now for about 2 months using various tools including, freecodecamp.com, teamtreehouse.com, and listening to Laurence Bradford ‘s amazingly inspiring podcast Learn to Code with Me.

I was spending every lunch hour and a couple hours in the evening dedicated to learning by taking my laptop everywhere. I was listening to other inspiring people who had completely changed careers and taught themselves how to code 6-8 hours a day while taking and editing photos. I just wanted to completely immerse myself in the technology world.

Several days ago, I realized that what I did to pay off my student loans and debt was using focused intensity. Ramsey is always saying that whatever you are focused on, you win at.
I gave my notice of resignation, and yesterday was my last day as a product photographer, and my first day as a full-time self-taught student. I am leaping out of my comfort zone to achieve my dream of becoming a programmer. I have 100% confidence in myself and am so thankful to have a partner and friends who believe in me.

You may be asking yourself, but how is she going to pay her bills? And to this I say, “hustlin’”. During COVID-19 and paying off debt, I picked up a number of side jobs including, DoorDash, GrubHub, Wag!, and Postmates. My partner and I sold things on facebook marketplace and I also started doing some photoshoots. When you have a goal that you are passionate about, you get very creative with finding solutions to achieve it.

There are several important practices that I believe will keep me motivated.

5 Practices that will Keep Me Motivated

1. Write out a schedule and stick to it.
I’ve got this amazing planner which has day to day, hour by hour lines and I have assigned myself a schedule to help me stay focused.
2. Find/Join/Create a community.
Knowing that I am not alone when I get stuck on a problem gives me peace. I created a local facebook group for like-minded coders in my area and have joined several others. Meetup is an excellent tool to find fun groups. If you surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to be doing, it will help you create that life for yourself.
Plus, having connections is a HUGE bonus in the tech world.
3. Remember that failure is not something to fear.
We all fail and we can choose to let that failure affect our confidence and self worth OR we can choose to build on our failures and learn from them.
4. Work on fun projects that are exciting and spark passion.
This one is very important for me as I tend to lose interest if I am not emotionally invested in what I am working on. I already have a great lineup of projects in mind and cannot wait to get started!
5. Build confidence while building a portfolio.
When working on projects it’s important to share them with others to get feedback. This will make me a better coder and will also boost my confidence. A portfolio is said to be more important than a resume in the tech-world.
Thank you so much for reading. I look forward to sharing more about this incredible journey of personal growth that I am about to embark on!
(Originally Posted June 13th 2020)

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