The Neverending World of Learning Something New

I think this is my favourite topic to post about it. I love the idea of challenging ourselves to learn something new and to see what we can really accomplish if we put our minds to it.

Check out this video of this guy who practices doing backflips all day long. I love the time metric in the bottom corner showing what it actually took for him to learn that skill.

I wanted to try out this theory to see if I could learn something simple, so I did, I learned to juggle, here are the results and here’s what it took.

It always takes you longer than you think, even something that you “think” is taking you a long time is going by faster than you think.

Don’t give up because the road looks long, put your head down and put one foot in front of the other.

Knowing When to Quit

I was listening to an interesting episode of Tim Ferris podcast on knowing when to quit. As also interviewed on the show, my personal favorite is Seth Godin’s “The Dip” as it connected with me right off the bat and I’ve re-read it again a number of times whenever I feel conflicted on where to go or what to do next.

For me, decision time on when to stay and go comes at your lowest moment of craptivity, when you are stuck at that low point between doing something decent (not great) BUT knowing what great is and desperately wanting to get there. You’ve had some big wins that spurned you into continuing on but the shine is starting to fade.

Many people equate this to the feeling of – “I don’t really like my current job, but today was amazing, so everything is changing and I’ll keep going because it is going to work out now” – and maybe it will, which is fantastic. The corner has been turned and everyone is moving forward in unison.

And then a bad day comes, kicking you off your perch and all those emotions of staying or going comes back – “I’M OUTTA HERE”.

I don’t know or can’t say which is right. I can say that when you start to feel that nagging voice in the back of your head suggesting it’s time to give up, you write it down – notepad, moleskinned notebook, napkin – whatever and you focus what you write down on three things.

  • What’s the Date?
  • What are you feeling?
  • What do you want to do?

Next time you feel great or have the same feelings, write them down again. Keep doing it for a month, then look back at the data – do the goods outweigh the bad? Is how you are feeling really beneficial to your growth?

If not, time to go, if so, time to stay.

Take the emotion out of it and look at the data.

Deleting Your Work

Whether it’s code, a blog post, something, anything.

It was work that you did, work that you invested your time in to create something, work that mattered.

And now, a month (or maybe less) later, here you are deleting it, but not wanting to delete it.

You’re staring at it wondering why did I write this?  What was I thinking?  And most predominantly at the forefront of your brain – how much it took?

How much time did I expend writing all of this?

Do I really want to throw all of that effort away?

In software, we call this refactoring.

You write something one day, find a better way to do it the next and you refactor what was old into something new that is better than what it was before.

And we don’t think about how long it took.

So next time you start to think about the cost in deleting something and all that effort that will be lost that you are now throwing away… don’t.

Think about what you are refactoring to make it better and what you have learned to come to this point.

Purge your Personal Backlog

Today, at this moment, every activity I undertake is outlined via a myriad of Trello boards.

Ideas I have for blog posts.

Further fleshed out article ideas and outlines.

The odd product idea.

Marketing directions.

And the list goes on.

At this point in time, these are my backlog. Maybe it was a spark of genius that hit me on the way home from the hardware store or maybe I was at the park and the light looked funny.

Whatever it was, they were inspirations to make things happen.

But as the list grew longer with all my blog post ideas, all I’d do is look at them, trying to sift through what is useful and what isn’t.

The same happens in software, you have this monster backlog built up over years from a customer and internal requests until all that is looking at you is noise.

So I purged the backlog, I selected everything and turfed it all. Starting at ground zero without a safety net and refilling the backlog until one day soon… I’ll need to purge it again.

We shouldn’t be afraid to do this in software either, we don’t need to drag along those requests from years ago that now sit in our ticketing system staring back at us, daring us to make something happen when we don’t really want to.

Purge the Backlog and be Free!

How to Find Your Passion

Do lots of little things.

Try new things out.

See what you like and what you don’t.

Then dig deeper into what you like and narrow your focus, building on each experience.

Don’t worry about the Craptivity or the going from good to great, revel in not knowing anything and the excitement of finding what you love.

Don’t invest $5,000 in finding your passion, I’m sure you can do it for $100 with a healthy dose of blood, sweat, and tears.

After all of it, you still might not have found your passion or where you started might have taken you down a different path.

There is no need to fret or worry.

Your journey has just begun.