Hi there – I taught myself to code. You can teach yourself, too. It takes work and time, but it’s worth it.
Because programming can be used to improve every type of job there is. Whether you work as a janitor, an engineer, a financial analyst, or an insurance agent – you can use programming to make yourself more efficient, think critically, and bolster your resume.
Here’s how I learned to code:
I changed my environment
Every success story starts with a plan. A plan for how to achieve your goals makes your goals achievable. There is much truth in the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
My plan revolved around three core ideas:
- Research what I needed to learn to achieve my goals
- Change my daily environment
- Surround myself with the ideas of other coders
Research what I needed to learn
There are a plethora of resources out there for what you can learn and how to learn it. Check out this extremely helpful roadmap to help you choose your course.
I made a mistake when starting out: I knew that I wanted to learn to program, but my exact goal was not clearly articulated. I enjoyed building Minecraft servers using Spigot, and I had fun creating my own plugin to be used with it. That lead me to start by learning the Java programming language from a book. I didn’t have a clearly defined goal, so the going was slow and dry for a long while.
Fortunately, I found some projects that I really liked and that taught me a lot:
Once I made my way through those projects, I knew that I loved solving highly technical problems. The things I enjoyed fell under the categories of both DevOps and web development. From there, I went on to learn from:
The most important thing for my learning at this point was that once I picked my next project, I would stick with it till completion.
Changing my daily environment to help my learning
At this point I changed my physical environment so that I could learn more code.
Teach others to code
If you find an opportunity to teach others what you are learning, please take it. There is no better way to teach yourself code than having the pressure of knowing you have to teach it to someone else. I was fortunate enough to find a local tutoring center that teaches kids to code and they gave me a position. I spent 8-10 hours every weekend teaching others to do the things I was learning.
Wake up early
What you do in the morning affects your entire day. Utilize that time to learn something new before the day starts.
Carve out an extra hour each morning for learning
I would wake up an extra hour early each morning so I could take time working through my courses. Even if I could only learn a small, 5-minute piece of information, I would count that as progress. No matter how small your accomplishment, keep track of it and use as a motivator.
Eat a healthy breakfast
The breakfast meal is surprisingly underestimated. When you wake up, you have just spent the last 8 or hours not eating (probably). Getting a hearty breakfast will provide your brain with the energy it needs to absorb and retain information. This isn’t a joke – my favorite breakfast right now is eating Kodiak Cakes (whole grain flapjacks). They always hit the spot.
Thinking in Code
Surround yourself with other like-minded learners and coders. Go to local meetups – they’re great!
Subscribe to and peruse tech-minded sites:
Most importantly, balance your curiosity with discipline. Stick to what you want to finish learning, but keep a list of the things you want to learn next. Make a plan for how and when you’ll teach yourself code. Then use your dedicated learning time to execute your project ideas!
You just read: Part 2. How to Go About Teaching Yourself to Code
How I learned to code: