Learn Something New: Learn To Code

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Coding DoorsAs human beings, it is in our nature to thrive when we feel like we are making progress, when we are seeking and discovering better versions of ourselves. This is why we feel good after an achievement such as graduating from college or receiving a raise at work.

At the centre of all the feel-good emotions is achievement. When we achieve something, suddenly all those hours of work put into the effort of the activity are now worth it. It therefore comes to reason that the bigger the challenge, the greater the emotional high of achievement. One of the best ways to improve our self esteem is to start something new and seeing it through.

I would like to recommend that you take up a challenge that I can guarantee will be fulfilling and rewarding if you stick with it by suggesting that you pick up coding. Now, considering that there are far fewer people in the world who can code relative to those who can’t , chances are you think of coding as something not within your realm of possibilities. Even if you can code already, there is so much new ground to be covered you cannot do it all in one lifetime, so learn some more!

You should not worry too much about how you are going to do it and which Master or Guru must you find to sit at their feet and receive divine wisdom of code mastery. The most important thing is to just start. In the blog post Lifelong Learning Online, I delve into how you can effectively use the Internet to drive your own personal learning. There are numerous resources out there for you to utilize.

If you are wondering what benefits there are to learning how to code, there are many reasons but I outlined and discussed a few in 5 Reasons You Could Benefit From Learning How To Code.

It’s Not That Hard - Really

Most people are interested in coding but keep their distance because they imagine it is hard. They are right but they are also not right. Why? Because they are making this analysis from a distance and everything that is unfamiliar from a distance is bound to be complicated if not seemingly outright impossible.

Take myself for instance. I would like to learn Swahili someday. The language has great appeal for me. Now, a little bit of introspection shows why I haven't learned a single sentence in Swahili even though I’ve had this interest for a while. 

Continuing with this introspective line of reasoning, it is evident that I have done nothing to start realising my desire. I haven't bought books to help  me learn or language lessons in audio format; I haven't even  asked some of my Swahili speaking friends to help me out. As you can see, my commitment game in learning the language is rather weak.

Programming is like learning Swahili in my case- A language. It is what you use to give instructions to a machine so that it can do your bidding. It's a great feeling when you can successfully get a machine to do as you please. 

Like any language, programming has its rules; what are known as syntax and semantics. Once you figure these rules out, it’s smoother sailing from there. And again like all languages you get better at it the more you use them. You should note that there are different computer languages out there and you cannot possibly know them all but you get to choose from the lot depending on your interests and circumstances.

Almost All The Tools You Need Are Free

You are naturally wondering how much learning to code will cost you. Nothing, assuming you already have a computer and Internet access! Well not quite, it will cost you a lot of time. Time well spent if you ask me. The Internet is a wonderful thing, especially if you want to code. 

With a few exceptions, all the tools you need to get started and even take it to the next level are available for free. Yes, that's right, free as in free beer as some say. Furthermore, there are numerous online tutorials and videos to help you along.

The software community is strange in that way; that they give away valuable resources free of charge and even if you got the software for free you have no obligation to also give your product away for free. 

In other words you are free to sell your product derived from the free works of others. There are of course conditions about how you distribute the resulting works. This concept is known as Open Source Software and you can read about it in the blog post  What You Need To Know About Open Source Software.

You Must Get Your Hands Dirty

Coding is a highly practical affair. Imagine taking cooking classes just by listening to a lecturer. Obviously that approach is a guarantee that students from that class will not be dazzling us with taste-bud-tingling cooking sensations any time soon and most likely never.

If you are to become proficient at coding, you have to get in there. You must get your hands dirty. You have to spend some time looking at lines of code and cross referencing online manuals. Getting your hands dirty means making mistakes. Mistakes are good for your learning efforts because you learn and grow as you fix them.

One approach I always recommend is to assign yourself a project. For example, when I started to code, I needed to develop a website for my business and I could not afford to pay someone to do it for me. So I started with , now that I look back, an ugly website compared to what I do today.

I Am Not In A Position To Teach You, But I’d Love To Guide You

It is not easy to get started when you have no idea what to do, how to do it and having all the questions in your head with no one to help you out. I don’t believe you can actually teach anyone to code though. 

Coding is a self-propelled journey of exploration and discovery. Consequently I cannot offer to teach you, if you are completely new to the subject, but I can guide you. If you contact me for some guidance, I will take out the time to point you in the right direction.

Passion and Dedication Are Everything

Your ability to learn to code is predicated upon your level of focus and dedication. I suppose it goes without saying, like with everything else in life. You must really want to learn and stay with it for the long haul. That is why I recommend assigning yourself an actual project.

A personal project could even be your own personal website. It just has to be something that makes it all real and practical for you. It will give you direction and focus. If you are up to it, coding is a highly rewarding activity and you will surprise yourself with what you can achieve along the way if you stick with it.

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