How to start coding and keep going

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A while ago I thought It would be interesting to try wakeboarding. After the whole experience I’verealized that the it was very similar to the one I had when I was just starting to learn programming.While there’s no perfect analogies here’s what I’ve learned and the rest of the story.

I live in a city where there’s like fifteen lakes. Doing some kind of water sport is pretty natural to me.

If you haven’t tried wakeboarding it’s just like waterski but you’re using a board. Here’s how it goes:

you strap yourself into a board

stand on the edge of pier

get a towrope and wait…

Then you can hear a loud CLICK and suddenly feel this strong pull and you have to really hold on to the rope. You almost feel like someone is trying to tear out your arms. It’s really scary the first couple of times!

Then you land straight into a water. If you don’t properly balance your body you end up falling flat on your face. Then you have to let go of the rope soon enough unless you want to be dragged under a water for a few seconds.

At least that what I was mostly doing on my first wakeboarding session.

I was exhausted and cold.

But riding even for a minute seemed to be so much fun.

So I kept going.

My family was there and couple of our friends too. There were also a few beginners trying to have their first ride just like we did.

Everyone had a such a great time. We were cheering one another and laughing at our mistakes (they looked pretty spectacular).

Why wasn’t I willing to give up? And why did I even try this in the first place?

This is an interesting couple of questions because when you try to learn something new it seems that there are a lot things that can hold you back.

I had no wakeboarding expereince before my first session.

I wasn’t sure about it at first. But the more I thought about it the more I was seeing myself at least trying it. Over time I move from feeling that it’s just not for me to feeling ok with the whole experience.

If you can’t get going with programming ask yourself this:

How can I learn something simple to get me started?  

It can be just reading a short tutorial. Maybe Installing Python and printing “You’re awesome!”.

Keep it simple. The important thing is that you’ll take the first step.

I wasn’t obsessing with the perfect wakeboarding gear or finding the best lift. This would slow me down.

I’ve used what was out there.

It’s easy to fall into a trap of endless preparations. Learn the essentials to get started then apply it. There’s nothing like direct experience.

My first programming experiences were pretty embarrassing. Even thought I was really exited about reading  my first programming book I tend to fall asleep while reading it. What’s is this all about I asked myself? I was trying to get too much informations into my head. Only after putting together a few simple programs I started to “get it”.

The first session on the “wake” was pretty intensive. My body was sore for a few days. I was trying to do too much with too little time. Just like when I started to learn how to code.

Give yourself time to learn.

You can’t cram non-stop. Learning a complex skill require some downtime to integrate the informations that you’ve just learned.

I’m sure that you’ve had this experience when you’re trying to push through with solving a problem or understand something and you get nowhere. Then you get tired and after a nap or a good night’s sleep it all come together.

You need to find a right balance between action and rest.

The pain in your body is pretty clear signal to slow down. With mind is not always so obvious.

I would probably benefit from breaking the wakeboarding session into smaller ones. I would have to try and see what’s works best.

I figure this one out with coding. I know where the balance is. Over time you will find yours. Just start small and easy.

Ok, so those are two fundamental things to remember. There are probably more the golden rule is to keep things simple.

I didn’t continue with wakeboarding after my first session, But I know someone that did.

A year after the first session I run into a girl who was also learning wakeboarding the same time when I did. It turned out that she is still doing wake boarding, but on a much more advanced level.

Like jumping on things level. At the beginning she couldn’t even start from the pier. Wow.

Without the first clumsy session all of that wouldn’t be possible. It put things into perspective for me. I’ve started to really appreciate those first simple programs that I wrote and what it all lead to over the years.

In the end my first session was a blast. After about five hours of trying and on my last run I was able to ride for like a minute. Sure I end up in the water on the first corner but for me it was a huge success.

So, get those first coding exercise under you belt. Don’t try to be perfect, just get started as simple as possible. It will definitely lead to something good.

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3 comments

  1. Thomas says:

    Thank you. This is a great reminder to those of that have tons of experience in one area to remember to start slow when we start something new.

  2. Tami says:

    Absolutely needed this reminder! I am definitely older than you, and have tried and conquered many new skills over the years. It is still just as scary and intimidating at first as it always was! But I can do anything if I just keep pushing forward, a bit at a time. Needed to see this because I am new to GIS and its ALL intimidating!….Onward!

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