Burnout is a real thing. The field changes so much, if you try to learn every “new hot things” you definitely will get burnt out before you get even close to learning everything.
So I think there are two parts to “learning” something drastically new:
- Finding motivation to learn said thing
- Following through on your motivation so you can sustain learning it for a period of time.
I believe the first one is pretty easy to get. Something as simple as feeling “Oh wow that’s cool, I should learn that” is enough motivation to get you started most of the time. The second one is where most people lose interest and fail to follow through on learning or doing what they wanted to do.
So here’s how I recommend “following through” on learning something new.
There is always a time and place, sometimes you need to make time
- Life is busy. The worst learning situation is one where you have high stress, low energy, and minimal time to relax and just learn. If you get home from work and feel tired and don’t want to think, then studying at this time wont be worth it. Odds are you will be too tired to focus and wont make use of whatever free time you have.
- This not only goes for learning, but life in general. We work to get free time, and then waste all that free time because we work to hard. If possible, pace yourself during the day, save some gas in the tank for later to re-invest in yourself. Again, this advice doesn’t only apply to learning, but life in general
Focus on the little things
- Most of the time you can break learning something big (say React) down into smaller chunks. Like learning a specific functionality, rather than trying to learn everything at once. This should keep you focused on the task at hand, and give you feedback on how your progressing in the smallest chunks. Nothing sucks more than trying to learn all of something, and feel like you know nothing. Think FCC level challenges to get a tiny chunk of knowledge in a small amount of time. If anything, looking up answers and re-doing previous challenges is a low stress, small increment amount you can get done in a few minutes every day if have the motivation to keep chipping away
But, it sometimes pays to take a huge jump
- One of my most favorite strategies for learning is setting myself a crazy stupid goal with a super short deadline, somewhat like a solo hackathon. I usually try to set a goal that is relatively possible to achieve, but only if everything goes 100% smoothly. The I set myself a deadline that usually is 1 or 2 days max, or less. Projects or goals are usually along the line as integrate a CI/CD pipline in the next 3 hours, or learn the basics of React, and deploy to Glitch. These projects usually rely more on what I already know, integrate with something I know little about, and force me to develop as fast and cleanly as possible and stay focused.
- The instant pressure, knowledge of knowing of the impending deadline, and knowledge that this is basically 0-risk, makes it more fun than stressful. So far every one of these “fails”, in that I run into a roadblock somewhere and miss the deadline. That is ok and expected! I usually learn a lot in a short amount of time, from the success and failure of the solo hackathon.
- I’d only take this approach if you have enough time and energy to commit to a decent chunk of time to learn. I’d also not try to do this every day or you will burn yourself out haha.
Embrace failure, and seek it out
- You might try to do a “solo hackathon”, or do FCC challenges, and one thing will come up and shut you down, and that is failure. If you feel like your not learning because something doesn’t “work” as you want, learn why it doesn’t work. A lot of the approaches I use to learning don’t actually focus on getting anything working, rather you focus on the why it doesn’t work rather than what doesn’t work. If your doing an FCC challenge for a full hour and feel like “I’m not cut out for this!” and go watch TV, then your doing it wrong. Rather, understand your doing it right by challenging yourself, dig into the issue, learn what you can about the problem, seek help, debug the issue, learning about how to deal with issues is more important than learning how to do everything perfectly.
I want to say finding motivation is out there for a lot of people, but sustaining that feeling is what gets people stuck most of the time. You only need to be inspired once to start a project, but need to build that project over days, weeks, months, years. Same goes for learning, and if the process you currently have leaves you less inclined to try learning again, I say pick yourself up, dust yourself off and go try with a fresh mind.
Learning is hard, it takes time and grit. Luckily it only takes those two things to learn anything, but if you lack the grit to stick it out when the going is getting rough you wont succeed. Find the zone, drink some coffee, listen to awesome music, find anyway to motivate yourself for 5 minutes and dive right in with what you got. The source of motivation is ultimately one’s self, as is the enemy. Do what you can to put yourself in the best position to motivate and learn, and then jump in while you can. I don’t think anyone can be motivated to learn 24/7 (otherwise they wont sleep haha) but just make use of the time you do have.
Good luck, keep building, keep grinding, and keep your head up