When you think about skills, you're probably thinking about programming languages and frameworks. There are a lot of those, and they vary depending on which kind of developer you want to be. We can consider these hard skills.
But there are many so-called soft skills (I personally do not agree with the name, but we will go with it). The dictionary defines those as:
“Personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people.”
Those skills are more complex than your tech stack, because you can’t just prove them in a test, and most companies won’t ask you about them. But they are, in my opinion, vital to new developers.
I am Pachi, a self-taught developer and a Latinx immigrant. And without perseverance, I would have given up on a developer career a while ago.
What is perseverance, you might ask? The dictionary says:
“Persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
And let me tell you, the delay will feel eternal and the difficulties will show up one after another.
I am telling you this from a place of experience. I have yet to get that first dev job we all see people talking about. All my work experience comes from accepting any and every opportunity that is offered to me (which I don’t recommend – it is exhausting and the burn out is certain).
So how do you keep going? Well, I'll tell you.
How to persevere in 3 steps
Know your "why"
I don’t care if your reason is to save the hungry, to be the next Bill Gates, to help your parents buy a new home, or even just to pay your monthly bills.
You have to have a reason that is strong enough to motivate you when things aren’t looking awesome.
My family is in Brazil, and dollars convert to a lot of money there. I really want to help my family to live a more comfortable life.
So I have a picture frame with them just sitting on my computer. They are my number one reason I'm working to become a developer.
So just find something that can keep you going: money, family, glory – or all of it!
Have a Plan
No, you don’t have to buy a pretty planner and fancy pens and stickers and write down short and long term life goals. Although you can do that if if that is your thing. It certainly isn’t mine. I am a minimalist. So let’s keep things short and effective.
Figure out what you want to learn, and why. And how. You can give yourself a time frame, but keep it loose so you don’t pressure yourself too much and end up feeling like a failure.
Your plans should look something like this:
“I want to learn React. Because I am a front-end developer, and React is a popular framework that I see a lot in job ads in my area.
I will start with the freeCodeCamp free React class. And it would be great if I could study 5 hours a week and get it done in 3 months.”
It has to make sense to you, seem doable, and not scare you too much (unless that is how you work).
I often see people saying they don’t set goals because they are afraid that they will fail and feel terrible about it. Your little plan here is just a plan. It helps if it makes you feel excited and hopeful but not overwhelmed.
Also, there is no shame in changing your plan as needed. I was freelancing for a company that used a framework I didn’t know (they didn't use ReactJs, the one I wanted to learn).
So I revised and adapted my plan. That also helped me work on being flexible, and that is definitely an important skill in our big tech world, where things change everyday.
Give yourself permission to chill
New coders are fearless and unstoppable. They are active on social media, they have 10 Udemy courses and have started only 3, they have way too many websites saved and tabs open, and people keep telling them more and more things to learn.
*deep breath* It is exhausting!
You want to succeed. I know, I see you! And there is SO much to learn. But you have to respect your mind and body.
It is okay to take a day off and binge watch some show, read a good (non-technical) book or just do nothing at all. It may be cold tea or a warm bath, maybe chocolate or going for a walk. But it helps to know that little things that can help you relax and get your mind where it needs to be to go back to work in a health way.
We all know that procrastination is our biggest enemy (I will just check my Twitter REAL quick before finishing this article). But sometimes it is easier to deal with things in the long run if we give in every now and then.
I am by no means what most people would consider a "successful" developer yet. I have a part-time job at a small company and I have big dreams and places to go. So I also will be revisiting this article again and again.
But here you have my "secrets"... The things that has been keeping me going. And I bet you already do some of these things as well, and you didn’t even know it!
I bet you are a Junior Dev full of perseverance, making your way in this dev world. And now, you do know these tricks and you can use them in your favor.
Every time that you are stuck, go back to your plan and check if you are on track with it. If everything is on track but you still feel "off", have a little talk with yourself about your WHYs and try to get pumped up about them again.
But don't forget, sometimes the answer is to just take some time off to relax for a bit.