It’s 2018 and I am sure you have your sights set on making this year the best year possible. Maybe this is the year you finally learn code, land your first programming gig, start a business, become a parent. Whatever it is, I want to share a secret. It’s something the previous year taught me, and something I think will really make a difference to your 2018.

I want to start by taking a quick look back on my 2017, just to give you a bit of context. So here goes.

Quick LOOK BACK on 2017

What actually happened? Well, I survived my first year as a dad, started a blog, read more than I ever have, taught myself to code, and all while juggling my full-time job. To some people, this may not seem like a lot, but for me it was. You see prior to 2017 I was somewhat LAZY!

I mean…I wasn’t a layabout, but I just had a terrible habit of wanting to make improvements to my life but never doing anything. Does this sound familiar? Then thank God I’m not alone! Side note, in that case, you may appreciate this post as well…5 ways to MOTIVATE yourself into ACTION


For a long time, I had really wanted to learn code. Unfortunately, I was an expert at avoiding the coding grind. But not anymore! In 2017, I finally got off my arse to learn code and implement some big changes. Of course, some big changes also happened to me like becoming a dad (which you can read about here). Never the less it all added up to the person I morphed into over the course of last year.

It strange to say that at the end of 2017, that I felt different. Because, if I’m honest, I’d never had that feeling before. I never felt like I grew much the previous years. I felt very STATIC up until this point. Again can anyone else relate to this?

Now, while 2017 was an awesomely productive year, a turning point where I actually got stuff done! I don’t believe this feeling was solely down to the fact that I finally “got off my arse”. Partly it was.

However, I think there is something more fundamental that underpins my whole year, which really gave me this sense of personal growth. And I really want to share this in hopes it will to help others grow and bloom this year, like a pretty flower (my attempt at humor).


security background with hand and mobile phone in flat design

I’m not going to waste time, I’m just going to jump in and say it. GET IN OVER YOUR HEAD THIS YEAR! This might sound like strange advice and maybe even dangerous advice, but please read this whole post to fully understand what I mean.

The simple truth is I spent the whole of 2017 in over my head! I was a new parent, who had no clue what he was in for. Any new parents out there? Strap in!

I was also simultaneously trying to learn code with very little time or energy while also attempting to build a blog.

SPOILER ALERT! I didn’t have a clue about code, blogging or parenting for that matter. To be fair, no new parents have a clue, we are all the same. Just dears in highlights; muddling through, keeping our heads above water until we finally learn to swim. Keep that thought in mind for the next section.

I really picked the perfect time to jump on the whole self-improvement hype. NOT. But honestly, there’s never a good time, it’s now or never right??

2017 was full of trials and struggles day in and day out, both as a dad, aspiring programmer, and noob blogger. However, these struggles change me for the better, taught me some very valuable lessons and ultimately helped me GROW into Code Dad. I know, it’s a crap superhero name! 

So how now you know the secret, where do you start?

scuba diver with sea creatures background in flat designDive into the DEEP END

In order to “get in over your head” you need to be swimming in deep water. It’s no use paddling in the shallows. So you might as well dive straight in.

The moment you dive into the deep end things start to get REAL. You’re in a challenging situation and you have no choice but to sink or swim. It’s by throwing ourselves into these situations that we FORCE ourselves to grow out of necessity.

What I find amazing is just how much you can surprise yourself in those situations. For example, you may have an idea for a project, which you haven’t the first clue how to build. Your initial thought is “this is impossible!”. Yet, by hammering away long enough you have that eureka moment.

To grow as a programmer and person you need to keep challenging yourself and keep moving forward. You don’t get anywhere in life by standing still. However painfully obvious that sounds.

Even though it is a painfully obvious statement, it can sometimes fall on deaf ears. I know because those deaf ears were mine once upon a time. It took hearing the same thing hundreds of times before it finally sunk in.

Now granted, the idea of jumping in the deep end can be a scary one, and it does have its drawbacks. The biggy is the risk of drowning. So I thought I would address exactly what to do in this situation.

What do you do if your DROWNING?

There are two sides to the sink or swim method, and unfortunately, you won’t always swim the first time around. But that doesn’t mean the game is over!

What you need to remember is that you can always SWIM BACK.

The whole reason I say “dive into the deep end”, is because I believe to grow into the person or programmer you want to be in 2018, you need to put yourself under pressure. After all, diamonds are created under extreme pressure.

However, I feel it’s unrealistic to assume there are no limits to the depths you can jump into.

Everybody has a limit, I am not delusional. We have to accept reality for what it is…AT THE TIME. And the fact of the matter is you may have bitten off more than you can chew. In that case, trying to stick it out can become very destructive and harmful, which is why I want to remind you to swim back. Remember that you are in control.

Now don’t mistake this for giving up, it’s simply a system to push the boundaries of what you’re capable of while making sure you stay ALIVE!

When you go the gym you aim to go flat out until you can’t lift anymore. But at that point you STOP, go home and rest, otherwise, you could incur a serious injury.

The next time you hit the gym, you do the same routine, only this time you push past your previous limit and discover you can lift more. WHAT?? I guess you grew stronger!

A pretty weak analogy I know. But what I am trying to get at is your limit is NOT an absolute. Sure at the time it seems pretty damn solid! But the truth is if you keep returning, learning, and growing. You will eventually push past that limit and on to a new one. It just takes time.

businessman falling downYou still GROW even if you FAIL…I did

Obviously, we aim to succeed at whatever we do, but failure is no bad thing. And when you are actively jumping into deeper and deeper water you’re eventually GOING TO FAIL. It’s just the nature of things.

But this post is NOT about how to succeed, it’s about how to grow. Regardless of whether you sink or swim, you are going to grow. And really, isn’t that the aim here?

I am not going to go into depths about how all successful people fail, or that failure makes you stronger, teaches you lessons, and all the rest of it.

Why? Partly because I’ve already touched on it, but also because many high profile people already preach the same thing. However, despite knowing this, it still doesn’t make failure any less scary. This is probably because these people are operating at a whole other level, which makes it much hard to relate. Take Elon Musk, for example, he almost seems superhuman!

I feel, in order to try and really help make the idea of failure less scary I would walk you through my experience of getting out of my depth, and yes, failing! Hopefully, this will show you that it does happen and it’s ok. It’s nothing on the scale of Elon Musk, but it sure felt big to me.

My Failure…

What I consider MY BIGGEST FAILURE of 2017 happens to be centered on my blog. Yes, this very thing you are reading!

I created the blog because I wanted to push myself more and more. I wanted to move out of the bubble I was in, start assuming the role of Code Dad and help as many people as possible.

I had so many big plans for the blog in 2017, I planned to do weekly posts and create a number of resources to help. However, after diving in I found I just couldn’t keep up with it all. I was trying to do all this blog stuff, while still learning code at night, working full-time, and waking up with a baby. Let’s just say, zero sleep was had it and it was killing me. Not ideal, when my whole theme is BALANCE!

In actual fact, I started to become ill and had bad anxiety. So I took a step back, re-balanced my life, pushed out my deadlines, and chose to post less frequently. I felt like a massive failure! I thought if I can’t even meet these deadlines what is the point. Clearly, this is NOT the mentality to have.

But even though I felt like I failed, I still wanted to keep trying and keep pushing. It was in my nature now.

So I continued! I started taking a different approach, planned things out more, and embarrass the idea of failure as a learning curve. I began to feel much happier and way more positive about the future of this blog. I’m now very excited to see what 2018.

Yeah looking back, there were still a ton of things I wanted to do in 2017. I had targets I didn’t hit, stuff I never got round to doing, and a list of failures. As much as I can say I achieved a lot last year, I can equally say I failed a lot. But I am proud to say…I GREW.

Hopefully reading this may help you conquer that fear of failure, which is stopping you from jumping into the deep end.


Right, so the whole point of this post is to help you understand what I believe is the fundamental cause of personal and professional growth. Be that as a programmer, person, or whatever.

And that is to GET IN OVER YOUR HEAD.

This year really go big, push yourself to do something you didn’t think you could. Make yourself uncomfortable, jump in the deep end, say yes to big projects. It really is the way we grow.

And remember…

Whether your “killing the game” or “falling on your face”, as long as your really challenging yourself, you will grow. So whatever happens in 2018, take solace in that knowledge.


Feature image designed by Freepik

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About the Author Owen

Creator of Code Dad, father and self-taught programmer. My mission is to balance life, work, family, all while learning to code, and hopefully help others who want to do the same.

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