7 reasons I learnt code

7 reasons why I learnt code

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In my previous post, “Hello World”, I mentioned my decision to learn code and highlighted the moment I “got serious” about learning to program. But, I kind of skipped over the reasons why? So I have written them down to give you get a better insight into my decision.

1. Role model to my son

Baby holding handsI thought I would start with this soppy one, get it out of the way you know.

You may have already guessed that the birth of my son played a big part in my decision, and so he should, he’s my son.

As parents, we are their teachers when it comes to showing them how to conduct themselves in life. Now I don’t think any parent can be 100% perfect, that is unrealistic. Most of the time we just strive not to do anything too stupid, and as long as they are still in one piece at the end of the day, I take that as a win.

Nevertheless, I wanted to be the person he looked up to and set a good example for him. Regardless of what I wanted to learn or do with my life, I want to show him that if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything. Whether that’s teaching yourself programming or simply putting your shoes on the right feet.

2. Passion for the craft

Laptop with codeThis seems like a pretty obvious one! And I am sure, for many programmers, this will be the main reason they got into the field in the first place.

I was first drawn to programming by the possibilities it offered. The things that could be created from what appeared to be jibberish on a screen seemed like MAGIC to me.

Then when I actually began learning, I saw the intricate layers that went into those nonsense lines, and it began to feel more like ART. That probably sounds weird to a lot of people, but hey, I’m a weird guy.

However, let me just try and justify myself. When you look a beautiful painting you can recognize the care and attention that has gone into it. It makes you appreciate the artist and their craft. For me, the same can be said for a well-written and structured piece of code. It’s an art.

PERSONAL ADVICE:

If you are thinking about getting into programming, or anything in life for that matter, passion is a must. It’s one of the things that will keep you going when you have a sea of red errors and all hope seems lost. 

3. Looking for a new challenge

Mountain climbI get board…quickly! And I need to feel like I am progressing and moving forward otherwise I get down and frustrated. Does anyone else get this?

In short, I need to keep challenging myself. I have been able to do this to a degree in my day job, by taking on more responsibility, leading projects etc. However, I sense I have reached my ceiling. Many people will know what that feels like.

“Ok Owen, well why don’t you just move up? Or change jobs?”. Unfortunately, through economic circumstances, there are limited opportunities to progress in my current organization (There ain’t no jobs to move up to). I have also not been very successful in securing external jobs.

But you know what? That’s fine. I don’t have to wait for a challenge to present itself. I can go and make my own!

PERSONAL ADVICE:

If you feel like you’re at a dead-end in your career, don’t wait for something to happen. Make it happen. Learn a new skill, start a business, go solo. What’s the worst that can happen? You FAIL?

Well, at least you know what NOT to do next time. Failure is part of success, everyone fails, but we learn. Elon Musk almost went bankrupt blowing up 3 rockets in pursuit of his so-called “pipe dream”, luckily the 4th was a success, *thumbs up*.

If you don’t try you will never know. You don’t want to look back and think “what if”.

4. Love new technology

Mobile phone using cameraDo you ever look on in awe at the technology around you, and go on to think, “what does the future hold?”. Just me again?

Most of my days are spent perusing TechCrunch to see what the latest thing is (mostly it seems to be all about AI or VR). Often I will hear or read a story about a new piece of tech that just blows my mind. Then straight after I think, “how cool would it be if I helped create it”.

I know this is a far off dream that many probably share, which has been fed to us by the stars of Silicon Valley. But you know what? It’s good to dream!

5. Creative outlet

Drawing of the word createYou may have guessed from my previous post, I used to think of myself as somewhat of an artist. I have a creative side, which at the moment seems to be lingering in the background just gathering dust.

I constantly have a string of app ideas floating around up there. Most of my ideas might be utter garbage, but unless I create them I won’t know!

Programming also promises the creative freedom to really build whatever you can imagine. Don’t like the world? Make a new one. It’s crazy to think that’s possible with lines of code.

6. I like learning

Textbook and glassesThis title feels odd to write because in my last post I mentioned that I’m technically a dropout. So this may be the last thing you expected me to write. However strange it is, I genuinely do.

Now I will admit that I didn’t really enjoy the structure of my formal education experience. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like learning.

In fact, I will share a little embarrassing story with you. When I was little, probably around 6, after school had finished, I would go up to my teacher and actually ask for homework. WTF, what was that all about?

I like to understand things, figure out how they work and then apply them. Which is exactly what you do when you are learning to program. If I could, I would learn every language, but I don’t think that’s practical or well advised! I have often heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none”.

7. Money (that horrible word)

Piggy bankDid this title make you cringe? It made me. I’ve never really been frivolous when it comes to money. I can easily spend 30 minutes just trying to decide if I REALLY need a new pair £20 jeans.

I will say now that I DON’T think money is everything. And I DON’T think you should do anything is life for the sole purposes of making loads of money. And I DON’T think becoming a programmer will make me automatically rich.

The sad truth is that everyone needs money to live. To pay the bills and support their families etc. And as I mentioned in the previous post, being able to provide financial security for my son was one of my biggest concerns.

It probably would have been a lot easier if I just got a second job. But the easy route is not always the best. And as I just said, I don’t think you should do anything in life for the sole purpose of money. Plus, for me, learning code ticked many more boxes. Not just a supplementary income.

For me, the prospect of learning programming offered more opportunities in the long term. It offered me the chance to develop my career and add value to myself professionally.

PERSONAL ADVICE:

When is comes to your career, it’s good to think of yourself as a product almost. Products with more value cost more, simple. Of course, there are those products where you are paying extortionate amounts, just for the name. But I am sure the same can be said for some people.

You understand the point I am trying to make. By upskilling yourself in any field, not just programming, you add value to yourself, which opens up more opportunities.

So again, learn, take a course, start a business, whatever you think will add value. But make sure it’s something you enjoy and want to do. Don’t just do it for the money. Because even if you succeed, and get that promotion, you may still be doing a job you hate. Although, at the end of the day it is your choice.

Summary

These are my personal reasons for wanting to learn code. If you are also thinking about taking that leap or learning a new field, I would just like to suggest a couple of things based on my experience.

  1. Makes sure it’s something you enjoy. This will make the experience fun and exciting. Plus you are going to have to commit to it.
  2. Know your main motivation. When the journey gets hard (and it will) this is the thing you can call upon to keep you focused and carry on. Mine is my son…obviously.
  3. Have more than one reason for doing it. If you have just ONE reason it becomes some much easier to brush it off and accept defeat. Having lots of reasons add weight to your decision, making it easier to stick to.

I hope you have enjoyed and thanks for reading.

Thinking about why I learnt code also got me thinking about the “everyone should learn code” movement that was floating around a few years ago. In my next post, I wanted to give you my take, which may surprise you.

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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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