Struggling to Keep Up?... We All Are

Even before I started web development, more experienced devs told me they struggled with not being able to stay current in their field.

When it comes to those frameworks or languages that make me feel behind, I like to look hard at why I feel behind before I get frustrated.

“See that boulder over there?”
“Is it heavy?”
“Not if you don’t pick it up”
- Ajahn Chah (as quoted by Jack Kornfield)

Here are some of the things that make me feel behind:

Of these, none are actually true measurements of my worth as a software developer. None of them measure whether I’m actually behind the curve. My real worth as a software developer is based on the value I bring to whatever I’m working on and/or whoever I’m working for.

So when you start feeling behind and you want to take action, make sure you’re focusing on something that brings value to what you’re doing.

Value comes from either a) adding revenue or b) cutting costs. The internet doesn’t know the best way for you to do that for yourself or for your organization.

I like to follow these steps to learn new and exciting frameworks and languages into my repertoire.

  1. Identify a place where you can improve the codebase, e.g performance, maintainability, test coverage
  2. Identify a measurable gain you can make with that issue, e.g. make it faster, make it easier to push, make it manageable
  3. Search around for new ideas/frameworks that address this issue, e.g. dom manipulation is slow, networks aren’t reliable, things can happen in parallel
  4. Learn how you might use the new idea/framework/language to address your particular issue, e.g message queueing, concurrency, IOC, TDD
  5. If you see a connection, learn the new thing, make the improvement!
  6. If you don’t see a connection, you’ve learned what that new thing is for!

This process helps me to a) feel like I’m moving forward and not treading water and b) make sure I’m continuing to provide value with my research

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