Coding Better, Stronger, Faster

As a self-taught programmer, I have come to terms with the fact I still have gaping holes in my programming knowledge. Sometimes I feel like a complete novice and that I will never improve my programming skills. My ability to write code from scratch is a lot more limited than I would like and it makes me feel pretty self-conscious when among my fellow programmers in my department. Because of this and my predisposition to self-deprecation have caused me to flounder at reaching my work goals. So I’ve recently decided to make a real effort to learn new languages and learn programming theory.

I was stuck in a pretty deep and dark rut for a good year and I am trying to tear myself out of it. I’ve already hit a few of my non-programming work goals — Google Analytics Individual Qualification certification and Google Tag Manager certificate course. I have plans to get Google Adwords and Bing Ads certified as well. That will round out my non-programming goals for the rest of the year. I plan on using these (somewhat easier) non-programming goals to help keep my momentum going in really learning some languages and work on multiple projects to help me practice coding and actually create a github presence for my account. (I have no projects on there at the moment.)

I am zeroing in on learning Ruby, Javascript and more about relational databases. I plan to pad this out with theory and algorithms. My first project I will be attempting is a simple program that will record how many ounces of water my friends drink, fill up a meter shaped like a cup until they hit a certain number of ounces. There are a few more things I will be doing for that project, which I will elaborate on in a separate post. Here’s to learning new things!

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Getting 2015 Right

Let’s face it, we all know New Year’s Resolutions don’t really work.

I don’t really believe in New Year’s Resolutions, so I began my changes in December of this year. I created three broad goals that I wanted to achieve by the end of 2015: Get Fit; Write/Read More; Enrich my industry related skills. Aside from those broad goals, I also have some general budgeting goals of saving up an emergency fund and then buffering my expenses by a month.

Here’s how I am trying to stick to my goals.

  1. Define my goals. – My first step was to actually write down what my goals were. I did this in Evernote, but you can do this with pen and paper or in your notepad. I not only wrote down what my goals were, but why they were important to me, what impact they may have on me and my life, and steps along the way that will help me achieve those goals. I used this blog post as a guide. You can view my goal card here: Get Fit, Write/Read More & Work-Related Skills.
  2. Create and stick to a budget. – I’ve generally been pretty good about not spending outside of my means, but I’m still ultimately living paycheck to paycheck and that is something I’d like to change. I have been using Mint for quite some time, but I’ve found I often lose track of purchases and don’t keep to the specific budgets I’ve set out for myself. Mint also has a tendency of miscategorizing my purchases or not categorizing them at all. I splurged on the software You Need A Budget. The software is a bit more labor intensive because you have to input each of your purchases manually, but so far, I’ve found this to actually be really helpful for not spending as much. You set up each category and you give yourself a budget of how much you can spend in each. If you overspend, it comes out of next month’s budget for that category. Having to input each of my purchases and expenses manually means I better understand how much I am spending. I didn’t buy a pizza last night because I didn’t want to put that ding into my spending cash so early in the month!
  3. Find tools that will help. – As mentioned in point 2, I purchased YNAB, which at $60, was a small but necessary ding to my wallet. I am also using ToDoist to keep all of the things I have to do in order. This helps with making sure I actually get stuff done for work and in my personal life. I like the gamification of gaining karma points for all the tasks I end up getting done. I have started doing the Couch-to-5K program and I am actually really enjoying jogging three times a week.
  4. Get an accountability buddy! – This is the one I didn’t really realize I needed until I got one. My friend Tina and I are doing the C25K jogging program together and we are texting each other with encouraging words and with updates of whether or not we made it out. I’ve been sick this week and missed our second jog this week, but she’s been great in keeping me motivated to feel better and get back on the horse. Finding someone who has similar goals as you do and is willing to talk about them and commiserate when you don’t hit the marks you’d like is great and keeps you motivated to actually keep going on even after slipping.

When trying to attain goals, simplicity is important.

Create simple, attainable goals that are meaningful to you. When those goals are meaningful to you, you are much more likely to commit to those goals. Keep yourself accountable, but remember, you’re not going to achieve anything without making a lot of mistakes along the way. The key is to not let those hiccups in your happiness because permanent behaviors.

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Amanda Drew a Thing for Me!

My friend Amanda is currently studying for her Masters at New York University’s campus in Spain. She sent me this message and image this morning/afternoon:

“I was sitting in Guell Park and made you this shitty postcard, but then The Man wouldn´t let me send it in the mail. Probs because it is on the back of a worn-out map. Nonetheless. I call it Matsie and Potato Come to Visit.”

Drawing of Me on the Beach - MatsieFTW!

Thanks, Amanda! This will never stop be amazing.

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