Are you smart enough to learn how to code? If this question has been keeping you up at night or preventing you from getting into tech, this post is for you.
The quick answer is yes, you are smart enough. What you’re lacking is experience, and that lack of experience leads to a lack of confidence. If you’d like to build your confidence in your coding skills, you have to practice. I have created a free set of exercises that you can do on a day-to-day basis to build your confidence.
You are smart enough to follow your dreams. You just need to do a few things to make you more confident. Here are my simple steps to accomplishing your goals.
1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
A lot of times when we doubt our own abilities and ask ourselves questions like “am I smart enough to do X” or “am I good enough?”, we’re comparing ourselves to others. First, it’s important to remember that we all have different privilege that helps or hinders us in following our dreams. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, he demonstrates how a lot of the times the people who seem outstanding were just lucky. They were in the right circumstances to practice their skills early in life. Try to remember that other people are on completely different journeys from you. They have different experiences, skillsets, interests, talents, wants, and needs. Just remember that you are uniquely talented, skilled, and wonderful. You bring a unique perspective to the table and tech will absolutely benefit from you joining the industry.
2. Practice, practice, practice.
The more skilled you are, the more you’ll stand out in the tech industry. Bill Gates got lucky because he had unique access to a computer when he was a teenager. He practiced hours and hours every day. Gladwell also talks about the 10,000 hour rule, which basically means that if you’ve practiced something for 10,000 hours, you are proficient in that skill. Gates had all those thousands of hours in his pocket before he started Microsoft. So that’s why he really stood out— he had all of that practice thanks to his unique privilege in accessing a computer. This kind of thing happens in every industry. So if you have less privilege, you unfortunately have to work even harder to compete.
3. Understand your learning style
Other people also might differ from you in the learning style. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to learning, especially with something as abstract as programming. For example, I have a visual and learn by doing learning style. That means that I might have to learn something a different way from my peers, but that’s OK.
So explore different types of resources, don’t just stick within your usual learning materials. There are so many different ways in which we can learn the same concept. And don’t beat yourself up for not understanding something the first time you try to learn a skill. You just have to find a different way to learn it. Remember that your goal is to learn the skill, not to learn the fastest or the same way as others. And every time you realize that one learning style doesn’t work for you as well, you’re one step closer to finding a style that does.
4. Never stop learning
Learning to code is hard work. Even when you feel comfortable with your knowledge, you’ll have to keep learning about new technology. There are always new frameworks, technologies, and languages that you can learn to grow your career and stay relevant. So, get ready for a constant challenge, but also constant growth and learning. When you’re a programmer, you’re always learning something new or tackling new problems. If you start feeling lost or like a complete beginner, just remember you’re not alone. We’re all going through trial and error to try to master our skills. So get used to that beginner’s mindset— and remember that it helps you to always have a fresh perspective that others might not have. And without new problems to challenge us, we would have no progress.
5. Adopt a growth mindset.
A growth mindset means you believe that your abilities and skills are not fixed. You believe that investing time and effort will expand what you can do. You cheer others on for their own growth, too. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset— that your skills and abilities are fixed and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Sometimes a fixed mindset means that you feel threatened (maybe subconsciously) by the success of others. It means that if someone else is successful, you can’t be. So try to find the areas in life that you have a fixed mindset.
Let’s look at programming from both a growth and fixed mindset. From a fixed mindset, we avoid learning new programming languages at all costs, because you know that you either are talented or not. Period. So there’s no reason to take on challenges, because you already “know” that you’re not worthy.
But if we look at learning new programming languages from a growth mindset, we see obstacles as exciting challenges. They are opportunities to grow. So aspire to be a better you every day. And remember that you can change your mindset to growth oriented. If you’re looking to learn more about that, check out Mindset by Carol Dweck. She outlines how you have to understand what triggers your fixed mindset is so that you can change it. Notice your patterns so you can minimize their impact on you. Remind yourself that you’re on a growth journey, and try these affirmations. Like this, little by little, you will change your mindset.
So, if you’re wondering if you’re smart enough to learn how to code or do anything, remember these tips. Don’t compare yourself to others, practice often, explore learning styles and always keep learning. And adopt a growth mindset, because it is a life changing. Seriously. It is life changing, especially if self-doubt is eating your way from within. Let me know in the comments how you learn best! Share this post with anyone who is learning to code or any other skill, and might be prone to self-doubt. Don’t forget to remind them how unique and amazing they are! Find me on social media as Coding Blonde. Have a wonderful time of the day you’re currently experiencing!