Path to Technical Mastery – Part 3 – Consistency

I wrote about the way I train my patience and use it in turn to practice discipline in my personal and professional life.

Once discipline sets in, all that is needed is that the good practices are repeated (almost) indefinitely. I say almost because it’s normal that certain work/ study patterns or habits evolve in time.

Nevertheless, with discipline I can build consistency in what I do. Consistency allows me to evolve with small but certain increments. I move with little risk and with high certainty towards my goals.

What’s the end goal?

The whole point of building this consistency is to give myself a sure path to reach my goal by building up to it in small but steady increments.

Current goal: I want to fill in all the gaps which I have in my full stack developer profile.

Throughout the years I learned many of the skills I needed to be a professional and functional full stack developer. I kept up with the updates on everything I was using day to day, however, there were always things that I postponed for “later when I have time”. I kept count of them and the list is big.

Here’s a sample of what I’m missing:

  • In-depth CI/CD
  • Kubernetes and Docker
  • Advanced React topics
  • Advanced Microservice architecture

The bright side is that the list of the things I have already learned is probably just as big. Here is a sample of things I have good control of:

  • PHP programming
  • PHP CMSs: WordPress and Drupal
  • the LAMP stack
  • Javascript programming
  • the MEAN stack
  • React
  • Node JS
  • Databases (MySQL, Monogo)
  • APIs, building and using
  • CSS and a few strong CSS frameworks (Bootstrap, Material etc)

To achieve a mastery of the topics I wish to follow, I simply need to keep working on learning and practicing them every day. Typically, in software development, there’s learning on the job almost daily but it’s simply not enough anymore. Because my goal is to learn broader topics, extra effort needs to be done outside of the working hours.

This is why I included in my daily habits to learn every day. The key now is to make it consistently, and as I progress each day, my items on the list get checked. Sure, new items are added sometimes, but at least I am going through them all at a constant pace. Without the consistency, I would not be able to finish them and I would be overwhelmed by the path that lays ahead.

The challenges of keeping daily habits consistently

It’s no easy task to keep a consistent routine because life tends to get in the way. Sometimes we need to travel and be on the road, have a vacation or take care of an important event, or just simply be sick and need to rest.
Once the routine breaks, it may be hard to return to it with the same intensity as before.

My partial Solution is to implement a minimum required per day of each activity. Even if I am very busy one day, I still find 15 minutes to learn something about one of the topics on my list, or read for 5 minutes or exercise for 10 minutes. So, by setting my daily time allocated for each habit to a low value, I can still keep the consistency.

Most of the days I can fit in 30 minutes of exercises, 75-90 minutes of learning, 20-30 of reading and so on. But in case I am in one of the days when I have little availability for my habits, I can still keep my consistency in habits by reducing the time allocated to each. The important part is not to break the chain.

Rinse and Repeat

That’s all I need to do from this point on.

So far I have done all the things that will enable me to reach my goal:

  • I built up the patience to withstand the huge task ahead. This will take long and I’m ok with that because I learned to be patient.
  • Developed the self disciplined necessary to keep up with the routine I imposed on myself. I am committed to work on this goal every single day.
  • I enabled the consistency that will get me to my goal. I just need to get closer to my goal with small increments day by day.

Will the goal ever be reached?

Yes, No and Probably not. And not because I won’t learn everything I want, but simply because progress makes me always discover new goals. My goals of today will be reached within the next couple of years given my plan and sustained efforts. As goals get crossed out from my list they are replaced by new ones and that’s completely natural.

I am very excited to be on the current path, and just as excited to extend it and walk on it for many years to come.

I hope you enjoyed this series of articles where I tried to describe my motivation, my plans and the journey for knowledge I set up for myself , years after my formal education has finished. This practice is common between software developers and each has their own methods. These are mine, and I do not claim they are not universally valid. If you want to do something similar, remember that each person needs to find their own way, and there’s nothing wrong with borrowing good practice and advice from others.

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