Doing new things is hard, choose your hard

In my last post I touched on the topic of quitting, and how easy it is to take the easy path instead of the hard one and quit. Most of us quit all the time, big and small things alike. When things get a little tough, it’s really easy to drop back to a place where you feel comfortable. And while we often quit, we rarely understand the consequences of that act before it’s too late.

When was the last time that you were assigned with something you’ve never done before and it seemed easy and straightforward? If I had to guess, the answer is never. New things are hard to us for a reason, we didn’t create any patterns around the process yet. Even if it’s something that you’ve enjoyed doing in the past, it takes you time to get accustomed to it in a different environment.

Maybe this is a filter of some kind, because people who persist in their efforts are the ones you hear or read about. We all have our struggles in life, the only thing that differs is will you give up or continue fighting, will you take the easy road, or the hard road. Just bear in mind that the easy road can and probably will be harder for you in the long run.

People have different learning patterns, and different backgrounds. While new associations in our mind are easy to create, it sometimes takes time to link everything together, or to figure it out. That process is hard. If you ever tried to learn a foreign language you’ve encountered it, along another issue, you need to use the language to learn it.

The best way that I’ve experienced is using what you’ve learned from day one, it will be hard for a while, but much easier in the long run. Yes, you will go full Tarzan mode with constructs that translate to “I want go food” or something similarly funny.
The trick is not to be afraid or ashamed while you are learning something new, otherwise it wouldn’t be hard for you to do it. If you are surrounded with the right kind of people, they will encourage you and help you, even dedicate significant amounts of time into helping you, because that is something they also care about.

Same thing goes with learning new computer languages, or programming paradigms. Yes it’s hard to learn Object-Oriented programming, it is also hard to learn Functional programming. While I’m on the subject, it’s pretty hard to learn testing, and that is just the high level stuff. Everyone one of us has been an apprentice at one point or another.

Sometimes I am still an apprentice in some new technology that I’m interested in. You will always have new stuff to learn, it will (probably) be hard, maybe you even won’t succeed, but are you willing to immediately give up the benefits you could reap for your whole lifetime just because you need to suffer for a day, or a week? I’m not, when something gets too easy for me, I just have to find something new that will push me even harder in the direction I’m moving to. It’s pretty easy to figure out that most of the things that you appreciate in your life are hard. Raising children is hard, running a business is hard, competing in sports is hard, sometimes even breathing seems hard. Do you really want to spend your whole life as a couch potato, watching TV and not achieving what you might if you just put in some effort?

I’ll end this with a nice quote from a three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond: “It never gets easier, you just go faster.”

Domain switch

If you are a somewhat regular reader, you have probably noticed that I’ve changed the domain name from babinho.net to berislavbabic.com. Maybe you didn’t notice it at all, kudos for that, because you have been redirected automatically. There were a few reasons for my decision, and I’ll try to sum it here. I won’t go much into details of how to do it, because you already have a lot of information on the Internet covering it. First to explain the babinho moniker. I’ve been using it for a lot of time now. It’s a nickname that dates back to the year 2000, and stems from the obsession with Brazilian football players way back then, when we all had similar nicknames. And mine just stuck around. I wanted to retire it for a long time already, but the more you are invested in something, the harder is it to move away from it. I decided to follow the advice given primarily by John Sonmez in his blogging course, but it is also suggested in many other places, and used by a lot of people I’m following and consider to be internet famous, at least in the small niche that I’m following, e.g. Nathan Barry. As this is a personal technical blog, I decided to go with my name and not some SEO optimised domain name. I believe that personal branding is the corner-stone for each developer, and something everyone, in the tech world or not, should work on as much as possible. There is no better way for you to stand behind your work by stating your name loud and clear. It is professional to the core, and gains you more respect than some childish moniker. It is the scariest thing you can do, because if you make a blunder people will know. But don’t obsess with it, because people rarely or even never remember other people’s blunders. And they will appreciate you more for trying and failing, than for not trying at all. I know that I stood behind that moniker for a really long time, and it has defined my work and sometimes my hobbies. I was not ashamed of my real name, but I just decided not to stand behind it. Going by a nickname was cool and hip, and somewhat unprofessional. Although I’m not saying you shouldn’t use some kind of an alias, especially if you are not allowed/afraid to write because of some repercussions (please do yourself a favour and change the job or the place you live as soon as possible), I am saying that you should use your own name when you engage in technical writing. If you are considering to write or are already writing about really controversial and dangerous stuff, then do everything needed to protect your identity, and be as anonymous as possible. I won’t go into details on how to do that, but there are many privacy oriented websites, so you just have to look around.