Feeding the learning desire

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, August 23, 2016, 7:47 PM | comments: 0

I've had a lot of conversations with people in the software profession about the need and desire to learn new stuff. The need is there because stuff changes, and if you want to keep at it, you need to learn. It's also, for many people (I would argue the people you want to work with), a strong desire as well. I don't know where that comes from exactly, but I imagine anyone driven by curiosity wants to learn new things.

I've struggled with this for the last year or so. My job varies quite a bit, in that I've had projects where I've been very hands-on and in the weeds writing code, while also running a project and filling roles around compliance, architecture and more administrative stuff. Other times, I'm coaching on process or consulting around some specific client need. Right now, I'm running a project in a tech stack that I don't know deeply, but know enough to be reviewing code and design. All of this variation results in varying levels of desire to learn. As this mostly goes on after work, on my own time, the ability to dive in is not consistent. When I'm in the weeds, my capacity for learning is low, I imagine because I'm not in a hurry to write experimental code when I've already been doing it for much of the day. When I'm on projects that are more in process and consulting, the mental bandwidth and desire to learn is much higher.

In the last year, there have been a number of different projects and prototypes that I've wanted to dive into, using a number of frameworks and tools that I'm not deep into today, but I've not had enough time and energy to really go all-in for any sustained time. I struggle with that, because it might be to some degree career-stage appropriate, but many of the peers that I've known who don't know the new stuff seem kind of dinosaur-ish. I don't want to be that guy.

It's possible, maybe likely, that if I continue down my current path that hands-on work will be less and less a part of my job. Still, I never want to stop learning. I'll keep up on my open source project and stay involved in the community.


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