Back when I was in high school, I had some grand ideas. One of them was to build a system for installing software on offline Linux computers called Keryx. It was ridiculously ambitious and looking back I probably never would have started it if I knew how much work it would be.

My goal was to use Keryx to teach myself to become a real programmer. As a high school kid, I looked up to the college students building software for Ubuntu Linux and that’s exactly what I wanted to be.

Every evening I would get home from school and spend hours on end building this system. Absolutely everything I was doing was new to me. I knew nothing about Linux, Python, GTK, or even building software. It took me 4 years to build a decent version of Keryx but I finished it.

In the end, I probably learned more about the self-improvement process than about building software.

The project was a huge struggle because there was so much I didn’t know and the thing that kept me going was my naivety.

Every time I hit a problem, I reframed my goals. If I spent 8 hours trying to solve an error it didn’t mean I’m stupid, it just meant I’m not looking in the right place. The answer might be a new approach or fixing a typo.

Most of the time when I watch other people work, I see them google the problem, get frustrated when solutions don’t work and ultimately give up. With me, the difference was that I approached solutions with the mindset of learning. I wanted to know why this was a solution and how it worked.

Learning is a mindset you need to stick with because frustration comes quicker the older you are. You look around and people know things you don’t and it’s embarrassing to admit you’re behind.

Kids are always in the mindset of learning, but that changes as you get older because you don’t have as much formal education. Life changes and you get a job doing similar things over and over again. It’s even culturally acceptable to continue doing the same thing for 40 years without learning new things.

The struggle is when you want to make a change in your life; it’s easy to give up. When you take on something new, keep in mind that you’re putting yourself in a learning environment.

Remember that why is often more important than what.

Why you want to learn Ruby is more important than what you want to learn about Ruby. Why you want to lose weight, will always drive you further than what weight you want to lose.

So as we approach the end of February, I want you to think about your new year’s resolutions and your goals in life. Are you still chugging along? Are you frustrated with your progress?

Maybe all you need is a nudge in the right direction.

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