Back in October I was really frustrated. I had just completed my Masters degree in Computer Science and started a new job which, as opposed to my Masters, involved little to no programming at all. It was technical and I was learning loads of stuff, but I slowly felt my ability to program fading away.
Having been more active on Twitter last summer, I came across the #100DaysOfCode challenge, created by Alexander Kallaway. It was a simple challenge, and this made it so successful: code at least for an hour every day and keep a log / tweet about it to hold yourself accountable.
Fast forward to today, and I have completed the #100DaysOfCode challenge, the freeCodeCamp Front End Certification, and I’m already half-way into my second #100DaysOfCode. How did I do it? The key to all that was small and chunked measurable goals, and consistency.
Deciding on a reasonable daily goal
Having a full-time job and volunteering for many other activities like teaching at CodeFirst: Girls meant that I couldn’t commit to 1 – 2 hours each night. At the end of a long work day (and often after spending another two hours doing something else like volunteering or exercising), I was exhausted and wanted to rest and recharge for the next work day. After all, sleep is important and we all need to sleep in order to perform at our best.
Taking all this into account, I set aside just 30 min as my daily goal for the first round of the challenge. Why this magic number, you may ask? Half an hour can easily be freed up during your lunch break. It can be the amount of time you spend listening to a technical podcast when you’re on the move. Or if you are unable to code from home, you can spend 30 min learning on an app.
Even on my busiest days, 30 minutes was achievable. Setting yourself goals that are ambitious yet actually achievable is key to maintaining the 100 day streak and not giving up on the goals you’ve set for yourself.
#100DaysOfCode is YOUR personal challenge
I’ve seen so many people setting themselves overly ambitious goals only to realize that life might get in the way. Some people are also incredibly strict on themselves and declare the challenge a failure if they miss a day after coding for 70 days straight.
In my opinion, bending the rules a bit to fit your lifestyle is not only important but necessary to make it through the challenge and keep up your positive outlook. Life happens, you might get the flu, have personal circumstances prohibiting you from programming for 2 – 3 days, or simply forget a day. It’s okay, as long as you get right back on track.
Sometimes people beat themselves up over not doing enough and feeling disheartened, and I felt this so many times myself. But, don’t forget that the #100DaysOfCode is your personal challenge. You decide the rules, the environment, constraints, and rewards for yourself. Don’t get distracted by other people who seemingly learn faster, learn more, or build seemingly better projects. Everyone’s journey is different, and each and every one of us have our own battles to fight in the background.
My personal goal was to complete my freeCodeCamp Front End Certification by the end of my first round, which was a little too ambitious. I didn’t make it, but I came so close that I still considered the challenge an amazing success.
I built seven projects during that time and built up my personal portfolio. I networked with like-minded people and increased my code quality and learned a great deal through podcasts, books, and Medium articles — all with just 30 min a day.
Keep going – even if it’s hard
Some days you’ll feel invincible and hours will pass in an instant. Some days just motivating yourself to learn for 30 min can feel like an absolute chore. This is okay and normal. Setting yourself achievable goals will mean that even on those days, you feel like you’ve reached your target.
For example, you might have had a bad day at work or are generally not feeling well, but you’ll still reach your goal for that day. Small chunks of success, every single day are achievable. And if you manage to do more than those 30 min a day, that’s amazing — you’re on fire.
I was intending to pause after completing my first round of #100DaysOfCode and rest, and I was prepared to feel exhausted. Surprisingly, none of these feelings arrived, and instead I wondered what to build next or what to learn from now on.
I’ve became so used to programming each day, used to learning every day, that I have a burning desire to keep going.
That’s why I started my second round almost two days after the first round, and I haven’t looked back since. Comparing what I’ve learned and built in the last 150 days since when I started back in October has been a great exercise and has shown me that all those tiny steps I’ve taken each day have taken me where I ultimately wanted to be. Persistence is the key to learning and mastering anything, and you gain a feeling of accomplishment if you consistently persist.
Share your success
Tweeting your progress is also a big part of the challenge and possibly the only reason why I kept going at times. At the beginning, tweeting my progress felt a little odd for me. But in the end, I started to celebrate my tiny little milestones each day.
I didn’t keep a log on GitHub either, and instead used Twitter as my personal log to review what I had learned. The most amazing thing is the constant feedback and cheering you get from the #100DaysOfCode community. I have found so many lovely and talented people through joining the challenge whom I draw most of my inspiration from. I try to encourage people and leave hearts on plenty of updates every day, because I know how much they meant to me. Especially on days where you feel small and insignificant, some positivity from the community can go a long way.
We all learn better together and can learn so much from each other through sharing knowledge, success, and positivity. #100DaysOfCode is no different. Join the thousands of learners every day and be motivated to reach for your personal goals. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
How I completed the #100DaysOfCode challenge by coding 30 minutes a day was originally published in freeCodeCamp on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.