Find your next challenge after completing your goal

Finding your next goal thumbnail

When I started my year I knew what I was up against.

I had a taste of the competition that lay ahead and I could see my vision of accomplishment of getting there and surpassing the people who were ahead of me.

There is a guy who started his business from a young age, building applications for small business and organizations.

He is doing very well for himself, having employed a couple of people already.

I want to be in a similar position that he is in.

I know what it takes and the hard work I would have to put in.

The purpose of this article is to help you find your next challenge and a goal to complete after you have accomplished something.


The motivation

I had to start somewhere. I started studying very hard and learning all I could about Java and how it worked.

I also started writing on my blog, every week I would have to publish an article on something.

For the 3 months after I made that decision, I never missed a deadline.

I developed systems and routines in place that would help me coordinate my time and help me manage my tasks.

I will make it! I have the plan and now all I have to do is put in the work.

Weekdays it was full days of study. I didn’t care how tired I was, I needed to understand a certain topic and it had to be done.

I learned how to learn the hard way. I pushed through a lot and retained very little.

I slowly made progress and I did that for about two months.

I worked flat-out during the week and weekend which was when I read up on databases and how they worked, reading all I could about Java and including time to read up on how JavaScript had advanced so much and playing with React.js and Node.js

I was relentless, like an animal.

Even though learning in this style in not the most effective, it did feed my interests… There after I would forget a majority of the stuff I had learned.

That slowly died down as I figured out easier ways to learn and retain most of the information I was consolidating.

It was no longer a single-dimension style of learning.

I realized there are multiple ways to learn and that you should combine them in a sequential systematic way.

Form a routine with these steps and the learning process was easy.

I felt like I had broken past my first wall and defeated first boss.

Knowing I still had the entire game to complete, this level seemed nice and easy to frolic around in.

I still had to work but the work felt easy as well.

I was no longer facing the challenge. I put in the work and I finally defeated the big boss at the end of the level…


The problem

The problem

The problem I was facing now was that I felt like I lost most of my drive to work and push myself to the level of 9 or above. This meant giving it my all or nothing.

I have the larger vision of accomplishing what I wanted and I knew I will eventually get there in the next 2 to 3 years or less if I worked at it.

That’s my goal.

The problem was that I felt like I wasn’t pushing and working as hard as I wanted to.

I didn’t feel as hungry as I was because I wasn’t being challenged like I was.

On the weekends I used to wake up at 7am or earlier so I could start my day.

Sometimes I wanted to go for a swim and cycle, so I would wake up even earlier at around 5:30am.

I didn’t know why I was doing this and that was a problem on its own.

I just wanted more and more of those little accomplishments because they made me feel good.

I don’t do that anymore. I thought I’d rather wake up at 7:30 and sleep in for half an hour or so.

I will partially enjoy it and partially hate it. I like the idea of sleeping in but I always had the thought on top of my head…

I am wasting my time!

Imagine what else I could squeeze out my day with that half an hour.


The transition

Transitioning from this state of wandering around and not really knowing what you do to becoming the most driven and determined person ever is plain difficult.

I had that state of full motivation and drive until I reached a certain goal and then what do you do afterwards.

Yeah sure, you can set a big goal for yourself and have the vision of where you want to be but without smaller goals that’s going to be extremely difficult.

The secret I discovered was that you need to have that next phase that you can transition into and take off from there because once you get to your end goal, where do you go from there? What’s your purpose again?


How to overcome it

The problem I faced is that I was no longer challenged. I realized this quite recently that I was missing on the challenge that I once had.

Most times when you want something you will work really hard and take action to do it, but when you do achieve it… What do you do next?

I had overcome it and now I was wondering around not knowing where to go or what to do.

That’s why I felt so unmotivated and feeling like I had lost my drive to push myself to 9 or above.

The important thing to do is to know what exactly to do next once you achieve something.

My first goal was to learn the Spring Framework well enough to build applications.

Yeah, I’m not an expert with the Spring framework and I still have a lot way to go, but I reached my goal of being able to use it and build applications.

The majority of the stuff I still need to learn will be learned by building applications and in-depth understanding will come with time and experience. So I consider that an achievement.

I didn’t know how Java EE worked or the Spring framework many months ago, but now I do and it’s time to move on.


Reenvision yourself

Now that I know how to do a majority of the back-end stuff using Java and the Spring framework it was time to move on to something else.

I could visualize myself as a font-end engineer. This is someone who builds web apps using JS frameworks so the client can interact with a backend service. That service is build with Java using Spring.

I can see myself being competent using the Angular 4 framework and building very functional Single Page Applications.

Angular 4 is very popular to use if you’re coming from .NET or Java backgrounds and it has an easier learning curve because it’s a complete Model-View-Controller framework with Dependency Injection and the works, much like the Spring Framework. So it’s easy to relate too.

Unlike the Angular framework other libraries such as View.js and React.js only offer the View component and you miss out on nifty features like Dependency Injection.

But features like routing is accomplished by separate modules such as React-router which is a separate Routing library for React.js

I knew learning Angular wouldn’t be that much of a challenge for me but still something I wanted to learn. I had only played with React.js which is a JavaScript library covering the View aspect when Angular has more of that baked in already. So I already understood most concepts and principles behind the two.

I needed to learn the basics of TypeScript and an introduction to Angular to try to build something using the Spring REST endpoint that I created.

I also wanted to learn how to properly style my apps with CSS3 so I had to learn that too.

Why not throw in Bootstrap because it makes your life easier.

This is my next goal, what ever it takes I will accomplish it.

I feel motivated already knowing that I have had set my goals out and defined my vision.

Plugging the Angular and Spring Web applications together would also be on my checklist, but as generally one of two teams work on the front-end and another team on the back-end.

So it would be better if I separated the two from each other.

By doing this I will push it to the next level and because this is what I strive for and I know it will get done!


This too shall pass

Reenvisioning yourself and defining new goals is by far the best way to motivate yourself.

I want to do X because I need to do X and I have the ability to do it.

I remember telling myself this too shall pass knowing that I would eventually overcome it if I trusted the process and did what I had to do.

This is true because I am telling my plan now.

It wasn’t by complete faith that I was to sit back and just wait for it to solve itself, but if I kept on trying to figure it out it would eventually work.

I felt unmotivated and wondered like this for 2 weeks trying to figure out why and what I should do.


The are seasons in your life

Yes there are seasons in your life where you can reach your peak and really push all you have because you have the mindset and are in the right situation.

Other times you may work at a lower and slower steady pace but still make good process.

This is fine and a majority of seasoned developers do this.

This could be spending the next 3 months learning about new technologies and going full out on that.

Then spend the next 3 months is just working and practicing what you have learned to get the full understanding.

But if you want to keep pushing yourself in fifth gear it’s important to find something you can quickly jump into and to maintain the level of drive that you have.

Once completing your goal on something, move onto the next.

Take Arnold Schwarzenegger for example. He strived to be the most muscular man alive…

Arnold Flexing

When he completed his goal he didn’t wonder around just focusing on that, no… He went into action movies and sitcoms. After that he just wanted more, he took on getting America into fitness, and so one.

He didn’t stop at one thing and you shouldn’t either.

Once you understand one thing move on to another. After that move on again.

This too builds a bigger picture by enhancing your skills in small relatable areas you can collectively combine them to have a greater skill level because of these different aspects in a certain field.


The transition

The transition may seem difficult the first or second times, but it doesn’t have to be.

I know how uncomfortable I felt when I moved on from reading just a book to using other resources too as my learning strategy matured but I didn’t know where I was going, that’s why it was so scary.

The slow and steady growth does not appeal to me. I would prefer to be running in fifth gear all the time to get where I want to be.

Yes you’ll have your ups and downs as you go along, there may be a pothole and you need to slow down and change a wheel but you have to get back at top speed as quickly as possible.

Transitioning for one movement to another doesn’t have to be difficult. All you have to do is plan for it.

Initially I spend months trying to pick up the pieces and form a picture of how I wanted to learn.

I would read a book from chapter to chapter, all the time I spent three months of grinding and I retained very little. That would be one piece that I picked up.

If I wanted to learn something, I would first define my success and set a curriculum I would follow to complete it.

So at the end of a week or the end of three weeks (if it was a larger goal) I could check my curriculum, having all the sections marked off and I would test myself against my defined success.

Can I now produce something with what I had learned.

The producing and consuming rules

Always try to produce more than you consume.

Producing with blogging

The reason why people become lazy is they are bound to consumption.

“I just want to watch a movie!”

Physiologically you’re locked into that movie until it’s finished and you wouldn’t question stopping it to do something else instead, would you?

I know this because when I am watching a movie and 20 minutes into it I know it’s not that good, I can make two decisions.

  1. Switch off the movie and do something else.
  2. Continue watching because it’s the easier option. It’s mindless and requires 0 effort, so why not?

I have to be honest, most times I choose option 2.

Consumption makes you feel tired, lazy and ill.

I know that reading a book or reading a post on your favorite programming blog can be addictive, as I have done this too many times.

But if you learn to produce and put out our efforts out there you’ll be shocked by how much energy you have.

Take me on for writing this blog post.

For me it’s therapy where I can organize my thoughts, ideas and share what I am learning. Hence my blog’s name is Scholar Coder which intern means “Learning programming”.

As I started my idea of this blog post was very scrambled and unfiltered, of course this is natural. But the more I wrote eventually my thoughts and ideas organized themselves and that’s how this blog post came to be.

Well it’s not exactly, I actually have a routine for generating ideas and forming a blog post, but after that writing is where all the magic happens.

This goes back to the drive and motivation, yeah sure if you learn something new you need to read some documentation or watch videos introducing the subject. This form is known as consuming.

To truly understand what you have learned you need to take it int practice.

To produce is to build something from yourself around that new knowledge. This is producing.

Plus when you are finished building that thing you can enjoy the of accomplishment you have earned.

Adrian van den Houten

I'm Adrian van Houten, founder of ScholarCoder and a passionate software developer for full-stack web development. Read more about me here.