How do I get motivated to practice programming?

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In summary: The purpose for the suggestion is to help someone else with an information task which is of use to them (the 'someone else').You just must put yourself outside of the home and deal with other people, and interact with and participate in a few things with them. Then with some exposure, you find some way that they or whoever, works with or uses information. Now, although this is still just generalized by how I am expressing it, CAN YOU MAKE A COMPUTER PROGRAM TO HELP?Yes, you can make a computer program to help.
  • #1
Eclair_de_XII
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I am asking this question because I am trying to learn skills that will make me more appealing in the job market. Ideally, the promise of stable work and what-not should be enough. But I find it difficult to maintain interest in learning how to code. I do not know if it is the scarcity of projects I would like to use my coding skills for, if it is simply the fact that other pursuits pique my interest more at the moment, or if it is because I realize that learning how to code, but not how to code in a professional work environment would not help my marketability at all.

I have some knowledge of bash, TeX, and Python, and I have written a few scripts, but they amount to little more than arts and crafts projects. Is it even worth learning to code in my free time, if I will not gain credible experience by doing so?
 
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  • #2
Scarcity of Projects can be an important problem. A better bet is to enroll into a class to learn beginning computer programming. That way, at least you follow a systemized course of lessons and instruction and practice and study; and do program-writing exercises. This also ideally would have a laboratory component.

Two very broad situations can inspire you to write some programming code, being by implication, something of a specific task or set of tasks which you or someone else want done with information.

  • You are a student in school and you have some repetitive task to do; or being a student in school, maybe you have some routine records you wish to make.
  • You are in an employment situation and you have some routine or repetitive task, and you want an automated way of handling some information.
 
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  • #3
Eclair_de_XII said:
Is it even worth learning to code in my free time, if I will not gain credible experience by doing so?
That part is also interesting. Could you create or design a simple but helpful program for someone else or for some group, who ultimately speak favorably about your product?
 
  • #4
Sounds to me like you don't really want to be in the programming field and should look for something that you are more interested in.
 
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  • #5
symbolipoint said:
You are in an employment situation and you have some routine or repetitive task, and you want an automated way of handling some information.
It is hardly the same thing, but sometimes, I write bash-scripts on my Linux system to help me automate layman's tasks.

symbolipoint said:
Could you create or design a simple but helpful program for someone else or for some group, who ultimately speak favorably about your product?
I have designed some programs. I can say that they have been helpful to me. But as for whether or not they can be considered helpful to others, I cannot say.
 
  • #6
symbolipoint wonders and asks:
Could you create or design a simple but helpful program for someone else or for some group, who ultimately speak favorably about your product?

Eclair_do_XII responds:
I have designed some programs. I can say that they have been helpful to me. But as for whether or not they can be considered helpful to others, I cannot say.

The purpose for the suggestion is to help someone else with an information task which is of use to them (the 'someone else').

You just must put yourself outside of the home and deal with other people, and interact with and participate in a few things with them. Then with some exposure, you find some way that they or whoever, works with or uses information. Now, although this is still just generalized by how I am expressing it, CAN YOU MAKE A COMPUTER PROGRAM TO HELP?
 
  • #7
If I cannot answer this question, then would that imply that amateur coding is, in fact, not the best use of my time?
 
  • #8
Eclair_de_XII said:
If I cannot answer this question, then would that imply that amateur coding is, in fact, not the best use of my time?
NO. Not at all. Absolutely not!

If you can find good guidance or good instruction in written form and if you are able to use the tools fitting the instruction you find, then you can learn and develop some useful program code writing skills.
 
  • #9
There's a few reasons I got into programming. I usually come up with my own small projects. When I talk to friends who also like programming a lot it seems like we all have a kind of common theme of small achievable projects. I don't think it's a bad idea to do a big project and have big ideas, but it's got to be really organized and if you mess up then it's easy to burn out, or at least that's how I would feel.

First I wanted to something one day like make a game. I took some coursework at a community college then later at the university in C++ and C, and after that I got the hang of it. A lot of this stuff in the coursework... I'm not sure how to describe it... I was just into it. Like sure the first few things like a calculator or point of sale kind of thing can be a little bit boring, but then some assignments were really fun to me like some type of Morse code decoding one, and a (text based) game of Battleship.

I took a class covering Verilog and that was another interesting one. Had to do a Fibonnaci counter in Verilog, then RLE compression, and a SHA-1. These were all pretty interesting to me and I thought the way of thinking for Verilog was very challenging after learning C because I didn't think of things in terms of timing and hardware, and I was extremely obsessed with getting things done in less clock-cycles and faster clocking speeds.

I had started a Java class. After a few assignments I was not doing well in it and I was really needing a lot more time in my required courses... so I dropped it. I always wanted to learn Java because in that class they were using Objectdraw, and my C and C++ class there was like no GUI or anything with pictures... all text based. I decided to try to run through the course on my own whatever slides I could find, and then I wanted to use that knowledge to try to make a few of my own things like a game.

I wanted a fancy hello world. Check!


I was thinking of kind of a wall bounce game I remember playing one when I was little, and so I started of with this.


Then I wanted something like... exploring a world... I thought maybe a spaceship one was kind of reasonable. :)


I also come up with a lot of little ideas try to come up with my own things or challenges. For example I wanted to do an if statement... without the if statement! I was trying to show someone how a multiplexer MUX works and was explaining that it was like an if statement with hardware, and then I was thinking hmmm maybe I could do this with code. I have a better way to do it now, but I thought of something like that. Another common one is coming up with an actual random number generator, which I kind of needed for one of my class assignments. I was trying to write some code to mimic sputtering some material onto a substrate using just regular old rand, and it wasn't random enough for my needs! Yikes!

My all time favourite place for coding as a hardware engineer: Work! When I was working on layout I was assigned some project that had an absurd number of pin. I don't think I'm allowed to say the (exact) number, but I'll say it was more than 10,000 pins. Heck no I wasn't going to do that. I wrote a program to do it for me.

The next thing I did is that in this new job I was using a different layout tool that I was still learning. My old layout tool had a lot of really useful features that wasn't in this new one (to me). I figured... if I can write something that routes so many pins, then I should be able to figure out how to create my own features. I did that too... lots of features! My productivity has been insane I can take on the same work as a whole group of people and finish it all in no time.

I switched teams and got into simulations. I was thinking hmm maybe my code won't be as useful anymore? Nope! I have lots of areas where the features I want just aren't available, and almost anything that requires a few repetitive clicks I'll code it instead. The simulation ones are my favourites I can do things that are just so amazing to me (just my personal opinion) it can be really difficult for me to step away from my computer and call it a day.

I think once you get started and find a few things you'll probably get sucked in like I did. If you don't, then maybe it's not your thing, and that's okay.
 
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  • #10
OP, you've been asking us advice for years,
You've been ignoring our advice for years,

You should seek a counselor - not tomorrow, today - to find out why that is. Otherwise, we will be having this same discussion tomorrow, or in a week, or in a month.
 
  • #11
OP: Typically I'm motivated to learn something new for one of two reasons: (1) innate interest (curiosity, passion, ...) or (2) sheer necessity [e.g., to succeed at an existing job or to acquire a new job (e.g., there is an industry-wide meltdown, your existing skills are no longer in demand, and you need to acquire new skills that are in demand)]. Right now, it appears that you do not have innate interest in programming, that you do not need programming to succeed at your current job, and that your current job is sufficiently secure such that there is no urgent need for you to retrain in programming.

So is there something else besides programming that you are innately interested in that would increase your chances of improving your employment options?

Otherwise, if you decide to continue your current path, a good approach is to work on concrete problems, rather than mere paper exercises. Many non-profit organizations are strapped for resources and could use help with software. Ask around for volunteer positions. You'll work on real-life problems; and, if you succeed, you'll garner references for your resume.
 
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  • #12
Vanadium 50 said:
OP, you've been asking us advice for years,
You've been ignoring our advice for years,

You should seek a counselor - not tomorrow, today - to find out why that is. Otherwise, we will be having this same discussion tomorrow, or in a week, or in a month.

Yes, understandable.And here is that (good) counseling:
CrysPhys said:
OP: Typically I'm motivated to learn something new for one of two reasons: (1) innate interest (curiosity, passion, ...) or (2) sheer necessity [e.g., to succeed at an existing job or to acquire a new job (e.g., there is an industry-wide meltdown, your existing skills are no longer in demand, and you need to acquire new skills that are in demand)]. Right now, it appears that you do not have innate interest in programming, that you do not need programming to succeed at your current job, and that your current job is sufficiently secure such that there is no urgent need for you to retrain in programming.

So is there something else besides programming that you are innately interested in that would increase your chances of improving your employment options?

Otherwise, if you decide to continue your current path, a good approach is to work on concrete problems, rather than mere paper exercises. Many non-profit organizations are strapped for resources and could use help with software. Ask around for volunteer positions. You'll work on real-life problems; and, if you succeed, you'll garner references for your resume.
 
  • #13
CrysPhys said:
Right now, it appears that you do not have innate interest in programming, that you do not need programming to succeed at your current job, and that your current job is sufficiently secure such that there is no urgent need for you to retrain in programming.
I'll be honest and say that I felt somewhat like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders after having read this bit.

CrysPhys said:
So is there something else besides programming that you are innately interested in that would increase your chances of improving your employment options?
But otherwise, no. I'm still soul-searching, albeit without much success. I'm starting to wonder if enjoying a line of work is even necessary in order to enter it; at the end of the day, all it is is a means of obtaining a flow of income in order to maintain living expenses.
 
  • #14
Eclair_de_XII said:
I'm starting to wonder if enjoying a line of work is even necessary in order to enter it; at the end of the day, all it is is a means of obtaining a flow of income in order to maintain living expenses.
That is an attitude that will lead you to a very sad life.
 
  • #15
Eclair_de_XII said:
I'll be honest and say that I felt somewhat like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders after having read this bit.But otherwise, no. I'm still soul-searching, albeit without much success. I'm starting to wonder if enjoying a line of work is even necessary in order to enter it; at the end of the day, all it is is a means of obtaining a flow of income in order to maintain living expenses.
You are trying to think in a practical way. You should improve at this, because doing so may lead you to more assured success --- in something. Yet learning to design simple software programs (deciding how to write programming code for what you want to be done) can be useful.

Something to watch-out for when you are job searching and interviewing: Some or so many company representatives will ask questions to find/figure out/determine if you REALLY want 'this' job or 'this' kind of job, or if this(whatever) is the work or profession that you MOST want; because otherwise, the representative would believe that you really want something else and that you are assumed not motivated enough to stay in the job nor in the company. YOU may want a job for monetary income, but company wants to hire a person who really wants the job because candidate really wants to do THAT JOB.
 
  • #16
Eclair_de_XII said:
I'm starting to wonder if enjoying a line of work is even necessary in order to enter it; at the end of the day, all it is is a means of obtaining a flow of income in order to maintain living expenses.
This is true; and there is nothing wrong with this approach ... as long as there is something else in your life that you do enjoy. You don't necessarily need to enjoy a particular job in order to succeed at it; you just need to be good at it. Unless you are independently wealthy, you will be spending a good chunk of your life working. Ideally, you should enjoy your job. You don't always have that luxury, however. Certainly, you shouldn't hate your job; that will gnaw away at you, physically, mentally, spiritually. But it's OK to be neutral about your job, to use it as a source of income to provide essentials for you and your family and to fund activities that do bring you joy.

Caveat: If your work is enjoyable in and of itself, it will help you cope with less than ideal work circumstances (bosses from hell, obnoxious co-workers, corporate disintegrations, industry-wide meltdowns ... I've dealt with them all). When I had my own lab, I could always retreat there to work out new designs and run experiments. Once I transitioned out of the lab, I no longer had that refuge and source of solace.
 
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  • #17
CrysPhys said:
This is true
It may be true for some people but it is a TERRIBLE goal
 
  • #18
phinds said:
It may be true for some people but it is a TERRIBLE goal
Several of my European colleagues had an adage, "Americans live to work; Europeans work to live." Given the diversity of Americans and Europeans, this is of course an overly broad generalization. But perhaps an iota of truth to it.

Perhaps a terrible goal, if we define a goal as an ideal outcome. As I wrote above, "Ideally, you should enjoy your job. You don't always have that luxury, however." But as a compromise to balance all the complex factors in life, it (being neutral about your job and treating your job primarily as a source of income, rather than as a source of joy) is certainly an acceptable, reasonable, and pragmatic outcome.

I spent 4 yrs getting my bachelor's and 7 yrs getting my PhD (all in physics). I landed a great job in what was then one of the world's top industrial R&D labs. That job lasted just over 8 yrs. Then I got caught up in a corporate downsizing and industry-wide meltdown. I was faced with two options: (a) continue with the type of work that I loved by moving to a different company thousands of miles away (even during an industry-wide meltdown, there will usually still be a few companies hiring, if you have the right expertise and experience) or (b) transition to an entirely different field within my present company (old areas were being killed off, new areas were growing).

I chose (b) because my family took priority over my job. Other colleagues chose (a). Some split up their families (one spouse moved out of state to work, while their family stayed behind; the out-of-state spouse would come home every weekend, or less frequently depending on distance). Others uprooted their spouses from their jobs and uprooted their kids from their schools. One colleague relocated to about 5 different states within about 10 yrs. That's a lot of toll on a family.

Over the years, I experienced further corporate disintegrations and industry-wide meltdowns. Each time, my number one goal was to keep my family intact, not to maintain joy in my career. I was multi-talented and flexible enough to switch to jobs that were in demand. I was good at my work and succeeded. Even if I didn't enjoy my job, I worked hard at it and learned as much as I could, developing new expertise that I could leverage in the future. But as I transitioned further away from what I truly loved (experimental physics), I enjoyed the work less ... to the point of being neutral about it. But, even then, my boss was happy because clients kept insisting on having me assigned to them and they were willing to pay a premium for me.
 
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  • #19
phinds said:
That is an attitude that will lead you to a very sad life.
Only if you let your job define your life (as many people I know do).
 
  • #20
CrysPhys said:
Only if you let your job define your life (as many people I know do).
You're missing the point. The POINT is to let your life define your job but to do that you have to find out what it is that you want your life to be.
 
  • #21
phinds said:
You're missing the point. The POINT is to let your life define your job but to do that you have to find out what it is that you want your life to be.
But that's not what you said above:

Eclair_de_XII said:
I'm starting to wonder if enjoying a line of work is even necessary in order to enter it; at the end of the day, all it is is a means of obtaining a flow of income in order to maintain living expenses.
phinds said:
That is an attitude that will lead you to a very sad life.
To me, that reads: "If you view a job as merely a source of income to support yourself (rather than as a source of joy in and of itself), you will end up with a very sad life." That I disagree with (as I explained in more detail in my Reply #18).
 
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  • #22
CrysPhys said:
To me, that reads: "If you view a job as merely a source of income to support yourself (rather than as a source of joy in and of itself), you will end up with a very sad life." That I disagree with (as I explained in more detail in my Reply #18).
Ah. Well, then, I expressed myself badly. I did not mean to imply that the job should be a source of joy since it is how you earn money to do what you really like to do, I mean that you should do your best to create a work situation where you are DOING what you like to do.

Take this as an example. Bob LOVES to travel, so he gets a decent paying job and saves up his money and travels as much as he can. He loves the travel but the job not so much. Ed, on the other hand, also love to travel so he gets a job with a travel agency, learns a lot about the details of traveling and then starts writing travel articles for magazines on the side. Eventually he is successful enough that can travel, with it being paid for by the articles. So he has worked his way into a life that pays him to do what he loves.

Which would you rather be?
 
  • #23
phinds said:
Ah. Well, then, I expressed myself badly. I did not mean to imply that the job should be a source of joy since it is how you earn money to do what you really like to do, I mean that you should do your best to create a work situation where you are DOING what you like to do.

Take this as an example. Bob LOVES to travel, so he gets a decent paying job and saves up his money and travels as much as he can. He loves the travel but the job not so much. Ed, on the other hand, also love to travel so he gets a job with a travel agency, learns a lot about the details of traveling and then starts writing travel articles for magazines on the side. Eventually he is successful enough that can travel, with it being paid for by the articles. So he has worked his way into a life that pays him to do what he loves.

Which would you rather be?
No disagreement here. I wrote previously:

CrysPhys said:
Ideally, you should enjoy your job.

Immediately qualified by:

CrysPhys said:
You don't always have that luxury, however.

And I gave you my personal example in Reply #18 of how I didn't have that luxury. So, yes, your simplified hypo is an ideal goal to aim for. But life is typically far more complex, involving compromise between a multitude of factors, involving the welfare of more than one person.
 
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  • #24
CrysPhys said:
But life is typically far more complex, involving compromise between a multitude of factors, involving the welfare of more than one person.
No argument there and yeah, the ideal is not always attainable, but it should be the goal.
 
  • #25
phinds said:
Ah. Well, then, I expressed myself badly. I did not mean to imply that the job should be a source of joy since it is how you earn money to do what you really like to do, I mean that you should do your best to create a work situation where you are DOING what you like to do.

Take this as an example. Bob LOVES to travel, so he gets a decent paying job and saves up his money and travels as much as he can. He loves the travel but the job not so much. Ed, on the other hand, also love to travel so he gets a job with a travel agency, learns a lot about the details of traveling and then starts writing travel articles for magazines on the side. Eventually he is successful enough that can travel, with it being paid for by the articles. So he has worked his way into a life that pays him to do what he loves.

Which would you rather be?
Very nice discussion(message) but to be practical, people must toil and earn income. Some people cannot search and prepare forever. They must find something for trade very soon.
 
  • #26
phinds said:
Take this as an example. Bob LOVES to travel, so he gets a decent paying job and saves up his money and travels as much as he can. He loves the travel but the job not so much. Ed, on the other hand, also love to travel so he gets a job with a travel agency, learns a lot about the details of traveling and then starts writing travel articles for magazines on the side. Eventually he is successful enough that can travel, with it being paid for by the articles. So he has worked his way into a life that pays him to do what he loves.

Which would you rather be?
Sadly, Ed was laid off due to the Pandemic's impact on travel. He had no other skills, so bad things happened. Bob was able to keep working from home, so he did okay. Now that travel is opening back up again, he is finally able to take a trip! :wink:
 
  • #27
berkeman said:
Sadly, Ed was laid off due to the Pandemic's impact on travel. He had no other skills, so bad things happened. Bob was able to keep working from home, so he did okay. Now that travel is opening back up again, he is finally able to take a trip! :wink:
Spoilsport :smile:
 
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  • #28
Eclair_de_XII said:
It is hardly the same thing, but sometimes, I write bash-scripts on my Linux system to help me automate layman's tasks.I have designed some programs. I can say that they have been helpful to me. But as for whether or not they can be considered helpful to others, I cannot say.
What kind of scripts? I want to get better at writing bash scripts and would like to do automate some tasks as well.
 
  • #29
annaphys said:
What kind of scripts?
I have scripts for running an impromptu TeX "shell", looking up terms in the online version of TeX for the Impatient because it lacks a digital index, finding broken symbolic links, finding and replacing all instances of a pattern in a group of files, and other trivial tasks.
 
  • #30
Eclair_de_XII said:
It is hardly the same thing, but sometimes, I write bash-scripts on my Linux system to help me automate layman's tasks.I have designed some programs. I can say that they have been helpful to me. But as for whether or not they can be considered helpful to others, I cannot say.
These are good signs. I always found great satisfaction in that. You would be amazed at how often people are continuing to do repetitive tasks by hand instead of automating them with scripts. But those same people might not appreciate what you do, so it can be frustrating on the job.
 
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  • #31
FactChecker said:
These are good signs. I always found great satisfaction in that. You would be amazed at how often people are continuing to do repetitive tasks by hand instead of automating them with scripts. But those same people might not appreciate what you do, so it can be frustrating on the job.
You can say that again.

Part of the quote from Eclair_de_XII
I write (whatever) on my (whichever) to help me automate layman's tasks.

I have designed some programs. I can say that they have been helpful to me. But as for whether or not they can be considered helpful to others, I cannot say.[/code]
You therefore should already understand, "How do I get motivated to practice programming?" You ARE MOTIVATED, or at least you are motivated at various times.

Motivation for practice creating a program may be as simple as automating a computation (Arithmetic or algebraic) from one or two formulas. User gives a bit of input to a program chooses to let program perform function, and program reports or displays result.
This posting is working wrongly. The quoting is done wrong as result. OUTSIDE the quote must be THIS:

You therefore should already understand, "How do I get motivated to practice programming?" You ARE MOTIVATED, or at least you are motivated at various times.

Motivation for practice creating a program may be as simple as automating a computation (Arithmetic or algebraic) from one or two formulas. User gives a bit of input to a program, and then chooses to let program perform function, and program reports or displays result.

edit: adjustment to some minor sentence composition trouble
 
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1. How do I find the motivation to practice programming?

Finding motivation to practice programming can be challenging, but there are a few things you can do to get started. First, set specific and achievable goals for yourself. This will give you a sense of direction and purpose. Additionally, try to find a project that interests you or solve a problem that you are passionate about. This will make practicing programming more enjoyable and rewarding.

2. What can I do to stay motivated while practicing programming?

One way to stay motivated while practicing programming is to break down your goals into smaller, manageable tasks. This will give you a sense of accomplishment as you complete each task. Additionally, take breaks and reward yourself for completing a certain amount of work. This will help you stay focused and motivated.

3. How do I overcome procrastination when it comes to practicing programming?

Procrastination is a common challenge when it comes to practicing programming. One way to overcome this is to create a schedule or routine for yourself. This will help you stay on track and make practicing programming a habit. Additionally, try to eliminate distractions and set a specific time and place for your practice sessions.

4. What are some tips for staying motivated in the long run?

Staying motivated in the long run can be difficult, but there are a few things you can do to help. First, remind yourself of the reasons why you started programming in the first place. This will help reignite your passion and drive. Additionally, continue to challenge yourself with new and more difficult projects to keep your skills sharp and your motivation high.

5. How can I stay motivated when I encounter challenges or setbacks in my programming practice?

Encountering challenges and setbacks is a natural part of the learning process in programming. To stay motivated, try to view these challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Break down the problem into smaller parts and celebrate small victories along the way. Remember to be patient with yourself and don't be afraid to ask for help when needed.

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