In the past year, I have been trying to stretch my comfort zone. To get more comfortable with doing uncomfortable things. I have tried to run an online local news startup, gotten more involved with my (now former) community, flown across the country to interview for jobs, and moved to a large city on 3 weeks notice to take a job with a huge company. All of these have been started with doing something once: posting one article, going to one meetup, doing one leetcode problem, etc. Two things have given me success in these new adventures: consistent repetition and accountability.
I found that the more I have done things, the more that I found what was uncomfortable to be less so, sometimes even enjoyable! I also found that as I repeatedly did things, that I made new friends, discovered new talents, had new experiences. I have been able to gain confidence that has allowed me to go further and further out of my comfort zone as I stacked experience on experience and added connections and skills.
But there have been hobbies and paths that I started on that never quite got going. And that is fine. Not everything you try has to be a winner. Looking at the things I was able to be successful, or at least put a better effort into, versus things that were not so, I realized that that is where the accountability came in. When I was working out, the best I did was when I had a workout partner or someone who would ask me how my workouts were going. When I was scared and nervous to get involved in my local developer community, I was able to make a connection with some people who cared that I came back and even looked forward to some things that I had to share.
As I was looking to make a change in my career, I came across the blog, Simple Programmer. I had heard of the founder of the blog, John Sonmez, and taken some of his courses on Pluralsight. He had an email one day about how much it helped his career as a programmer when he started blogging. So I signed up for the email course that he was offering to give tips about how to build your blog. Somethings so far have been fairly self evident about blogging, but the biggest thing for me was the accountability aspect of the course. There is homework. This post is one of the homework assignments. But having him write back after one of the responses I had to an assignment email, let me know that he was holding me accountable to carry out this course as well. That really meant a lot to me.
For me, doing things over and over has made it more comfortable when trying new things. But it is that accountability to someone else. Knowing that someone else has a vested interest in me doing something new, trying to improve myself, that spurs me on. It keeps pushing me forward. I am hoping that this course on blogging will help me become a better writer and programmer, help me instill some more discipline in myself, and allow me to give back by putting some useful knowledge out.