just dans

Making programming more accessible

03 Mar 2021

What I've Seen Work

The successful projects I’ve been a part of all had a common flow:

  1. Pick a goal.
  2. Start working right away.
  3. Ask for help when you need it.
  4. Show what you’ve built to the people who will be using/buying it.
  5. Change the goal to something those people care about.
  6. Toss out anything that doesn’t get you to the goal.
  7. Ship it.

The projects that veer off this flow tend to peter out. It’s usually not out of laziness, either—I’ve seen people work fairly hard on things that weren’t quite what people wanted or were too big to finish in any reasonable amount of time.

By default, most people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They don’t know where they’re headed. I count myself in that camp. I used to think it took supreme discipline to march toward goals. Or you had to be the kind of person who enjoys long planning meetings. Either way it did not sound appealing in the least and I actively avoided figuring out where I was headed. My daydream was that I would just do stuff and magically end up where I wanted to be. Which sounds silly when you say it out loud.

My antidote to daydreaming has been to ask myself “what’s important right now?” Usually that list is shorter than you think and you can shrink it even more. Surprisingly enough (to me), asking “what am I worried about?” really helps. At any given time there are multiple things I’m worried about but haven’t shared with anyone else. They build up in my mind until I can’t stand it anymore and then I finally write write them down or talk with someone. Worrying about something is a sign you’re avoiding it.