There is a simple reason why you don’t understand what you’re learning – you skipped steps. You tried to learn something advanced without having the fundamentals to back yourself up.
What you’re trying to do by learning things that are far too advanced is like trying to drive an F1 without a drivers’ license. Can you imagine how badly you’ll crash?
Where you’re at determines what “level” of stuff you try to learn. If you learn something too simple, you’ll get bored. If you learn something too advanced, you’ll get overwhelmed.
But, just knowing where you are isn’t enough. You don’t have a map of what to learn, which is why you’re stuck in the first place.
This brings us to the next thing:
2. Where do you want to get to?
You cannot use an abstract target like “learn enough to get hired”. If you use that as a target, you’ll remain lost since everyone hires differently. Don’t sabotage yourself by using a target set by someone else. Plus, if you want to get hired, you can get hired with less skills than you imagine you need.
Once you know your end goal, you can work backwards to list the things you possibly need to learn to get there. This list is your learning map. With this map, check off one thing at a time, until you’ve completed what you set out to build. Then, repeat the process and learn something new.
3. What’s the shortest path between these two points?
The learning map you’ve created will consist of winding paths. You won’t know what winding paths you’ve created. Worse, you won’t know if any hidden straight paths get you from where you are to where you want to be even faster.
This is expected. You’re charting your way into unknown territory. You won’t know if paths are straight or winding because you don’t know what you don’t know. There can be a shorter path between your two points, but you can’t see it.
This is where a mentor can come in and help. The mentor went through the path you’re trying to take. He/she knows the landscape better than you. If you have a mentor, consult them. Ask them how to get to where you want to be.
If you lack a mentor, it’s okay too. Sometimes, you just need to take that winding path to learn.
- The Baby Phase
- The Child Phase
- The Teenage Phase
- The Adult Phase
Let’s walk through each phase briefly so you understand where you are and where you should focus your energy.
The Baby Phase
The Child Phase
In this phase, focus on learning methods provided to you by the DOM. Learn about selecting elements, traversing the DOM, adding and removing things from the DOM, adding and removing event listeners, changing styles and classes.
Try building simple things like accordions. Maybe even showing a menu when a button gets clicked. It’s okay to copy-paste at first, but make sure write your component from scratch afterward so you understand the underlying mechanics.
The Teenage Phase
You’re in the Teenage Phase if you already know how to build stuff from scratch. You’re somewhat confident you’ll be able to build anything DOM related, but you still can’t do them with a snap of your fingers.
Your code may be messy and unorganized. It may lack best practices, but at least you got things working.
The next step is to learn best practices from books and experts all around. Absorb what you can, then, rebuild what you’ve built. Use the new practices you’ve learned to internalize them.
This is also where you’ll want to begin looking at object oriented programming (OOP) and functional programming (FP). You’d also want to start learning about querying APIs from places like Github and Twitter.
The Adult Phase
Here, you have a few options:
- You can learn a frontend framework (like Angular, Vue or React).
- You can learn Node to build a backend.
Choose any option you want here. What you choose depends on where you want to get to. (Remember, your motivation is the deciding factor. Don’t let anyone else decide for you).
If you choose to learn Node, you’ll start your journey towards a full-stack developer. Here, you have to learn about databases and server configuration at the same time.
How do you work through each phase?
- Where do you want to get to?
- What’s the path you’re going to take?
Leave a comment below/send me an email and tell me your answers. I’ll be waiting to help you refine them if you need help.