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How I Learn New Skills Quickly

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of coding and building apps. During college, I even declared computer science as my major. But after struggling through a few programming classes and barely passing with a minor, I accepted that my brain just wasn’t wired for coding.

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For years, I told myself that story. Gregg and coding just don’t mix. My mind doesn’t work that way.

But then, around two years ago, I decided it was time to finally commit to learning to code properly.

The Shift

The biggest driver of this shift was simply that I had an idea for an app but I didn’t have the budget to pay a developer. So I realized that the only way forward was to learn to code it myself.

Having this clear goal and motivation made a huge difference compared to my past failed attempts at learning programming. Basically, it made it a lot easier to push through the confusion because I wanted to make this app a reality.

And let me tell you…those first few months were rough.

Bashing My Head Against a Brick Wall

I began with online coding courses, watching tutorial videos and completing exercises. And I just felt lost. Completely and utterly lost.

Simple coding concepts that the instructor breezed through baffled me. I’d spend hours hacking away at the keyboard trying to solve basic problems, only to have the solution suddenly work with no idea how or why.

I vividly remember sitting in my basement late at night, the glow of my computer screen illuminating my face while I stared angrily at lines of code that seemed to be mocking me. The frustration was real.

But I persisted. Every single day for two years I continued to grind through more tutorials. I stayed up until 2 or 3am on multiple occasions just trying to wrap my head around a new concept or bug that refused to get fixed.

I won’t sugarcoat it – it was a brutal learning curve. I constantly felt like I was bashing my head against a brick wall. That I was too dumb and this was a waste of time. Coding was never going to click for me.

But then one day, after months of mind-numbing practice…something changed.

Things Suddenly Clicked

By this point I had moved on from coding courses and started working on my own simple app idea. I felt this would be the fastest way to make progress.

I sat down at my computer and started coding like usual. But this time, the concepts that had seemed so foreign and unintuitive just made sense.

Things were finally clicking!

Looking back, I credit this persistence and repeated practice for getting me over that hump. I engaged with coding concepts and worked through concrete problems every single day. Even when it felt painfully pointless.

My brain was essentially exercising a muscle. With enough repetition, suddenly the neural pathways start firing faster, behaviors get more automatic, and you achieve mastery. What felt clumsy and overwhelmingly complex becomes natural.

This idea was crystallized for me in a quote I came across recently:

“We get better at what we repeatedly do.”

Such a simple and obvious statement, yet so profound. We possess the incredible ability to learn and master new skills as humans. But there’s no hack or secret formula. True learning happens through doing. By sheer repetition.

Once I embraced this mentality, my coding abilities skyrocketed. Within a year of that breakthrough point, I was hired as a full-time software engineer!

Interviewers were impressed with how I articulated complex programming concepts. I even had multiple people say my understanding surpassed other candidates.

I share this not to brag, but to demonstrate the power of persistence. I went from totally lacking any inherent talent with coding, to grasping it well enough to work professionally.

The only thing that got me there? Repeated practice. Slowly building up those skills one tiny, incremental step at a time.

Current Learning Goals

I continue to apply this lesson of repetition and consistency to my life. Recently, I’ve been actively trying to learn new skills like singing, drawing, and speaking Japanese.

These feel just as clumsy and intimidating as coding did initially. I sound terrible singing. My drawings look like a 3 year old’s. And forming sentences in Japanese feels like I’m speaking Martian.

But I’m no longer deterred by that initial incompetence and discomfort. I know that’s merely a part of the learning process. With enough repetition, I will improve.

So I prioritize consistent practice. I take vocal lessons, draw as often as I can, and study Japanese vocabulary daily. Following that simple motto:

We get better at what we repeatedly do.

The same is true for you. Whatever dream or goal is calling to you, the path forward is persistence. Keep showing up and putting in the work, even if you feel like you’re bashing your head against a wall.

Don’t buy into the myth that your abilities are fixed or that you don’t have what it takes. You absolutely do. Commit to consistent action and have faith in the process. Your skills will transform in ways you can’t even imagine right now.

The only magic is time and repetition. Tune out your doubts, embrace the ups and downs of the learning curve, and know that you’re getting better each time you try. Progress might not always be linear, but growth comes through perseverance.