How I managed to improve in my field
Step outside your comfort zone and dare to try new things - these are good old cliches that worked well for me.
Too long to read:
- Make sure you grasp the basics, and apply them
- Be patient and stay curious
- Step outside your comfort zone
- Dare to challenge yourself
- Test and try things out
- Be humble and learn from others
During six years in the front-end development field I’ve almost always felt like I’m way behind. New frameworks and techniques keeps popping up while I feel like I stand still, a passive spectator sticking to the good old stuff I was comfortable with.
By doing so, you get things done, but you don't grow and develop. I was never 100% satisfied with the things I produced, knowing things could be done better. This feeling will probably persist unless you do something about it. Looking back now after a few years in the business, I’ve tried to gather some things that helped me grow.
Make sure you grasp the basics, and apply them
To be able to step outside your comfort zone, you need a solid base to rely on. Make sure you know the basics of semantic HTML, how CSS really works (don't start out with frameworks like I did) and why accessibility matters. A CSS-related tip is to study a framework like Bootstrap of Foundation in detail to understand how it’s built and where everything originates from. To be able to lean on this knowledge is invaluable when exploring CSS further for example.
Be patient and stay curious
No matter the context, things take time, up until the last years I haven't been patient enough, I haven't looked at my progress at a long term perspective. It's better to try to stay curious over time than super curious for short episodes, it pays off in the end.
Challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone
They may be cliches, but they worked for me. I've mostly played things safe, held on to my “go to” framework and standard approaches, got things done, but was never entirely satisfied. Last year I was given the opportunity to work on a React-based search application in a project, a really good opportunity, being able to be kind of a sidekick and observe more experienced developers working.
Test and try things out
I had kept my eye on Gatsby for a while, it seemed really nice, but I hadn't tried it out. Without knowing what I was getting myself into, I decided to try Gatsby out to see what it was like. In the beginning, I didn’t really have a clue what was going on, but along the way I started to understand React and how I could get things to behave like I wanted. A few months later, I’ve implemented a headless CMS, produced custom animations with GSAP and learned a new CSS framework (Tailwind). Just by randomly downloading Gatsby, I’ve grown enormously without any prior experience of these things.
Be humble and learn from others
Coming from a sports background, it has been obvious to learn from the best. Bend it like Beckham, dribble like Messi and finish like Ronaldo (both Ronaldos). Why haven't I had that mindset at work? There is so much talented people you can learn from, it’s literally just a Google search away. Another tip is to take part in a community, ask for help, help others and grow together.
If you have skilled colleagues or friends, ask them for feedback or how they would solve a challenge you currently have, they will surely help you out. Let go of the pride and prestige, it’ll make you grow both as a person and professional and to learn and develop new skills.