Should You Teach Yourself to Code?

If you're motivated and ready for the long haul, teach yourself to code.

Learning programming on your own is definitely not easy.

That’s why I’ve put together the following list of six questions for you to ask yourself before you decide to dive deeper into the journey of self-taught programming.

These questions should help you gauge your likelihood of successfully learning to code on your own.

The last two questions on this list are the ones you really need to be able to answer, the other skills and traits can be learned and acquired.

Are you a logical thinker?

You don’t need to be a logical thinker to learn programming. The more you work at it, the easier it will become to break problems into smaller pieces, which is essential to solving them.

If you already think logical in steps, you will have a bit of a head start, but don’t worry if that’s not you—it’s an ability you’ll develop with time and practice.

Can you focus for long periods of time?

In order to not only successfully learn how to code, but to code in general, you need to be capable of focusing on the same task for extended periods of time.

Obviously, you can and should take breaks.

However, if you can’t stand the idea of coming back to the same project afterwards, then programming probably isn’t for you.

Do you enjoy solving problems?

One of the most time consuming parts of programming is fixing bugs—errors in your code.

I once spent about five hours (total, not straight) trying to fix one issue I was encountering. It turned out to be the tiniest mistake—which left me both relieved and annoyed.

If you don’t have the patience and the determination to work at bugs for extended amounts of time (generally it won’t take you five hours) then you may want to consider a different hobby.

On the other hand, if you’re like me and you really enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after figuring out a problem, then programming is for you!

Are you self-motivated?

Being a good programmer is 3% talent and 97% not being distracted by the internet.

Self-motivation is absolutely key if you want to teach yourself to code. If you are not intrinsically motivated, you will probably be less willing to sit down and work through the challenges that you will certainly face.

At times, you will have to force yourself to push on, even though you may not want to (I certainly did, many times).

This is where your answer to the following question comes into play.

Without a good reason why you want to learn to programming, you’ll have nothing to keep you going.

I cannot stress enough how essential being self-motivated is. It’s quite possibly the single best indicator of whether or not you will succeed in teaching yourself to code.

Are you ready for the long haul?

Teaching yourself to code is no easy task.

You will almost certainly spend hours struggling to understand concepts and how to fit it all together. If you aren’t prepared to put in a sizable amount of time, your chances of success are slim.

NOTE: the time it takes you to learn programming may vary greatly. It took my twelve year old self roughly two years to become proficient, but that may be in part due to my brain’s capacity at the time.

Why are you interested in programming?

Programming is a subject which you need to be enthusiastic about if you want to get anywhere.

If you’re in it for the money, you may want to reconsider. It will likely be some time before you earn anything off programming.

The fact that you may at some point in the future make some money from programming will most likely not be enough to keep you going when it gets tough.

When I began my programming journey at the age of twelve, it was in large part due to my desire to make games.

Over time, I realized that this was a field in which I would potentially like to work in the future, and money became a secondary motivator.

In conclusion

The first four questions in this post are all about whether or not you possess certain traits or qualities.

Don’t worry if your answer to some of them was no—they can all be developed if you work at them.

The most critical part of teaching yourself to code is being willing to put in the time and knowing why you are doing it.

It’s inevitable that you will struggle throughout this journey. If you want to successfully teach yourself to code, the single most important part is that you have a strong source from which you can draw motivation.