Learning Challenge: Addendum

Last night I was looking for some details on Z80 assembly and I decided to look at my blog. (Surely there was somewhere that I had a screenshot of a safe memory location for ORG). As I wandered through my previous learning challenges I noticed a pattern:

  • I had a tendency to abandon them about mid-month because something came up that I felt was more important to work on.
  • I think I've only finished one of them (Z80 Assembly).
  • The unprocrastination challenge sort of drifted into the miasma of being laid off.

I was a little surprised by these results. Surely I had to have some success somewhere. Yes, but not quite as much as I'd thought. The blog entries showed my thoughts at the time and most of them said the same thing: something else came up that circumvented what I was doing.

Part of this is my natural desire to have several large projects running at the same time. Currently I have projects for learning JavaScript better, writing the Fate-based Pepper&Carrot RPG, updating the license extraction script for Open Metalcast, and finishing up the release of the Pygame Photobooth. I'd be happy as hell to count any one of those projects as complete, but right now they all have some equal precedence. And my reasons for finishing each of them are pretty much as equally valid:

  • I want to learn JavaScript and front-end web development better so I can expand my work options.
  • I want to finish up the Fate-based Pepper&Carrot RPG so folks can play around in this magical and wonderful world.
  • I want to finish up the Open Metalcast license extraction script so it pulls out the license information quicker so I don't have to hunt for it as much.
  • I want to add the finishing touches to the Pygame Photobooth so others can use it better.

There's also other projects that I have that I consciously moved to my Someday / Maybe list because I know that I won't have a chance to work on them in the upcoming weeks.

Reading through those learning challenge posts reminded me that I've been noodling around with the Pepper&Carrot RPG for a while now. At the time I thought this was something that I could whip out in a few months. I was a tad mistaken in that assessment, but it also got me working on the Pepper&Carrot Wiki and got me involved in some of the world-building of Hereva. So I'm getting there, but a lot slower than I would have liked.

So what have I learned from this? I've learned a few things:

  • I need to not worry so much about working on one thing at a time for one month. It's rare that I can concentrate an entire month on something without wondering why I'm not working on the other things.
  • I need to do the work with no expectations. I recently re-read "The Effortless Life" by Leo Babauta. In there he talks about living a life without expectations. I can't know what I want to work on later this evening, so rather than try to force the issue I'm trying a tactic of just showing up and seeing what I'm passionate about working on.

I may do learning challenges in the future, but I'm also not going to get upset with myself if they don't pan out. I'm human, and my inclinations change from moment to moment. Learning is a process, and learning is also about changing behaviors. I'm working on being more mindful of what my mind is telling me and recognize the difference between procrastination and "I'm just not interested in this anymore".

At the very least I'm going to keep on being a practicing human being. I'm planning on documenting my progress here so others can see. Who knows who might be reading this late one night?