Do you ever find yourself writing a to-do list, and in the top line, instead of writing something to do, you write something you’ve already done… just for the satisfaction of immediately making a mark beside it?
I do this a bit more often than I would like.
I did it this morning, in fact.
To the right, you see my (actual, today) to-do list. I write it like a letter, with the date at the top, in a beautiful book. To the left is something I started today in response to feeling overwhelmed by all that seemed ahead of me. Not a list of to-do, but a list of things done.
As a learner, I often feel as though I am in a transitory period. I’m in one place, and I’d like to be in another. The process of getting there is one of growth, change, and transition. It’s also often painful.
This liminal space – unsatisfied with the here, and certainly not yet there – can feel very vulnerable. Perhaps you’re impatient for signs of progress, tempted to give up when they come too slowly, or not at all. Or maybe you feel that the road ahead is too long, the journey too arduous: there’s just too much to learn and do, so why try? For an extra dose of demoralization, try comparing yourself to others who have already accomplished what you’re still trying out. Is it even more insidious? Do you lack confidence in your innate abilities, your potential to learn, your stamina, or find it hard to ask for help?
As someone learning to code, I have felt all of these feelings a dozen times or more. I become dispirited and feel disempowered: there’s too much to do, I’m too behind, I’ll never catch up, I’m not good enough.
And yet I’ve noticed that part of what informs this hopelessness is not taking stock of the small, incremental steps I’ve taken towards my goal. I focus so much on the to-do, that I fail to acknowledge what has already been done.
It sounds trite, acknowledging that a journey of a thousand miles is made up of steps. But for some reason, it’s all too easy to lose sight of those steps.
By writing my dones today, I bring awareness back to the ways I am moving towards my goals, even when progress seems achingly slow, or depression and anxiety creep in and tell me I’ll never make it. This blog post is another sign of that, an embattled cry against those forces.
I hope that if you’re struggling with a project, you’ll take comfort in these words, and perhaps even a few moments to write down all that you have (already) accomplished today. A few deep breaths and cup of tea can help, too.
When you return to your work – and you will – I hope you return with new energy, clarity, and hope.
Looking for more inspiration? I highly recommend checking out my friend Anna’s blog. She’s got a few great posts up right now: Understanding Computer Words: What Is A Decorator?, Coding Made Me a Better Problem Solver, and My Favorite Python Learning Resources.
Also on the learning journey? Your best read today will certainly be Aubrey Howell’s post at Keen IO’s blog: “Don’t Let Anyone Tell You That You Can’t Be A Developer.” Seriously.