Reflect on Your Learning

February 1, 2016    Learning Personal Tips Programming

Girl thinking, facing Sunset

When we are young, time seems to move so slowly. It drags on, only marked by birthdays, holidays, and maybe the odd vacation. Okay, maybe I am being a bit dramatic, but you get the point. When we are young, time seems to be marked by milestones. Milestones that seem to take forever to reach.

Getting older, time speeds up. We seem to be running downhill, just trying to keep our feet under us to keep from tripping up.

When I was in college, I learned to appreciate the school semseter. I was not one to love the education system, but I found the definition of semseters to be a great guide. Every 3 months was the end of the “chapter” and the beginning of the next. This allowed me to stop to stop “running” for a moment. I would cease looking ahead and instead, reflect on what I had learned in those last 90 days. I believe this was incredibly important for me. Being in touch with what I had learned allowed me to keep track and to celebrate the milestones I was continuing to hit in my personal life, career, and overall learning.

This was particularly important as a musician. Unlike my classes, I didn’t receive a grade on the the gigs I was playing, the artists I was working for, and the ways I would rise to the challenge of each gig.

Leaving college, I decided to continue to implement the 3 month “evaluation” on myself. It was a perfect length of time; long enough to set new goals, follow through, then see the results of the hard work. 90 days also kept the goals small enough that they were “conquerable”.

As I transitioned from music to coding, this practice has been invaluable. When learning a new skill, it is important to be aware of small successes to help combat feeling overwhelmed and to see progression. Most people in my life would say I have too high of expectations on myself and my learning. I think it keeps me ever pushing, however there are times I know I start to focus on all I have in the queue. This reflection practice allows me to stop, keep aware of what I am learning and see myself continuing to grow my skills. It also allows for a direction shift. I can make a decision to learn or explore a topic and re-evaluate in 90 days. It has helped me avoid decision paralysis because no choice is permanent.

I highly recommend taking time to take an account of what you learned over the past few months. You can find a time period which works best for you. Maybe it is 4 months or 2. No matter the amount of time, make sure and stop to reflect.