My friend John Locke wrote a great post about people stagnating in their learning. I’ve found this to be true with people learning development. Some keep digging and others stop because programming was just a fad for them.

John’s main premise is that people stop learning as they get older.

But one thing I’ve noticed as I get older is many people begin to limit what they expose themselves to as they mature. They cut off their opportunities to learn from others, perhaps for fear it will change what they believe their core essence to be.

I had a birthday

Hey, I had a birthday this year, which means I’m older. And I also pushed harder on specializing in my business.

Just today I cut 50% of my RSS feeds. Sure, some were dead so I really just got more speed out of my RSS refresh, but a good portion of the ones I cut were publishing content on a regular basis.

Some of it was technical, just not in the specialty I dig into.

You could look at this and say I’ve started to stagnate since I’m narrowing the swath of information I take in.

Is that really the case though? Does narrowing my focus really mean I’ve begun to stagnate?

I believe there will always be a tension between those items that really challenge us and provide value versus those that just fill up our lives. My goal is to get my ‘inputs’ down to the very few I actually need.

Don’t go stagnant because you fear something new, like John says.

Do refine your sources of information to those that are high value, and only pursue those. Only get into a new tool when it solves a problem.

It’s a hard tension to hold.

photo credit: pasukaru76 cc

3 responses to “Did you stop learning or get focused?”

  1. John Locke Avatar

    Thanks for the shout-out, Curtis. It’s weird how I forget what I even wrote, and I appreciate you reading it.

    There is a settling that seems to come for most as they enter the middle portion of their lives, where they calcify their beliefs, their likes, and their mindset.

    For me, I feel like I didn’t even start getting smart about life itself until that middle part. I wish I could say I did it on my own, but most of the time it was life making me uncomfortable, forcing me to make decisions.

    Some would argue I’m still not very smart, but I have way more self-awareness of things I think, and why I think them, as opposed to when I was twenty or thirty. This makes me less scared to try new things, because there’s nothing to lose by trying.

    No one can see tomorrow, and the greatest ability a web professional (or anyone, really) can have is the ability to learn.

  2. Athlone Avatar

    I’m a new developer, and relatively new to WordPress. I’ve wanted to start out the right way and as such have been doing lots of research including some TreeHouse courses about Workflow. And just yesterday I watched this Genesis Camp chat about how some well known names in WordPress ply their trade:

    I’ve come to the conclusion I’ve got to research what’s out there to help me work better, i.e. the best tools available to do what I need to get done, and then learn those tools. But (there’s always a but) the trick I think is to balance that with new tools that may help me work better.

    Your post has helped confirm that I can’t keep up with everything and learn everything, and indeed shouldn’t try, but to rather be aware of what’s out there and take on what will improve my work. Keep them coming, thanks.

    1. Curtis McHale Avatar
      Curtis McHale

      Glad I caught you early before you tried to learn everything as it came out and you ended up burning out. Way to many people new to the development world end up doing that.