Full disclosure: this post is for the most part just an expression of my own regrets for not having thought of this earlier. I wish I’d captured the budding idea and it’s evolution, the excitement and the doubts, the process with its ups and downs, the life-changing / eye opening moments, the baggy eyes after the first night of coding, the joy of sharing with others who have embarked on the same journey, the little successes and the setbacks… Read on to understand the importance of documenting your transition.
However, make no mistake: this isn’t purely out of nostalgia, though re-reading any such posts years from now would surely have brought a smile to my face. It’s also out of a realisation of the value documenting your transition into a new career can yield.
Why should you document your transition?
By now you’re surely wondering what possible benefits could there be to documenting your journey. You might be thinking you have plenty on your plate already. Unless you’re really lucky, you still have to find a way to put food on the table. You have SO much to learn and so little time and… it’s not the easiest of things. You’re second-guessing yourself every step of the way and have to battle others’ strong opinions on the matter. You invest every ounce of energy in this new endeavour and the last thing you need now is more work….
Yet, documenting your transition can bring countless and, for the most part, priceless benefits. And can help you fill in some of the gaps while also paying dividends in terms of energy. How so, you’re asking, intrigued (maybe slightly irritated, too)? Well, documenting your journey will:
- Help keep yourself accountable. When you see that you haven’t posted in a while you act, when you know your audience is waiting to hear on your progress, you act. Shaming (even in its self-directed version) really works wonders! You might have your audience actually speak up and call you out – asking how you’re advancing, especially if, in the throws of the initial enthusiasm, you actually ask them to!
- Find others who share your journey. In other words, find some transition buddies that can act as sounding board, can provide advice, can help you find resources and, later on, even help you find your dream job. Or who might later become your partners or even clients.
- Build a portfolio. When you start out, especially beyond a first career, at first you won’t have much to show for yourself your efforts. One way you can start filling this void is to write about your experiences – to actually show the progress in your thinking, in your skills. Doing so will show future employers or partners or clients how you’ve thoughtfully crafted your new career, how you’ve patiently laid brick after brick to build a strong foundation…. It’s called social proof, especially if you manage to engage with others (and stories of ‘becoming’ are highly engaging)
- Position yourself as a contributor, not just a consumer. Sure, learning and doing is an important part of learning a new trade. But you’ve got a real chance here to establish yourself as a thought leader, as someone who is not only hard at work at self-development, but someone who’s account of this transformating is also mobilising and inspiring others. This might just be your edge, your added-value later on.
- Re-energise yourself. Scrolling through your entries, reviewing your progress, will help you realise just what a long way you’ve come. This will be crucial in those inevitable days of self-doubt and fatigue – and will help you find the energy to go on, to take that next step…
How to actually document your transition?
Ok, you’re sold on this, but you still don’t know how to do this. Not a problem, like those who are brave after the battle :), I have you covered. Here are some ideas – you can use one or more of them to create your own mix:
- Blog. You can easily set up a free blog to host your thoughts. Blogs are SO much fun and provide you with the added benefit of owning your information. You can find out more on this free ProBlogger course on Starting a blog. However, f that sounds like too much for you, you can also leverage existing platforms, such as Medium – where you can write an occasional article to tell the world your process for dealing with challenges. Or you could use the ‘Article’ feature available on both LinkedIn or Facebook – with no set up at all.
- Social media. Don’t feel like writing elaborate posts and feel your learning curve is already maxed out? No problem – you can always just post regular / occasional updates on whatever social network you use. Whichever network you choose, stick with it – but you might want to consider in particular:
- LinkedIn – because it’s a professional network that will bring your progress in front of potential employers or business partners
- Twitter – because it’s so informal and it allows you to just blurt out things more or less spontaneously, without much preparation
- Good old journalling. At the very least, get a notebook and journal off line. This is helpful if you’re not yet sure where you’re heading or you’re too self-conscious to get started. Scribble away, but maybe keep one entry per page – you never know when you might want to move it online and you’ll then be able to easily scan and use your notes.
What exactly should you document?
But what would you be writing about? Oh, trust me – there will be plenty of things that will fill your heart and brain, and occasionally find their ways to your lips 🙂 You could:
- Document the learning: what you’re studying, why you chose that particular aspect / technology / topic, your approach to learning it, your progress, where you stumbled, your breakthroughs and so on
- Document emotions: and I guarantee there’ll be plenty of those, randing from hope when you first gest started, to sheer excitement when your first few lines of code come to life or whatever else you’ll end up doing will start making sense; there’ll be ups and downs, moments of energy and moments of self-doubt, moments of joy and moments of desperation….
- Document progress: this is the most fun – you can cast a spotlight on your actual work – whether you’re creating a new website, or assembling your first robot, or designing a new app, creating visuals etc. Share your prototypes, your first drafts, your successes – big and small, even your failures.
And in case you haven’t guessed: this blog is my own take on documenting – albeit in a slightly different approach. I’d love to hear how you’re faring – so be sure to drop below a link to whatever documenting method you’ve opted for. And tell us how documenting your journey is helping you stay on track.
So get started. And if you need something to document – start your Transition to web development with my Roadmap.