There’s no point in the theory if you never put it into practice. Learning new things is interesting but making use of the new knowledge and turning it into a regular habit is far more important.
Now, I’m not a really a gym person but I recently joined a gym. It happens to be on the 3rd floor, yet the majority of people take the lift up to the gym.
Let’s think about this for a second. These are motivated people who want to get fit. They’re paying money to the gym so they can exercise on machines. Yet even when they’re in their workout gear they ignore the opportunity of a warm up and don’t even walk up the stairs. The irony seems almost too much, this inconsistency seems absurd.
(This gym is even worse!)
Taking a step back from this made me think about the last conference I went to. I came back inspired with hundreds of good ideas and improvements that I could make. As soon as I got back to the office however I got caught up in the day to day business and didn’t implement any of them.
This is like me taking the lift up to the gym. I’ve made an investment of time, I’ve been actively involved, I have learnt something new. That’s all good, but the important thing is to use this new knowledge and put it into practice in the real world.
The question I’d like to ask you today is: “Does this sound familiar?” Are you investing time studying but not actually putting the new knowledge into practice? Are you reading blogs on new frameworks and technologies but never trying them out? Are you reading about code quality and unit tests but never writing any tests?
“But what should I do?”
- Start small. If you’re trying to improve your code quality then write just one unit test.
- If you do read an interesting article or attend a seminar on an interesting topic. Make sure you take action that day. Don’t think about it, do it! Before you leave the seminar write down one thing that you can do.
- Positive Reinforcement. Celebrate the small wins. If you’ve written a unit test then you’ve made one small step to improving quality. That’s far more important than wishing you had good test coverage but doing nothing about it.
Gyms provide a dedicated and specific place to work out. Yet most gym goers miss simple exercise opportunities like taking the stairs or walking a few blocks. Individually they’re not much but if done continuously through the day and they become a habit and it can have a bigger impact than the gym.
Likewise there are plenty of ways to learn new technology skills from blogs, online courses or conferences. This is your “dedicated” time, make sure that you follow up with regular “mini workouts” that are part of your regular daily routine. The “doing” and putting into practice will actually make a bigger difference.