Continuous Learning Strategies for Successful Developers
- What You’ll Learn
- Why Do Developers Need Continuous Learning?
- Strategies to Cultivate a Continuous Learning Mindset
- Cultivating Your Self-Image as a Lifelong Learner
- Putting Together a Learning Path
- Creating Your Learning System
- Building Your Learning Support System
- Cultivating the Skill of Learning by Doing
- Diversifying Your Solo Learning Methods
- Overcoming Obstacles to Continuous Learning
- Key Takeaways
- About the Author
To stay competitive as a software developer in today’s rapidly changing industry, you have to be innovative, adaptable and flexible. Whether you wish to learn a new subject or brush up on an old one, you need to study on your own and put in the effort to retain that information over time. So how can you foster a habit of continuous learning and development? And how can you overcome self-directed learning challenges?
What You’ll Learn
- How to create a mindset and routine for continuous learning.
- A plan to develop specific strategies for efficient solo study.
- How to overcome obstacles to continuous learning.
You’ll start by taking a look at why solo study is so important to being a successful mobile developer.
Why Do Developers Need Continuous Learning?
Continuous learning is the process of constantly acquiring new knowledge and skills — or brushing up old ones — to enhance your personal and professional growth. In the context of software development, continuous learning means staying up-to-date with the latest technologies, programming languages, frameworks and best practices.
Continuous learning is especially important for developers because it helps:
- Stay abreast of changes in technology.
- Retain what you have already learned.
Technology is not a stable field. Tools, languages, and operating systems evolve over time, people discover new best practices to achieve great outcomes, and innovations (like AI) shake up the industry. Continuous learning helps you stay on top of the wave so you aren’t wasting time and resources on outdated methods.
Furthermore, you probably know that if you don’t use skills regularly, you lose them. Continuous learning helps overcome the forgetting curve. According to Herman Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve research, information is easier to remember when it is based on prior knowledge, as the graph below illustrates. Each time you practice what you’ve learned, the rate of decline decreases.
Developers who cultivate an identity as a solo learner see benefits like:
- Improved productivity and performance: Research has found that learning keeps brain cells working at optimum levels for longer. By continuously updating your skills, you’ll work more efficiently, write better code and avoid making mistakes that could lead to costly errors.
- Increased job satisfaction and motivation: Learning new things is exciting and fulfilling. It helps you feel more engaged and motivated in your work.
- Enhanced career growth and job security: You compete in an era where companies have many choices. By staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends, you position yourself as an expert in your field, which can help you secure your job and advance your career.
So now that you know why it’s so important to keep learning throughout your development career, the next question is how you can build self-study into your routine.
Strategies to Cultivate a Continuous Learning Mindset
By building continuous learning into your role as a developer, you’ll not only stay relevant, but also improve your skills and stay ahead of the competition. But as we all know, it’s easy to let upskilling slide when you’re dealing with daily pressures. To avoid that, you’ll learn practical tips for incorporating continuous learning into your routine, including:
- Adding “continuous learner” to your self-image.
- Putting together a learning path to follow.
- Creating your learning system.
- Building your learning support system.
- Putting what you learned into practice.
By following these tips, you can build the foundation of a lifelong learning habit that helps you grow both personally and professionally. Next, you’ll find out how to do it.
Cultivating Your Self-Image as a Lifelong Learner
How you think about your ability to learn plays a big part in how effective — and how enjoyable — solo study is for you. So if you’ve ever thought that you’re not a good student, put those fears aside and believe in something better for yourself.
In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear claims that the best method for changing your habits is to concentrate on who you want to become rather than what you want to accomplish. Simply put, your current behaviors are a reflection of your current identity.
Decide to become a consistent learner and believe you can do it. Then, consider the habits a consistent learner would follow — and adopt them. Start small to build momentum.
Next, focus on your environment. The environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior. Small changes in context over time can result in significant changes in behavior. So set yourself up for success by creating an environment that helps you learn.
To create a nourishing learning environment, focus on cultivating habits, choosing appropriate resources and creating the physical and mental space to encourage yourself to continuously acquire knowledge.
Putting Together a Learning Path
According to Benjamin Franklin, if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. So set a plan for your self-study by creating a learning path to keep focused on your target — even if you already have experience in the field you’re studying.
How can you find a learning path for a topic you don’t know well? Here are three ideas:
- Search for a documented learning path for the subject or industry you want to explore. Many developers post roadmaps for particular subjects or even an entire programming language on their blogs or LinkedIn profiles.
- Senior engineers can help out by either sharing their own roadmaps with you or pointing you in the direction of a good one.
- Finally, if you were unable to locate a pre-built roadmap, you might make your own by using the table of contents from books or courses.
If you find a good learning path that you’d like to follow someday, save it till you begin working on it. You’ll thank me later.
Once you know what you want to learn, you need to create a system to help you accomplish your solo study goals.