To Make Progress, Start By Breaking It Up


There's a few computer science principles that can be surprisingly applied to general life. As an example, the notion of greedy algorithms. One can liken the idea of optimal choice at every iteration to trying your best daily so that it works out over the long term -- seems reasonable.

Another one is the idea of instructions, that is, single operations for the processor. Code in aggregate is difficult to comprehend, but when taken line by line, make for a narrative of sorts. The key is that the big concepts are broken down as much as possible, to the point where the processor can accomplish a single task.

This works outside of computer science too. The notion of building a great career over 40 years can be intimidating, but can also be broken down: are you improving technically? Are you taking on harder tasks? Do you demonstrate enthusiastic?

Let's say you do want to improve technically. What area do you want to improve? Maybe your database systems knowledge needs some work. Perhaps you haven't worked much in the browser, but want to learn more.

Once you've determined the area, the actual step may be to read an article or watch a video on the topic. At this point, you have an actionable task that you can do and check off, knowing full well that you've made progress toward your goal. You can't decide that this afternoon you want to "build a great career" or "master database systems", but you can go through a few Lynda videos on the topic or scaffold an app.

If you've been meaning to start something and have been feeling resistance, try breaking things down until you can do something, and see if that helps.

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