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Advice for self-learners: How to teach yourself, find motivation and project ideas

Hey there brave self-learner!

First of all, I would like to insist upon how brave you are. Teaching yourself <some X> can be difficult, draining and frankly, quite a lonely process sometimes.

Second, don't loose hope if you can't seem to learn using MOOCs. Not many people can teach themselves that way. In fact, a study of edX courses suggests that MOOCs haven't democratised education like you might think they have.

Some people can only learn by engaging in more hands-on ways of teaching. Embrace that. So, instead of searching for a relevant project after you learn something, it might be better for you to start with a project and learn everything you need to to bring that project to life.

This is where repl.it can prove to be of tremendous help. And not just with its ability to get your environment set up in a few seconds but also with its community building efforts. I find the share section on Repl.it talk and the challenge section on Repl.it talk really helpful in letting me discover some cool, doable project ideas. And isn't getting cool project ideas the narrowest bottleneck that prevents you from building stuff yourself?

Third, as you work on teaching yourself, don't ignore the importance of keeping yourself motivated. I would suggest 3 systems that will help you learn X when your physical environment won’t —

  1. Make serious efforts to fall in love with <X> before you try to learn it
  2. Create and be in an environment that motivates you
  3. Incentivize yourself to push through the nitty-gritties of learning X

Make serious, conscious efforts to find reasons to become obsessed with X. Remember that you can turn, what is perhaps the most negative aspect of social media — an addictive and infinitely scrollable feed — and use it to your advantage. Also remember that building something that seems cool and interesting is a great way to trick yourself into learning X with dedication.

I have more pointers and tips about the Difficulties with self-learning and 3 systems to solve them here.

Have fun!


we all need extra motivation sometimes, particularly when starting out. As someone who is still fairly novice I really appreciate your advice about obsession. I have dealt with an addictive personality my whole life and now I have found a way to harness that energy towards coding.
Keep spreading the good word!


What a great read! Can't wait to see what you write about in the future. Stay positive everyone!


Thanks a lot @LeonDoesCode :)


@NityeshAgarwal No problem! You can mark this problem as answered if it helped.


@LeonDoesCode This isn't an Ask post, it's a Learn post. You can't mark a Learn post as answered.


@MatthewDoan1 as you can tell, I'm in the ask section to much XD.


First and Foremost thankyou. Im a disabled vet and not unlike someone comming in from the wilderness and finding a utopian world im am straving to and for knowledge, the world of knowledge , puzzles, mystery , adventure. embedded in what seems alien technology i.e. codes please icall out and ask will you teach me? i will fall in love with this thing x you speak of. Where do i begin. Sincerly student seeking teacher. p.s pro bono until i make my first million


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A skill goal must be set.
You are just walking in various directions right now.
What kind of work would you like? That must be reduced. Either you want to develop the web, software, or lower language level engineering (C++, non-Android Java, Python algorithm, data and research analysis, etc.).
You concentrate fire on that category when you tighten it down.
In the 10 months since I stayed in two languages:JavaScript and Objective-C, I gained still self motivations and less experience than you.
My goal was mobile development with at least a concrete understanding of web development enough that I could understand what JSON objects are and jQuery and API responses are so that I can work in mobile development in a position that requires responding to servers (pretty much over 90% of mobile development positions require this knowledge).


thank you .sometimes i feel like i am not making any progress .its hard but determination and consistency will pay off






Much appreciated. You don't know what you have just done for me,so thank you.


really well written!


Thanks for the advice I'm lost all ready