Today we (the ruby on rails cohort in atlanta) got a homework assignment that is bigger than anything we’ve previously tackled.
It isn’t that we haven’t covered each piece of the puzzle that is required to make the complete project come together. Rather it is that it suddenly looked really big. Like maybe three times as large as any single project we’ve done to date.
So there was this moment, just after I read through the requirements for the homework, that I totally freaked out. My mind went blank. My heart started racing. Sweat started to build on my fore head. I emailed my psychiatrist to get an appointment. Finally I passed out for approxomately .15 seconds. It was terrifying.
Ok, so it wasn’t quite that bad, but I did freak out. Just. A. Little. Bit.
In the past hour or so I’ve processed things somewhat and I’ve gone from freak out mode to, “I think I can do this” mode.
Here is how that transition occurred. (and hopefully how you can get to the same place.)
My first action was to stop thinking about the project at all. Taking my focus of the imensity of the entire project for even just a few moments allowed me to quit hyperventilating.
Getting over the initial shock and awe of the momentary feeling of “oh no, I can’t believe I was just asked to run across hot coals with no shoes on,” allowed me to stop focusing on the entire project.
The key here is to stop thinking… about the entire project at once. If you can remove the immensity of the whole thing hitting you at once, you can step back and start to enter the next phase.
Break It Down
This is obvious. It’s just not the first thing I thought of or felt.
Big things look big because we fail to realize that the big thing is made up of many smaller things. Did you ever hear about the guy who ate an entire elephant? Sure you have… he did it one bite at a time till it was gone.
In the Rails Application we are building we were asked to start thinking about user stories.
For instance, one user story could go something like this. A user needs to be able to sign up. They need a way to exchange data with the app, store that data and become a “user.” That, in and of itself is an integral part of how the rest of the application will work, so maybe we should attack that first.
Once we have a user registered we reach another user story. A user needs to be able to sign in. All those credentials they just used to register as a user will come in really handy here. If a user can only register (and not sign in) then the app is pointless again. Maybe it makes sense to attack this user story second.
That my friends is how I got over my hyperventilation.
I stopped and broke things down.
Wrapping it all Up
I’ve talked about breaking things down before. The importance of taking everything step by step really hit home with today’s assignment.
So I leave you with that.
Now, go do what ever you need to be doing today.
Oh, OK . I’m off. :).
Great words of wisdom, Eldon! I hope the rest of the class reads this and learns to take smaller steps too 🙂
Eldon Yoder says
I think I’ve got some further practice before I get the “smaller steps” totally figured out myself…
Brian Burridge (@brianburridge) says
Thanks for sharing Eldon. I’m sure others in your situation will find it encouraging and helpful. I’m glad Shelby freaked you out, because learning to handle that situation is just as important as learning dev skills. You’ve take another step forward, and that’s exciting to see. Best wishes!
Eldon Yoder says
Best wishes with everything in Tampa as well. I know you’re going to change a lot of peoples lives for the better… and that is awesome!