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Dear Developer: You Eat Problems For Lunch. You Got this.



Things will not always go your way. There, I said it. Don't let ego and pride take you down when you face that coding challenge slapping you around and bruising more than just your ego.

First, I am you. All good developers like you have been there and could be there right now with you.

Every developer will face a bug, a new feature to develop, or a sprint task that brings them to their knees. You aren't alone; we all experience this feeling. The task you just knew was a no-brainer, 30-minute single-sliced pizza-sized task when you estimated it and added it to your plate as a sprint task. And now, 4 hours in, you can't believe it's kicking you in the butt. The struggle is real. Confidence shot: you no longer have faith in your ability to use your trusted debugger. You are now adding print statements everywhere in your code, in utter disbelief that has come to this. It's you versus the code in a winner-keeps-all battle; you have severe doubts about whether you will solve the problem today, tomorrow, or ever. You committed to the task and don't want to feel you can't do it, but the boat is sinking, and you can't bail the water out fast enough not to go under. Done cooked by this little evil piece of [fill in the blank as you see fit], put a fork in you and served on a platter.

Dear developer, This doesn't have to be the end. Remember, you eat problems like these all day, and this one isn't going to dance on your grave with a victory flag.

Here is some advice. Drop the keyboard and walk away. Do anything but look at this problem. It would help if you did something to get a win. At this moment, you need to remember that you have serious skills. You have been successful as a developer, and you don't quit. 

Honestly, if you are like me, you love to code. So, If you still have to code, learn something new while you are mentally resting from the devil's code waiting for you. Get a win doing something that you enjoy and are good at. 

After you score a win, please find someone who is a good listener. It doesn't matter if they are a fellow coder or not. This person just needs to be a good listener and genuinely care about you. Describe what you are trying to solve in high-level terms to someone else. Don't describe it at the code level unless you want their eyes to glaze over and plead with you to stop. 

Trust me on this one. After all, you tried it your way, and look where that got you. Describe your problem and try using some analogies. Describing your situation to someone else helps you reevaluate your understanding of what's happening in your approach to solving the issue. I am sure you will surprise yourself with new ideas and strategies about your actual problem(s), which will lead you to tackle the beast. But please, please take the break first and get a win doing something else.

Your formula for a breakthrough when you can't solve a coding problem: Take a break + get a win doing something = a fresh perspective and new confidence to go the next round, the little troll guarding the bridge to completion. Repeat as needed because this strategy is a rinse-and-repeat process. If you did not solve the problem after the first round, you probably did make progress, which should fuel you to realize you can follow the same process to get 'it done and win.

This process has saved my bacon so many times in the past, and it can save you, too, and lead to faster breakthroughs and, ultimately, you cracking the whip and taming the beast. Remember. You only lose if you give in. The reward is worth every second of the struggle when you solve your problem. You build grit this way. You prove to yourself that you are still the master at solving problems that come your way.

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