Abandoning the Pluralsight Learning Challenge


Goodbye to-do list

For the last 9 and a half months I have been on a Pluralsight learning challenge with the aim of completing a new learning path every month.

I have been successful in completing the following learning paths:

January – CompTIA Security+

February – C# Deep Dive

March – JavaScript (original learning path)

April – HTML5

May – Front End Web Development and CSS

June – Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 (Microsoft Exam 70-480)

July – Web Application Development with ASP.NET MVC5

August – Node JS

September – JavaScript (new)

I was on course to complete the Android learning path this month at the time I decided to quit. I feel some regret over quitting quite near the finishing line and so I am writing this to explain why.

This project has been an unpaid second job for me. I have learned a huge amount of things from it, but overall I have found it is often not the most effective use of my time.

I want to free up time to focus on the things that really matter to me. For a long time now there have been many other things that I have wanted to do and been unable to do due to this learning challenge commitment. More quality time with friends and family is what I will enjoy the most.

I will continue to watch and review Pluralsight courses on this blog. I am just abandoning the relentless schedule and the set list of courses.

Blog Improvements

I hope and believe that this blog will benefit from this change of approach. Because I will have more time to write course reviews, the quality of them should improve. I will be able to experiment with things more and offer more original content.

I have found that there is much more interest from readers when I review new releases. For example Building Applications with React and Redux in ES6 was very popular. There have been some other interesting new releases from Pluralsight that I may be able to look at.

I chose the Android learning path to help me with a project I am currently working on.

The course reviews have not been popular, and I think that is mainly because most developers either have little interest in learning Android, and most of those who do already know most of the material in this learning path and want to learn new Android features (e.g. in Nougat).

Variety in learning

Pluralsight is great and everything, but there are many other ways to learn beside it. Most importantly, books provide something that video learning does not. I generally find books get me thinking a lot more than videos do. Allowing more time for reading books is quite important and healthy.

“The most healthy pattern for any developer is to pursue a path that switches between periods of narrow, focused, deep learning, and other periods of broad, shallow, rapid exploration and experimentation.” – Kyle Simpson

Letting go of pride

I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone who has supported me this year. Every poll vote, like, retweet and supportive comment has helped spur me to continue to keep learning rapidly and growing as a software engineer.

The key to the achievements that I have made has been making my commitment public. I have been conscious of this and not wanted to look weak in public by changing direction. Pride is both a massive benefit and a huge hazard.

If you are on course, pride will keep you on it. If you are heading off course, pride will keep you there as well.

The John Sonmez Factor

In the book Soft Skills there’s a particularly good chapter called 10 steps to learning. The most important point is we learn best by doing.

John also has a video where he talks about becoming a multi-specialised. This is what I endeavour to become.

However in order to make a serious claim as a specialist in one area, much more is needed than to have watched a learning path. Having real world experience in a project with that technology counts for much more.

Remembering Hintjens

The story of Hintjens is something that I will not forget and will keep repeating until he becomes the legend that he deserves to be. I do not agree with everything that he has written or said. But he produced some extraordinarily important advice, including:


One example of teamwork: a moving bridge

I am moved to spend less time working in isolation and more time working with others.

Other learning paths worth considering

I will probably continue to complete learning paths. The only difference is those goals are aspirational, not strict deadline driven requirements.

Learning paths such as Ethical Hacking have been something I have wished to do for a long time. Certainly not because I think hacking is cool.

Rather I feel ashamed to work in an industry that commonly ships insecure products. Customers deserve better. WAY better. This is a very important professional and ethical issue.

Attempting to complete the longest learning paths in a single month is beyond brutal and in my opinion very counterproductive.

If you are interested in doing learning paths yourself, my advice is to pick one learning path and a schedule that works for you. This year Pluralsight revised the whole learning path system and it has been generally improved. Take a look through the newer list of learning paths advertised at https://www.pluralsight.com/product/paths

Have I failed?

This is a matter of opinion. You could either view it as a failure or as a process optimization.

In my developer on fire interview I talk about how blurry the line between success and failure is, and how I define success as an attitude rather than a result. I hold on to that opinion strongly.

The most important lesson I have learned this year is the importance of Valued Living. Live your life according to your values, and let your values determine your goals, not vice versa.

Continuous learning remains one of my values, and this is why I am continuing to learn with Pluralsight.

Further Reading

Giving Up or Not

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