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Analysis Paralysis

A major roadblock on my coding journey has always been Analysis Paralysis. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s the concept of overthinking a decision to the point where no decision can be made, for fear of making the wrong decision. In coding, you’re always making decisions – What operating system, language, framework, database engine, IDE, hosting provider, etc – the list of decisions is endless and this all happens before you even write a single line of code. I’m also guilty of jumping ahead in the learning material – seeing the endgame, and thinking to myself “my god, look at how much thought must have gone into this”. For some people, myself included, this is enough to not even bother starting a project, for the ultimate fear is making the wrong decision somewhere along the way and having to start over.

This is how I’ve found myself constantly searching for things like “php versus python”, or “django versus laravel”, or “sublime text versus vscode”. I literally cannot count the amount of hours I’ve read blog post after blog post where ultimately the answer is always the same “Just pick whatever works best for you”. And, as much as it pains me to say it, this is another one of those blog posts.

The thing is, it really doesn’t matter – if you make the wrong choice, it’s not like lives are at stake. All you’ve lost is some time – but, you’ve also gained some knowledge. Sure if you pick the wrong programming language you may have to switch to the “right” language, but in the end, they’re all the same under the hood. You’re just learning the nuances and syntax of a different language, but most of the core concepts are the same. (or at least similar enough that it doesn’t matter all that much).

It sounds like a cop-out answer and quite honestly I didn’t believe it myself until I tried it. I gave up on the ‘this versus that’ searches and just got down to business. Sure, I had to make some decisions to get to the point of starting down the path, but to be quite honest I wasted a ton of time getting there. I actually ended up with my first choices, because they just felt ‘right’. I’m still early in the journey and things may get a bit dicey, but if I power through I think I’ll be OK. And if not, I’ll just go back to the beginning and learn something else.

One thing that I do want to mention because this is what I feel is most important – whatever you end up doing, make sure there’s a good support ecosystem. If the only manual that exists is a dusty spiral bound book from the 1970’s, that may not be a good first language to learn. Also; when I say support ecosystem I’m talking forums, videos, classes, books – a plethora of at least somewhat current material. Other than that, there’s no wrong choices here. Take it from someone who has read every ‘this versus that’ blog post on the Internet – just pick whatever works best for you.

Author: Greg
Middle-aged father of two - still a kid at heart! Lover of all things geeky, trivia, factoids, craft beers, and procrastination. #SnorlaxIsMySpiritAnimal. #CanadianEh! "I don't know. Fly casual."

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