Six Months of Commits01 Nov 2015
Six months ago I started a challenge for myself. I wanted to contribute to open source software, a task that I had previously thought out of reach and intimidating. A plan that I had devised to overcome this mindset was to achieve consistency. For a full year, I made a commitment to make at least one commit to an open source repository (someone else’s or my own) every single day. Additionally, I decided to write an article every Sunday about either my projects, my journey, or something interesting I encountered along the way.
To be honest, I did not give my original goal all that much thought. I primarily was making a hypothesis: “If I just keep doing something, chances are that I will improve”.
Looking back, I believe that I have improved. How much I have improved has been hard to measure, but the journey itself has helped me understand the real value I was gaining. However, only after reflecting on my progress could I really understand that there was an at all.
Routines and patterns enable unintentional autopilot. The drive to work, the morning coffee run, even the same weekly meeting are examples of every day life patterns. Can one really distinguish between their commute last Wednesday versus the previous? When our brain does the same thing over and over, it automatically optimizes itself. We forget the details about our days and what distinguishes them from one another. This year of commits project has been no different. Since I have been writing software every single day, I find myself with another daily pattern.
I am lucky that this project exists in a world where history is king. From Github to Google, I have the ability to rewind time and watch my journey step by step. While some days have been lighter than others, the overall picture is clear: This has been one of the best things I have done for my professional development and my state of mind. I might have not noticed this development unless I took my own advice: to stop to take a moment.
There have been a number of surprises during the last six months. A few commits were done right at the wire, racing against midnight. Others felt like they took the entire day to complete. Additionally, I have experienced a few very hard times. Days that sapped all motivation for writing code. But so far, I have not missed a single day. I think that if I had missed one day, it would be simple to miss multiple. For now, I am still in a streak which is helpfully demonstrated on Github. Internalizing this perseverance has been crucial.
Repeat actions build confidence. I remember at the onset of this project, the first pull request that I did to a new repository had me literally shaking. I must have read each commit message text twenty times before pressing the “Open Pull Request” button. Now, with many pull requests successfully merged, the previous anxiety has vanished. Confidence in the correct quantities can be extremely powerful. This confidence has helped me develop my technical skills and has been instrumental for receiving feedback and criticism.
A person who I hold in high regard recently said they found my effort inspiring. I never intended for this endeavor to yield glory or admiration; but, few things are more motivating than hearing kind words of encouragement. To know that I have not been shouting in a dark room and that my effort has meant something feels amazing.
To all the people who have been supportive and hopefully will continue to do so, you are the reason that I am gaining so much out of this experience. You are the reason I will continue this path forward. You are the reason I will complete a Year of Commits.