New year, new me. Well, not quite.

I’ve got some of the usual lifestyle goals on the cards for 2016. Eat paleo, go running, read more books and get up an hour earlier. Etc. More sleep and less coffee before bed would be good too.

But most importantly, I’m starting a new tech challenge. I’m learning Angular.js. After poking around the internet for good beginner tutorials, I decided to start with this one from Code School.

It’s a well-structured course that includes decent challenges and has a personable instructor. He explains not just the syntax but also the concepts. And he does it in an easily-graspable way.

From past experience I’ve learned that picking up something new in tech can be unpredictable. Sometimes you’ll understand right away. At other times, that first tutorial can feel like it just flew straight over your head, with nothing sticking around inside. That was me after watching part one of the Code School Angular.js tutorial set, just a few days ago.

I’ve developed a couple of coping strategies for this all-too-common situation.

  1. Don’t freak out because you don’t understand at first. In fact, EXPECT it to happen. It’s not a negative comment on your intelligence or your abilities. Tech can be a steep learning curve and you’re doing well even attempting to learn it.

  2. Keep watching, reading, and copying until the syntax and layout stick in your mind. Write out all code from the tutorial. Don’t just copy paste. When the look and feel of the code become more familiar, how the pieces work together will start to make sense. I find this approach helps me to develop a higher-level overall grasp of concepts.

  3. As soon as you have a glimmer of confidence, go off-roading. Try a simple project of your own and post it up on GitHub. For Angular.js, my goal on finishing this tutorial series is to create a basic email sign-up form for the one-page site I put together the other day. I like the continuity of doing it this way. Added bonus: potential employers get to see more of your stuff on GitHub.

  4. Find additional tutorials about your topic to back up your understanding, especially if there’s something you can’t get your head around at first. What seems unclear in one tutorial might become a Eureka moment in another. There’s plenty of material out there. That’s one of the beauties of the tech world.