Step 5: Get your priorities straight

By now you should have a focused and complete list of technologies and domains that clearly define the specific career goal you’re aiming for, however, we’re not quite ready to get our hands dirty just yet. Before you can get started, you will need to figure out where the start is. We need to prioritise this list into some sort of order you can follow from top to bottom.

One of the worst things you can do when taking on a new challenge is to set yourself up for a tedious start. It’s far easier to leap over a large obstacle with a bit of momentum, than to attempt it from standing. The order in which you arrange the items on your list should allow you to get started on something relatively familiar, while at the same time optimising the ramp up time required for you to develop a respectable momentum.

For the first iteration over your list, try to rearrange the items in the order of interest you have for them from highest to lowest, then assign each of them an interest level rating out of 10. Having a keen interest in the items you take on first should do wonders for your enthusiasm in getting the process rolling, but they could also set you up for disappointment if they turn out to be less exciting than you expected. This leads us to our next iteration.

For the second iteration, assign each item a rating out of 5 on how much previous experience you’ve had with it. Here is where familiarity enters into the equation. Add both ratings for each item together, and rearrange the list in order of score from highest to lowest.

Lastly, for each group of items that share the same score, move those that have an asterisk to the top of the group, and those that do not to the bottom. If you have any trouble deciding on which order to arrange multiple asterisked and non-asterisked items, prefer interest over experience.

Don’t worry too much about getting your list in perfect order right now, the main objective here is really to determine which items you should begin with. As you work through the list on numerous projects, you may find that a couple of readjustments will be needed along the way. Just remember to enjoy yourself. When in doubt, prioritise tasks that interest you over those that may seem smaller, easier, or more familiar.

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