Over the last 2 years, I have been actively learning data science. It has been a very nice journey of learning and acquiring skills that have enabled my work on different projects. In this article, I would like to share some tips on how you can be consistent and motivated in learning data science. I will be sharing from my own personal journey.
As I write this, I am quite aware of moments that I have almost felt like giving up. I have had moments when it seems as though there is very little motivation to keep learning. But, I have still managed to keep learning, day after day.
So, how have I managed to do this and how can you keep motivated as you learn? It is also important to note that learning is a lifelong process.
Even for the experienced data professionals and AI experts, there are things they keep learning for them to remain productive and relevant in this field. Data science is highly evolving and so are tools and skills to be learned.
How to be consistent in learning data science
Building consistency needs motivation. Staying motivated is a great thing in practicing any discipline. Discipline is usually associated with hard work, determination, and sometimes pain. However, if well maintained, its benefits are pleasant. I would compare this to studying data science.
The process is sometimes overwhelming. As a broad field, there are so many things to be learnt. From statistics, programming, math, to many tools that are needed in data science, the field can sometimes be intimidating. But there is a lot of joy in seeing yourself grow your skills from time to time.
You have probably seen the kind of skills that a data scientist needs to have. Or maybe you have seen learning paths that have been designed by different people to explain a curated path to being a data scientist. Or maybe you have come a cross articles of people sharing how they became data scientists in 3 months or so. Some of them sound very impractical.
These and many more, confront us from time to time as we work towards building our skills in data science. Here are 4 things that can help you remain consistent and motivated in learning data science:
1. Be clear about your passion to do data science
If you are desiring to do data science or you have just started learning, it is important to be clear about your passion for data science and why you want to do it. Take time to think through the reasons as to why you want to start and build your career in data science.
What are the motivating factors? This will help you remain motivated even when the journey becomes difficult. This clarity is important for your data science journey.
As I considered joining data science, I reflected a lot about my career. What do I want to do? What makes me tick? I had a lot of love for math since it was my major in undergraduate studies. I also did some research to understand what data science entails and what data scientists actually do.
What fascinated me a lot was discovering how much data could be used to impact the world and to tell beautiful stories. This helped in shaping my perspective towards getting into a new field.
The principle here is, know what you want to do and be clear about it.
2. Set the right goals and focus on them
Learning data science is a marathon. As long as you are in the field, you will have to brace yourself for a life long journey of learning new skills, tools and concepts. Because of this, you need to plan your learning journey in a way that will keep you motivated. It is important to have the big picture in mind in terms of what you want to be and then break it down to small milestones with small goals to help you achieve them.
Set goals and focus on them. Let them act as compass as you navigate your learning journey. Setting small specific goals is important since it makes you structure your learning in small bits that eventually helps you achieve them. Divide your time to accommodate the goals sufficiently. Each and every day, have some time to learn something, however little it might be. Learn gradually.
For instance, if you want to understand data wrangling, you will need to understand the little steps that help in data wrangling. You will need to know how to import your data, how to display data in a data frame, etc. before you dive into wrangling the data to gain insights. These little steps are the building blocks to understanding more complex concepts.
As part of your goals, plan to do small projects with the skills you have learnt. It is important and motivating to see that the skilled you learnt in theory can be translated into working on a practical project. It doesn’t have to be a complex project. Just identify small projects that can help you hone your skills as you keep learning.
In addition to that, remember to celebrate the little milestones. If you have been trying to learn a concept and you have understood it and applied it practically in your projects or exercises, celebrate!
The little milestones will keep you motivated and longing to dive even deeper into learning. Do not wait for that big achievement you are thinking about for you to celebrate. Keep your spirits high by celebrating the small beginnings.
3. Don’t compare yourself with other people
Many people have joined the data profession and a number of them are doing amazing things there. You have probably seen people posting their achievements on social media and felt like you wish it were you doing that. Or maybe you have met with people who are doing well in data science and have done some cool projects that left you intimidated. This has happened to me so many times.
I have witnessed tremendous achievement from people that have left me wondering whether I will ever get there. This pressure can be daunting. It has the potential to make you start comparing yourself to other people, feel sorry for yourself or even worse think that you can never do that.
When these things happen, one thing we often miss is that even such people were once where we are. They travelled the journey of learning and hard work to be able to gain such skills and get such opportunities. So, it is just a matter of time. Be patient with yourself, enjoy the learning journey and keep your head and mind off such pressure.
Everyone has a story to tell in their data science journey. Tell your story! Be proud of what you are able to do and celebrate that. Let the achievements of people inspire you to work hard but do not let them lower your self-esteem as far as data science is concerned.
Comparing yourself can also make you lose focus in your learning and start moving from one thing to another in pursuit for fulfillment. This will finally lead you to a dead end. Stay focused and chart your path consistently.
4. Be patient with yourself
To be consistent in learning data science, you need to be patient with yourself. People are gifted differently and so they learn differently. Some people take a short time to understand concepts while others have to work on them a little longer to understand them. This is OK. Take your time and learn.
Do not be under pressure to be a skilled data scientist after a certain period of time. Do not kill your motivation by giving yourself unrealistic timelines. If you are not able to master a skill as quickly as you thought possible, keep learning until you understand it.
You need to have a sense of self-awareness as far as your learning is concerned. You can change your learning strategy if need be but do not be discouraged. If you apply for a data science role and you get a rejection, learn from the experience and keep on trying.
I have had to work extra hard to master some concepts in SQL. These are things I thought were so easy but then I realized that I needed more time to understand them.
I have to strategize, get more materials, and spend more time understanding those concepts. It might take longer, but I better understand them than to lose hope and drop them completely or be frustrated.
I hope those 4 points will help you stay motivated and consistent in learning data science. There are many other things you can do, but I think the four have their critical part in helping you be consistent in your learning. If you are in self-paced learning, consider reading this article. Happy learning.