3 Things I Learned From Finishing My First Solo Passion Project
Recently I learned a lesson that many people know.
The closer you get to finishing a project.
The longer it seems to take.
Over the summer I started work on a project that merges Apple’s ARKit and Google’s GVR software. I naively thought that I would be able to finish it in about 3 weeks even though I had no prior experience with Unity, Blender, or the two SDKs mentioned above. Even so, I created a very tight time frame for completing my project thinking that I would be able to finish it in time.
Unsurprisingly, I was wrong.
I ended up spending about a month longer than I had planned, barely managing to create a somewhat acceptable product. While I might not be happy about how long it took to finish, I have to admit that completing my first passion project taught me some valuable lessons about working on something by yourself for the first time.
1. Your Time Frame is Incorrect
When jumping into something new for the first time, many people seem to overestimate their ability to complete it. I am a huge culprit of this, as every time I start in on something new, I think that I can learn and more importantly understand the topic in hours rather than the days or weeks that it normally takes. While it seems like common sense, people often forget that when trying to learn something brand new, you don’t know anything, which means that there is no way you can know who long something is going to take.
My project slowly evolved from taking days, to weeks, to months before I was able to finally complete it, and I think this means something. Rather than trying to set a time frame to learn a new skill or create a new product, it would be more effective to just work and let it take however long it does. This seems to be a mistake, as it is important to set deadlines and hold yourself accountable, but, if you're really passionate about finishing a project it will get done. Doing this allows for time to really dive deep into a topic, to become knowledgable without feeling guilty for not actively contributing to the greater end goal. If I was to start a personal project again, I would not have a deadline because if your working for the sake of learning, time is not of the essence.
2. Detours Are Okay
While this may be something that I personally hate, the detours that I took throughout my project turned out to be highly valuable. Now, this doesn’t apply to every project, but it does apply to ones where learning is the end goal. During my VRKit project, I spend numerous hours exploring seemingly unrelated concepts and trying out new ideas that I ended up dropping days later, but this is okay. By doing this you not only learn what not to do, but you gain a new perspective on what to do and why.
Because I was working with Unity for this project I was able to learn all sorts of new information about the way in which the program worked. This knowledge proved imminently valuable as the project progressed; things that I thought would be irrelevant helping me to complete parts of the project in a new and more effective way. By taking detours in a personal project you prove that you are doing it in order to learn and get better, as it is the knowledge that you gain from a variety of different experiences that helps you to improve.
3. Finishing Inspires Confidence
There is a whole lot to say on this one, but anyone who has finished a personal project before knows that there is really no other feeling like being able to step back and say “I’ve finished”. In completing a project for yourself, you are able to prove that you really can do it and that you are capable of creating something that you are proud of. This feeling, for me anyway, ends up carrying into other areas of life as well, because you can look back and say “if I finished that I can finish this”. For those who are still working on completing something, do it if not to make yourself feel better; to inspire you in other areas of life.
So while it's not much, and definitely not anything new, there really are some things that can be learned from completing something for yourself. I hope you enjoyed my rambling thoughts on project conclusions and I wish you look in your own projects as well.
My Tired Brain