Why asking what programming language you should learn is the wrong question

Programming languages aren't nearly as important as what you do with them

Almost all beginner developers ask the same question when starting out:

What programming language should I learn in 20XX?

The problem is, that is the wrong question.

Asking about what programming language you should learn, is like an artist asking what they should use to make art. The answer to both questions is it depends on you.

What do you want to create?
Why do you want to create it in the first place?

This post will dive deeper into these questions to give you a clear guide into deciding for yourself what language you should choose.

Know your why

Before you pick a language, you should first think about what you see yourself doing. You want to understand why you are getting into coding in the first place. There are different types of problems to solve and different programming languages are better suited to solving those problems.

So before you think about a specific language you should ask yourself:

  • Do you want to rake in passive income building apps and software products?
  • Do you want to discover the next breakthroughs in Quantum Computing and AI?
  • Do you want to travel the world as a remote developer?
  • Do you want to be a technical content creator that educates and guides developers?
  • Do you just want to solve problems and write code for fun?

Your answer to this question will not only frame the programming language you choose but every other skill that you need to be successful. Once you have a target that you're aiming for, you can then work backwards and figure out what you can do today to make progress on that path.

If you're having a hard time figuring out your vision, that's normal. For some, coming up with a vision can be a surprisingly difficult and time-consuming process.

One trick you can use to make the process easier is to find someone who is doing what you want to do (or close enough) and study them. Google them, read their content, follow them on social media, and watch everything they do.

If you're brave enough, you can reach out to them on social media, email, or the contact form on their website. I actually reached out to a developer when I first got started with web development. That is how I discovered the importance of learning JavaScript early in my career.

If you are having a time thinking too far in the future then the next best thing is to take action and work on projects you are interested in.

Just make something

The other way to figure out what language you should learn is to focus on projects. This is the path for the developers who really have no idea what they want to get into.

By focusing on creating projects, you will discover what you do and don't like about specific development paths. While this path will likely be more time-consuming than discovering your vision, it will also give you more confidence that you are in the right field when you do decide.

Another benefit of this path is you will reinforce the fundamentals of programming languages. Although the syntax will change between languages, the overall concepts remain the same.

By developing projects you will learn exactly what languages to use.

Closing thoughts

No matter what path you take, as long as you are taking consistent action on a path you align with, you will figure out exactly what you need to do over time. Otherwise, I would love to hear more about what inspired you to get into programming!

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