Sunday, February 10, 2008

On Perseverance

So, I'm pretty sure I've mentioned I've been working on a website for a new client. It's a pretty straightforward website, and I thought it would've been done ages ago. But the holidays came around. Then, my client said he wanted a basic contact form added to the site.

I should mention that when I started this project, I hadn't done any HTML work since the hi-tech days. I had never before done something like a form. On top of all this, the software I've used was brand new to me, so I was also on a learning curve for that.

The form dogged me. It would almost seem to work. The book I bought to help me with the software did not help. I asked some friends, but they didn't have the knowledge to help me. I looked on the web for tutorials. I posted on web forums, asking help from other people. I tried any number of possible solutions, and still nothing worked.

To say I was frustrated was an understatement. I spent hours on the form. The project is fee-based, and this form has destroyed my hourly earnings to smithereens. At times, I was ready to cry. I swore at the software, and I swore at people who put form generators, code samples or video tutorials online with incomplete instructions.

Eventually, by the grace of an internet forum and a guy in the UK, I figured out the form yesterday. I was so accustomed to seeing the form fail that I had to look twice when it succeeded. It turned out that a simple letter made the difference. I simply changed the filename extension, and the form magically worked.

Now, it will take me maybe five minutes to add a form to a website.

I was ready to give up. I'd given myself to the end of this weekend to figure it out, or I was going to shamefully go to the client (who knew I'd been having difficulties) and say I couldn't finish the form. That would have been anathema to me, but I really thought I'd never figure it out. Yet, as the guy who helped me wrote: "it proves that if you keep plugging away, you finally get there."

What the guy in the UK said has stayed with me, and I've re-realized the depth of its truth. There were times when I thought that my freelancing days were numbered. Yet I persevered, doing the best job I could, and that impressed my initial client so much that he often gives me high praise and recently agreed to a notable rate increase for me. My talk of my work with my first client impressed my second client enough for him to hire me without seeing any of my portfolio pieces. In the face of the web form, I kept my faith in myself and persevered against the challenge, and I triumphed.

Just like I used to accept what seemed to be the default of how my life would be lived, I often used to think I would never be out of debt. Sure, I was very optimistic when I started my finance (aka crack) spreadsheet and my aggressive debt eradication plan. There were other times when I wasn't so optimistic, and thought about just going back to the minimum payment repayment plan, or "well, I have enough to go back to Argentina and live there for a few months. Why not?" Yet, I continued with my plan and persevered, and I've eradicated 40+% of my debt so far. If I'd given up, I wouldn't be where I am today (and my client for this website would probably not give me any further projects).

Because I persevered with the web form challenge, I can proudly approach this client tomorrow, and say "I figured it out. I did it!" Then, I will collect the rest of the project fee.

It makes me look forward to Monday.

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