When to ask for help?

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tl;dr: now.

Hand emerging from the water, representing hope

I have a problem. Actually, I have lots of problems, but I want to talk about how I knew I needed help on a specific one, what I did and how I’ve solved it.

1. Admit you have a problem

This step is strongly linked with the second step, but this one messes with your ego.

When you're doing something and you have the same result, repeatedly, in most cases it means that you are either doing it right all the times, or doing it wrong all the times.

When you have a result that is not what you were expecting, with less quality or that doesn't make you happy, it means you might have a problem. You just need to accept it, and go to the next step.

If you don't accept you have a problem, then you'll be retrieving your bad results until you want to change.

2. Recognizing the problem

This is the hardest part, so that's why most of us drop without even being aware that we have a problem. When the toughest comes first, is way easier to ignore, or just let it go and accept to live with it for the rest of your life/career.

My problem: I was going to apply for a new job and I was never confident about my skills as a developer, I've always thought (and still think) I am a below-the-average programmer. But that's a topic for another article.

So, whenever I was in a process for a job overseas and I could manage to get to the tech interview - usually the 2nd or 3rd step on a job interview process - as soon as I had to code, I started to panic. It doesn't matter what was the problem, the subject or the question. I started to sweat and panicked.

The reason: I started to think about everything I'd have to sell, to buy, to solve, about family, friends, a fresh start, a new language, absolutely everything crossed my mind in a matter of seconds. That was the moment I started to sabotage myself.

3. Ask for help

Once you know you have a problem, and you have mapped what triggers it so you can recognise it, it is time to start solving it. And you can only do it by asking for help.

The best way to do it, is to ask for someone who probably faced something really similar to what you're trying to solve. In my case, I needed to talk to someone who already faced an equivalent cycle of interviews, who lives in another country and faced all difficulties and obstacles throughout the whole process.

So, I've talked with a few (6) people. Some I took to a lunch, some to bars, some I told I was looking for help, and some I just engaged a conversation about it so I could gather piece by piece and solve my mind's jigsaw . Some of these people even reviewed this article, so I really am grateful for your help.

4. Get over it

This step, once I've mapped everything, was the easiest. In my case, I got to apply for every single job offer I could find online, and began to work on my skills. The good thing is: you don't have to go to the company if you pass all the tests. No deal is closed until you sign it.

On this try-catch game of interviews, what if you see something really interesting and, instead of just trying, you really want to go on with it? It depends only on you, once you have nothing to lose. Even if you don't make it, you'll improve for the next attempt.

Value yourself. Treat yourself. Be who you want to be, and you will.