Hey there brave self-learner!
First of all, I would like to insist upon how brave you are. Teaching yourself <some X> can be difficult, draining and frankly, quite a lonely process sometimes.
Second, don't loose hope if you can't seem to learn using MOOCs. Not many people can teach themselves that way. In fact, a study of edX courses suggests that MOOCs haven't democratised education like you might think they have.
Some people can only learn by engaging in more hands-on ways of teaching. Embrace that. So, instead of searching for a relevant project after you learn something, it might be better for you to start with a project and learn everything you need to to bring that project to life.
This is where repl.it can prove to be of tremendous help. And not just with its ability to get your environment set up in a few seconds but also with its community building efforts. I find the share section on Repl.it talk and the challenge section on Repl.it talk really helpful in letting me discover some cool, doable project ideas. And isn't getting cool project ideas the narrowest bottleneck that prevents you from building stuff yourself?
Third, as you work on teaching yourself, don't ignore the importance of keeping yourself motivated. I would suggest 3 systems that will help you learn X when your physical environment won’t —
- Make serious efforts to fall in love with <X> before you try to learn it
- Create and be in an environment that motivates you
- Incentivize yourself to push through the nitty-gritties of learning X
Make serious, conscious efforts to find reasons to become obsessed with X. Remember that you can turn, what is perhaps the most negative aspect of social media — an addictive and infinitely scrollable feed — and use it to your advantage. Also remember that building something that seems cool and interesting is a great way to trick yourself into learning X with dedication.
I have more pointers and tips about the Difficulties with self-learning and 3 systems to solve them here.