Well hello there my friend!
Welcome back to another article.
This one is a little more meta than the previous ones.
Tell me if any of the following sounds familiar...
You've been learning to code for a few years already and have been putting in the reps to make it a habit. You've become good enough at it to the point that you've found a well-paying job as a developer (frontend, backend, etc..)
Coding became your way of life and you've enjoyed it so much that you not only do it as part of the day job but work on projects of your own, or open-source ones.
The weekends became a time to hack away at those projects or talk about new ideas with your developer friends.
There were so many cool things to learn and do that you felt like a kid in a candy store and didn't think you'll be doing anything else differently for the foreseeable future.
But then at some point, that drive and enthusiasm started to wane and little by little it wore off. It now felt as if the "honeymoon phase" has come to an end and reality has set in.
Now even with holidays and days off, there's a feeling of apathy that lingers on.
A lot of possible different explanations can come to your head but the fact stays the same: You've lost that spark that was there once...
If you have felt any of that before, then you're in the right place.
We're gonna talk about some ways that you can get back on track, stretch those dev muscles and build your skills in this industry.
So, let's get started shall we?
How did we get here?
There are several ways that we could have ended up in a situation like this. Even though some may have been avoidable and others not, some were just due to pure luck (or lack thereof)
In general, what's important is to recognize if we have arrived at this place or are soon to be.
Something people could say is "well, that's called burnout and it's because you haven't been taking enough rest or taking care of yourself"
And yes.... but no. Burnout is when you are overworked (either because of your job or because you're trying to do many things at once) and get to a point when you don't want to do anything else.
You just want to take a month-long (or sometimes more) vacation and do things completely unrelated to tech.
And that's an extreme case that many of us have already experienced before (and some are unfortunately going to).
This particular scenario I'm talking about is different because it doesn't involve extremes. It's more an ongoing thing and manifests itself in different ways for different people.
Sometimes we judge ourselves because of our lack of performance, lack of motivation, and not being "productive enough".
Other times we do it because we're doing too much and just want to take some time off to do other stuff but we seem to not be able to find the time.
Something else that happens is that we can find some things that interest us and give us that sense of curiosity while other things just bore us completely. And this is talking within the "tech realm".
It might be because we let ourselves get caught in the monotony of things and are just doing work on autopilot now.
We are "going through the motions" of a normal routine and even the time off that we can have feels part of all the 'sameness' around.
So there's something going on here but we can't quite put our finger on what it is.
But fear not, we're not just going to talk about the issue and leave it like that.
That has no use and honestly if we're just describing problems and nothing more...
Regardless of the situation, we're now going to talk about solutions.
Actions and practical things you can do if you feel like you have fallen from the horse and can't seem to get back on it.
Getting back on track
For this case, I'm not going to just talk about my own experience and pretend that it will help you because you're in the exact same position I've been.
I have enlisted the help and advice of some of my very experienced developer friends to give you a different perspective on the subject.
So with that being said...
Let's see what they have to tell us about it.
I’m quite known for job-hopping in tech, generally due to companies not wanting to keep up to date with new tech or even update versions.
I also stop performing well in those companies the motivation is just gone and nothing gets done, even though it should be easier.
Not saying you should always jump on the bandwagon of new tech, but there is a sweet spot of adopting and developer happiness.
Here, Chris mentions an important point.
Keeping the balance between jumping on the bandwagon of what's 'new' and 'shiny' and staying with what's tested and proven. Also, the environment plays an important part on the happiness and motivation part of the equation.
It has happened a couple of times to me. Usually a fairly big change was needed, such as changing teams, programming languages (that's how I started learning Rust) or even jobs.
Roland says something important that's not usually talked about. When the excitement wears off and there's nothing that seems to help, a big change is what's necessary to shake us out of the monotony and push us out of the comfort zone.
It doesn't always have to be something as radical as quitting the job. It can be changing the team, the project, or the role in that company and find other areas where we can also be good at.
I got tired of working as a developer a couple of times in my career, and I had some burnouts as well...
On the first half of my career, I never took any paid time-off. This is very unhealthy. I would just burnout and jump from one job to another. I would never allowing myself to stop, never had the space to think about what I really wanted out of life.
And to be completely honest, it's because I didn't know how to relax and enjoy time-off. I was always thinking about the next big thing, the next step to take.
It's very easy to be sucked into the tech vortex and feel like you have to learn everything, read hacker news every day, learn all the new tools... This is so exhausting.
I think this is what causes information overload and stress. Not having any other hobbies that don't involve technology... When all your friends are developers and all they talk about is tech...
Thiago made some really great points (and his reply was long enough that I can write an entire post out of it...)
My top takeaways from here (and it's something he puts into words better than I did) are.
Not taking any paid time-off initially. We're so motivated and full of energy that we don't think we need a break. We're just thinking on the next big thing and what can we take on next.
Not knowing how to relax and enjoy the time-off. This one is related to the previous point. I know for sure that "free time" normally stresses me more than having something to do because I just can't get my brain to shut down and not think about projects, work, or anything related.
Getting caught into the tech vortex. This is what happens when we don't have hobbies, friends or even life outside of coding and tech. The ideal would be that we all would be more well-rounded people instead of machines that can crank out code very well most of the time.
Oh, and in case you were wondering what I have done as well in that situation, here it is. (And if you weren't that's fine too 😜 )
Whenever I feel that lingering feeling of hopelessness and that what I'm doing is not being worthwhile, I have to take some time to re-focus and re-assess where it's that I wanted to go.
I go back to reading my reasons to be where I am at and knowing that I have been intentional with my choices the future outcome will happen as long as I keep the fundamentals in place and take care of myself.
I can only be helpful to others if I'm having all my stuff in order. Also, I leverage my other interests outside of tech to give me that motivation boost that I have been missing there because as the saying goes "a rising tide lifts all the boats"
Whether you have experienced this situation before, haven't yet and don't want it to happen to you, or want to know what to do if you feel like you are getting into it.
I hope this has been beneficial to you and has shed some light on this strange and difficult-to-understand matter.
We are very prone to fall into not very useful routines often, so it's good to have someone to help us get out of the rut and see things from a different perspective to keep moving forward in the path that we want.
That's it for this post. If you have read so far, I appreciate you. Thanks for your time and attention.
If you have questions or comments, shoot them my way here and let's talk about it.
Take care my friend. Talk again in the next post!