I have found myself doing a lot of soul searching lately in terms of my working life. After bouncing around several jobs my first few years out of college, searching for the elusive “perfect” one, I finally settled into where I am now with a company that I really like. Almost six years later, I am really feeling like I’m at a crossroads and really need to figure out what I want and where I want to be and go and use that to guide my decision making. I’ve long given up on the pursuit of perfection, and am more now just trying to figure out what my preferences are, what is merely tolerable, and what things I am not OK with. All kind of weighty things, I know, especially when it comes to your livelihood. Things are going fine at work, and they seem to be very pleased with the work that I am doing. I’m just not sure of whether this is the best fit for me still.
In talking with another software developer friend today, I was reminded of some words of wisdom from Uncle Bob Martin in his post ‘Whiners that Fail‘ from a couple years back:
“YOU, and NO ONE ELSE, is responsible for your career. Your employer is not responsible for it. You should not depend on your employer to advance your career.”
There is a lot more to it, but that is the main point. I know a lot of people that I work with that would completely disagree with that statement, and in fact, I have found from time to time that I kind of forget it until something happens to bring me back to that realization. I am there to provide a service. And if I get comfortable in what I’m doing and fail to keep up with the rest of the world that keeps on moving outside of the little bubble that I may find myself confined too, then if that bubble were to be burst, I may find a rather ominous gap between where I’m at and where the rest of the industry has moved onto.
From time to time, I get these moments of inspiration, after reading a great blog post or seeing a great speaker, where I get excited again about software development and kind of plan out some rather lofty goal like mastering some new language by doing some enormous project on my own, or something equally outlandish. And then I get discouraged and give up, quickly. My ambition’s archenemy is my current work situation. I don’t get to program that much anymore, and when I do, it’s using rather dated technology and simplistic & frustrating internally-developed frameworks. So my excitement after going to a user group and learning about cool new features in C# 4 gets killed off pretty quickly when I find myself stuck using C# 2 the next day. So I find myself back at square one and stuck in this defeatist loop, and question why I even try. But at least on the bright side, I see myself making a lot more of an effort at least than most of those around me, trying to go to user groups, read up on new things and try out some things in my free time, even if it is very little.
So, ultimately I’m not really sure of the intent of this post other than to get some things off my chest. I guess it is to publicly remind myself of Uncle Bob’s point that I am responsible for my career and I need to start taking that responsibility seriously. Figure out where I’m at, where I want to go, and what I need to do to get there. The same friend I was talking to earlier also mentioned how his manager talked to his team to think of their careers like a stock that would trade on the stock market. And his question to all of them is what are you doing to make your stock price continue to go up? I need to break out of this rut and break out of my bubble and catch back up, and get my stock price back on the rise.