Developers, It's Okay to Be Lost

Developers, It's Okay to Be Lost

by Jason Lewis on Oct 27, 2019

SITE NAME CHANGE: Hi there, this is just a quick note to explain why the site name seems to have changed. I've decided that my personal domain of Gecko8 wasn't nearly descriptive enough. I want to cover not just code, but how to make our lives better as developers. With that goal in mind, I feel Life And Code is a better choice. I hope you agree!

I truly believe we've all been there in our careers at one point or another. Either you've been at the same job too long, you've specialized in an area that is no longer in demand, or something happens at work to change your perspective. I've recently found myself in just such a position, ready to move on but not knowing what I want to do or where I want to go. I won't get into details but let's just say the culture wasn't what it used to be. The problem was, I was feeling a bit jaded about the typical corporate environment so looking at job postings was downright exhausting.

If life were easy, it wouldn't be difficult - Kermit the Frog

There Is No Silver Bullet

I'm going to be totally up-front here, I'm not here to tell you how to fix it. The fix will be different for everyone since we're all in very different situations. And honestly, I'm still working through it myself.

It's Okay

What I am here to tell you is that it's okay. As I said, most if us find ourselves here at one time or another. I say most because I assume there are a rare few that have had charmed careers where they've always been in a great environment, doing what they love, and getting paid huge sums of money for it. Without that belief, we wouldn't have something to strive for, right?

Take Your Time

The most important thing I've discovered from my recent career dark time was that you can't rush into any decisions. The decisions we make on the spur of the moment have a good chance of not being the best ones. Now naturally, if you find yourself out of work with a huge mortgage, 5 car payments, and 8 kids to feed (maybe I'm exaggerating a bit but who knows) you may have to make a quick decision to keep your head above water and that's okay too. But keep your eye on the big picture and keep looking for the better solution. Let's take a step back for a sec, I think that quick decision is worth revisiting.

There's Nothing Wrong With a Quick Fix

A couple of times in my own career I've found myself looking for work when I didn't have the greatest skillset available. I remember one particular time when I had tons of C++ experience and everyone was looking for 5+ years of Java experience. Never mind that Java had only been a big THING for about 3 years. HR departments just do what they're told! So what did I do? I took a job selling computer equipment which it turned out, was actually pretty fun! More importantly, it bought me the time to wait for that next big opportunity. Which, incidentally, came from one of my regular customers at the computer dealer. I also found working a regular job for fixed hours per day gave me time to reflect and polish my dev skills.

What I'm trying to say is, it's okay to step outside the development field to put food on the table and just plain give yourself a break. Just don't forget you're a developer and stop looking for that next big break. That's assuming you don't discover something you'd rather do. In which case, great job! Go after it with everything you have! But maybe think it through first.

Bad Times Can Be A Good Thing

Sad Woman

What? That doesn't make sense! Oh, but it does, bear with me. The best thing that came out of my recent bad times was self discovery. I came to the realization that I was totally dependent on my employer for my security and happiness. Even if you have the best employer in the world, things can change quickly. Maybe the company enters a tight period and the only way to stay afloat is to "lighten the load". Maybe they get bought up by another company that wants to bring on their own people. Or maybe a new manager is brought on that changes the culture in a negative direction.

What Do I Do?

Remember when I said I wasn't going to tell you how to fix it? That's still true. What I am here to say is that it's okay. But most importantly, take your time to look at your situation, how you got there, and how best to move forward.