DEV Community

Cover image for A Frame Of Reference
Jon Douglas
Jon Douglas

Posted on

A Frame Of Reference

Being a software professional for a living is a bit like driving at night. You can only see as far ahead as your headlights. Whether that's your next move in your career, the next language/framework trend, or the industry shifting direction, relevancy hits us like a truck.

One thing I like to keep near me on my desk is a picture of my daughter and wife, they help me remind myself of the life I want. Whenever I'm thinking about the next thing I should work on, no matter how big or small, I take a look at this picture frame and I'm reminded of my why and figure out my next steps as I go.

As I'm tackling my next steps, I'm doing it one step at a time. I like to remind myself that there is a small amount of people who know what they are actually doing. Those who really know what they're doing, have already done it before and know what works for them. For me, taking that first step is the most intimidating. It sets my compass in a direction where I want to thrive in.

I know that the first iteration of this next thing is typically my shitty first iteration. This is where I let every idea pour out on paper regardless of how bad or good the idea is. I simply want to exhaust myself of ideas so it's easier to focus on the actual work to be done.

It's taken me many years to become comfortable with this. I'm finally at the point where I know that no one will see this work, and I can shape it later. Everything good begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere, and you can start today by doing something...anything...and just being okay that it exists although it's not perfect.

The main obstacle between you and your shitty first iteration is perfectionism. Perfectionism will stop you completely in your tracks. It will ruin your code, block your inventiveness, kill your creativity, and ultimately your life. Perfectionism is our mechanism to prevent ourselves from getting hurt or disappointed.

Perfectionism is a hard thing to conquer. You'll want to make sure you've tied every loose end before shipping something to the public eye. Just know that once you get comfortable with the gift of imperfection, then you truly conquer it.

Jon Douglas writes at, where he writes about better habits, deep work, software development, and improved health for Software Professionals. You can read his articles or join his free newsletter for new content every week.

This article was originally published on

Top comments (0)