I turned 40 this year. I've been creating apps, mostly for small companies, since my early 20s starting in PHP. Nowadays I write in F# and sometimes in C#, VB, and JS for older products. For the past couple of jobs, I have made it known that I am not interested in a management path, since I knew it might come into their minds. I do end up with some leadership responsibilities on the team simply due to experience. I probably could be convinced to take a servant-leadership management role which is kinda already what I do as a team lead, but I have less-than-zero interest in participating in a top-down management/bureaucratic structure.
I find nowadays that I am less fascinated by tools. Frankly, writing the same kind of code that I have already written many times before is downright boring. I am more content helping others figure out that challenging bit of code. And solving the business problems in an elegant way, which then informs simpler solutions in code.
I don't get as much code written as my team mates. (Although I do the stuff no one else feels comfortable doing, typically infrastructure and integrations.) But instead the experience I have been blessed to obtain force-multiplies the rest of the team's efforts.
Being in the fast lane is a non-goal for me. My reasoning is this: all the resources in the world won't make a person happy (see lottery winners). And trying to live ever-more-luxuriously is simply concentrating more of the world's limited resources where they aren't needed. (As a dev, I already make enough to take a lot of financial stresses off the table.) There is also the psychological cost: being separated and unrelateable to those around you. You can't trust other people's motives because you know that a part of them is thinking you have "extra" that could benefit them. That's human nature. You just never know if that is 100% or 0.1% of their motivation. As to unrelatable: while you are agonizing over what color your yacht interior should be, your gardener is struggling to afford college for their 4th child. You no longer face problems that most other people face, and after a while you may start losing empathy for them. I'd rather be a "regular" person, not too poor as to be in desperate need, but also not too rich so that I have to be defensive.
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