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The Stoic Developer
The Stoic Developer

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How to Live a Meaningful Developer Life

I have many years of experience as a developer and enough money to live by. I want to make something useful and fulfilling with my time and skills.

What I expect with this post

  • to learn from your feedback and experiences
  • to motivate developers into setting their hearts on something more than just retiring and ignoring all your years of experience
  • maybe to connect with some of you, so we can work together to realize some of these ideas
  • to push me out of my safe zone and giving these topics more attention

Some things about me

  • I'm 38 years old
  • I have 17 years of professional experience
  • I live a frugal life, only need money for basic needs
  • I like helping out developers less experienced than me
  • I like to code
  • I have a good job, but I'm feeling burned out of being just a cog in the machine
  • I don't have kids and have a lot of free time, whenever I'm not working overtime
  • I like to explain things using bullet points :-)

What I'm brainstorming about

Working for free

  • contributing to open source
  • it is OK to do charity / social work
  • but money is a measure of success

At the beginning of my career, I never thought about giving back to the community. Seventeen years ago open source was not as hot as it is now, but mostly I was just worried about learning what was required to get the job done. Later, I never seemed to have a bug I needed to be fixed so bad that I would spend my time fixing it.

I'm open to giving my time for free for charity projects, but I never found one where my skills are needed. I'm not a "create me a website" kind of guy.

Other than these cases, there is a saying "when you work for free you are worth as much as you are paid". The less somebody pays, the less they appreciate you.

Leveraging my talents

  • I know best practices, unit testing, agile, many tech stacks
  • do I want to create niche websites and live-off ads?

Nothing wrong with gaining money through ads, but it doesn't sound satisfying to me. I am curious about how much I could earn though.

I think most of what I learned in all these years are things that I like, but perhaps I'm just used to them. I enjoy the problem-solving and creativity aspects of software development. Looking through thousands of lines of log and fixing other people's bad code, no.

Teaching the next generation

  • the basics: not enough intellectual challenge
  • advanced stuff: only if in a work environment, not a classroom
  • online classes, ebooks: too much of these already

I've tried teaching people with very little skill, and it was a drag. Unless you're dealing with an exceptional learner or maybe a friend or family member, it is not worth my time.

As for more advanced stuff, this is something I've always done. When somebody doesn't know something, I "teach".

I feel there are enough quality places to learn online already, I don't see myself doing something better right now.

Following my passions

  • sharing about my experiences in the tech industry
  • becoming a fictional book writer, one of my lifetime dreams
  • writing about philosophy and living a good life

This might sound too generic, but programming is one of my passions. This is basically the blogger's path. Learn something, share something.

Naturally, my life isn't just about programming. I'm a lover of knowledge, therefore philosophy, and I find reality too boring, hence I like fiction.

Founding a business with like-minded people

  • I'm a tech guy, bureaucracy/marketing are not things I aspire to do
  • hiring experienced developers is hard, focus on teaching junior developers
  • look for people who love programming
  • no employees, only partners, everyone is a real owner, profit share
  • focusing on the local economy, no cutting costs by outsourcing

I don't want to spend time on things I might be able to do, but don't like. Partnering up is the way to go, as much as I like flying solo.

I've been a part of many hiring processes, the best programmers are usually already well-employed. Helping to shape the career of young developers is in line with my teaching goals.

I know this sounds a bit naive, but I want to find people who like code as much as I do. Variable/bonus compensation is nothing new, but I want to make clear I'm not just after employees, I want colleagues and to make new friends.

I'm not against outsourcing, but profit is not the end goal in this stage of my life.

Becoming an angel developer/co-founder

  • finding promissory projects with people struggling with the technical aspects
  • helping with the MVP, team formation, and then moving on
  • keeping myself available as a long time consultant
  • putting my foot on as many projects as I can
  • maybe I will fall in love with one idea and stay full time

This seems easier than the previous idea. I would get a taste of all the stages required to launch a successful, or not, business. This might be a lot of work though, but it seems like a valuable experience.

Don't commit to just one project, trying out the field until something resonates with me. And if it doesn't, not a problem, it is still aligned with my goals of helping out other people in the industry.

Finding a better job

  • some people are leaving Google/Facebook to work on their own
    • so this might not be an ultimate goal in life
  • money in, money out: the more money I make, the more people I can help
  • don't just make more money at the expense of my soul

I still have more juice in me. Although I mentioned people leaving the companies many of us consider the top in the industry, I'm sure some plan to die working there, because they love it.

I have a very narrow experience switching companies, for one thing, it is a very laborious process. Perhaps I should give another one a go before giving up traditional employment.

Will I be leaving my job?

Probably not right now, but for the first time in years I'm back into considering it. I have many reasons to keep working where I am right now:

  • the team is great, and they count on me
  • the company is amazing overall, they have the best of intentions
  • I'm in a good position, being one of the seniors earns me some respect
  • I'm loyal to the bone, in 17 years, I worked for 2 companies, and I just left the first one due to cutting costs
  • yes, it is more comfortable to stay where I am in maintaining a big and complex software I know everything about. This also makes me feel more needed here.

But I do want to have a plan mapped out in case things continue to not go my way. My health is at stake here, working overtime for too long messes up my sleep, and then everything falls apart after that.

I will keep expanding on the ideas I mentioned here. I already contribute to open source, and I am trying to write more in order to share what I know.

It remains to be seen if I will delve into the entrepreneur route or just go for another job if I ever quit my current one.

Thanks for listening to me.

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