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Daniel Wallen
Daniel Wallen

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The Power of Purpose (Find Your “Why” to Identify Your “What”)

Purpose is the fire that blazes your path to success in web development. Without a clearly defined vision or mission, it's impossible to spend your time and energy on high impact activities. You'll get trapped in a never-ending cycle of busywork that does little to make you successful in the long-term. The risks of demotivation and procrastination also grow in direct correlation to the lack of purpose behind your actions. We can only find joy in meaningful work that makes a true, tangible difference. Continue reading to unleash your full potential in three steps.

1. Accept yourself and be aware of situational barriers.

It’s hard to think about the future when we’re stressed out about the present. This is especially true right now. COVID-19 is a wrecking ball that disrupted the foundations of our economy and life. Be patient with yourself, because reflection requires mental peace and distance from our current concerns. And that’s not realistic for everybody all the time.

Believe me, I know. I suffered through an intense and prolonged fog of depression. Not “sadness,” which we can work through. The crippling kind of depression that leaves you in bed all day, trapped in a state of apathy that drains every iota of love and light from your body. There was no “purpose” for me at this stage. My only goal was to resist the urge to surrender.

Be real with yourself. Accept your current mental state. Set your life goals according to those. We can’t always go 100 MPH. Sometimes we need to settle for 10 MPH until the storm lets up. That said, find moments of peace (going outside and listening to the birds helps me), and meditate about where you want to be in the future. “The future” can mean 1, 5, or 10 years. Think as far ahead as your mind allows. Journaling might be helpful.

2. Forget about the process (for now) and focus on the outcome.

The goal is to identify the destination, not the path. “Destination” could mean traveling the world, retiring below age 50, publishing a best-selling book, or whatever your heart desires. For now, I want you to focus solely on the destination, because many different paths could take you there. Often, people get too attached to one idea -- be it an app, website, book, job, career, or business -- and resign themselves to failure when it doesn’t work out.

This makes no sense. Imagine you’re on a hike. You come across a downed tree, felled by a lightning strike last night. Your child or a young cousin accompanied you and it’s unsafe to cross, because that would require more coordination than they’ve developed yet. Would you just sit down, shrug, and say: “Oh, well. We have failed. Let’s stay here forever.” Of course not! You’d turn around and retrace your steps until you found a better path.

Treat your career goals like this. If one path fails, try another. Kill any attachment to a single path before it takes root. The destination is what matters. Perceive the path by which you arrive as a means to an end. And the more open you are to alternative ideas, the more likely you’ll bring your vision to life. A lot of success boils down to repetition. No basketball player can make a three-pointer every time. They keep shooting until the average works out. Do likewise by taking shots until you score the game-winner.

3. Apply this philosophy to your career as a web developer.

Let’s close with actionable points you can apply right this second. First, reflect about what you hope to gain through the pursuit of a career in web development. Here are some important questions to consider:

  • What pivotal moment led you to code in the first place?
  • Do you want to work for a company or be your own boss?
  • Are you more interested in income, excitement, or work/life balance?
  • Would you be happier building software or websites for a certain industry?
  • Is there a strong talent/preference for front-end, back-end, or full stack development?
  • Where does coding fit in with your major life goals (i.e. retirement and financial freedom)?

No pressure to answer these questions now. I often benefit from dwelling on them. Epiphanies aren’t known to reveal themselves on demand. Like catching a fish, we have to wait for a nibble before reeling them in.

Second, consider alternate paths to the same destination. Let’s say you want to retire before age 50. That’s one of my goals. I bet a lot of folks share it. Wealth can be obtained in many ways (hint: for best results, combine several approaches; later, you can concentrate on the most effective ones).

  • Earn passive income by launching a successful app, book, online course, or any other product
  • Provide freelancing services such as mobile responsive design to a certain type of client
  • Build a high traffic blog and monetize it with ads, affiliate links, sponsored stories, etc.
  • Apply to web developer jobs until you get hired and save as aggressively as possible
  • Invest a percentage of earnings wisely and enjoy the benefit of compound interest

Advice is worthless without application. Make a list of ways you'll apply the takeaways relevant to you. For bonus points, tell us one in a comment for accountability. Feel free to share this post with any of your code pals who might benefit from it. Thanks for reading all the way to the end!

Note: this blog is a preview of an upcoming e-book titled, 12 Essential Soft Skills for Success in Web Development. Each chapter will be released as a stand-alone post before publication. If you want to be the first person to know when the compilation is complete, click here. I’ll also notify you when each new post is live on so you can act on them now (not later).

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