I have seen many developers over the years face the same dilemma.
They are always working toward the next promotion and wondering how they get a pay rise. In their minds, they won’t be happy until they have that senior developer title.
Once that fateful day comes and they have been crowned a senior developer, they don’t feel any different. They still have the same worries, they still feel there is so much to learn and that everyone else knows more than them.
“That engineering manager seems to know everything”, they think to themselves. “Maybe, once I am an engineering manager I will feel different” and so they set their goals even higher but they never feel truly satisfied with the work they are doing now.
This concept is called hedonistic adaption, and it can ruin your happiness in the long run if you let it.
Don’t get me wrong, it is good to always be learning and striving to be better but this way of thinking will never make you happy. You need to learn to enjoy and be proud of the work you are doing now.
Promotions and pay rises are great but they should not be your only source of motivation. If you are waiting to be happy until you get that next promotion then you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Never being happy with what you have is also likely to lead to lifestyle inflation. Those incremental pay rises just get spent on more and more wants in a never-ending pursuit to make yourself happy. This is a great way to get stuck in the rat race.
You should treat software development as a craft. As you get better you slowly hone your skills and become a true craftsman of your trade. This is a much more satisfying way to view your career. You are at your job to learn. If you are not learning it is time to move on and find somewhere else where you can grow.
So, next time you are feeling down about your work, take a step back and think about how far you have come and be proud of the work you are doing now.
If you want to read more about hedonistic adaption there is a great article on Wait But Why that is worth a read.
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