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Friday Refill - Clarified Intentions and Flexible Goals

Published 6/11/2021

If you don't understand the motivations underlying your goals, you will always deal with brittle, high-stakes situations. If you understand your goals through the lens of your deeper human motivations, you will be more able to see the flexibility and many pathways to success. 

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Happy Friday everybody! Welcome to another Friday refill episode of Developer Tea. In these Friday refill episodes, and take a little bit of liberty in giving you direct advice. And today's episode is going to be that kind of advice, that kind of coaching. Hopefully, some of you can take it as coaching. Many of us have gone through our careers. Only understanding the path in front of us based on some preconceived idea of what we should be doing. Let me say that in a different way. Many of us are going through our careers trying to make our careers look like some specific picture that we got from someone else. Maybe this picture was presented to us by our parents. Maybe it was presented to us by some part of our schooling, our education. Maybe you see the picture in popular culture, in media somewhere. Maybe you are pursuing this particular status or job, maybe even a specific salary. You're pursuing something in your career. And the reasons that you're pursuing it are all external. I want to help you find the reasons. I want you to understand your reasons for pursuing what you're pursuing. Now, I want to be clear, this episode is not intended to shame anybody who's listening to it right now who has that external reasoning. It's very normal. And it's not even necessarily a bad thing to have external cues that help us understand how we should be progressing through our careers. Sometimes this is demonized, the idea that we are seeking some social status, that that is somehow almost on the edge of being morally wrong. And this isn't true. There are both good reasons and bad reasons to follow some external cues for our careers. But I do want to help you clarify this. Remember this show is in existence to help software engineers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose. And this is all about finding clarity, perspective, and purpose. It wraps up all three of those things. So I want you to ask this question. What are you seeking in your career? What are you seeking in your life and by extension in your career? What do you want? Many of us will still keep the same answers that we have before we started this episode, but only three and a half minutes in. Many of us are probably not going to change that answer right away. But I want you to inspect this answer a little bit more. Where did this particular desire come from? Where did I get the idea that I want to pursue this specific job title? Why do I want that? And you can find your cue from an external perspective or an internal perspective. What's true about both of these, right? No matter where your perspective is coming from, no matter where your desire originated, where that picture originates, all of those are going to satisfy a different desire. We don't just want a title for the sake of wanting a title. Right? There's something else that having that title provides to us. Right? Sometimes that provision is a specific feeling of status. I want to feel competent. Right? I want to be respected by my peers. These are really common answers. And there's nothing, again, nothing wrong with these answers at all. But it is important for us to chase these down. Because sometimes the way these answers come out make us realize that our motivation is different than we thought it was. I'll give a very silly example. And we'll use money since it's a very common desire, a common driver. I want to make six figures because I want everyone around me to think that I've made it. Again, this episode is not intended to pass judgment on this. But if you answered this in a way that revealed something to yourself that you didn't realize was driving you. Right? If you really dig and answer this question truthfully, you might find that your motivation, again, is different than you thought it was. And you might shift your career goals as a result. So you're going to find out what that underlying motivation is. I want to reach this particular status. Why? Well, I haven't really thought about it. I haven't really thought further than setting that goal. And here's the reality. If we understand our motivations, then we can become more flexible in our goals. Let's kind of say that in another way. So you really capture that because that's the essence of what I want you to take away from today's episode. If we understand our motivation, if we understand what we want, if we understand our goals or values, if we understand the things that drive us at our core, if we understand the Y component of what we're doing, what is it that we care about deeply? Then the specific goals that we set are only expressions, their temporal expressions of those deeper things. And so if we don't reach a particular goal, we have a hundred more that could be expressions of those deeper desires. Reaching that goal is not the actual goal. Many people want to become software engineers so that they can have a job that is more enjoyable to them. They want to become software engineers because they want the flexibility or they want a higher paying. They want to work in an atmosphere that is more engaging, more meaningful. All of these are core desires. And the end point that people are choosing is to become a software engineer. But if you were to roll back that curtain a little bit, then recognize what you're seeking first. And you actually want more flexibility. You actually want more time with your family. If you can remind yourself of those goals, then when you seek your specific kind of expressions of those deeper things, you may find that there are multiple routes. There's multiple ways to get what you actually care about. If you restrict yourself to meeting only one specific far off goal, then you may end up sacrificing the thing that you really wanted for a long time. And if you never actually reach that goal at all, you may sacrifice the thing that you really wanted altogether. So here is the summed up advice. And I hope you take this away. You really think about it over the weekend, you know, over the course of your career, you revisit this idea. If you clarify your intention, clarify your deepest motivations, your deepest needs. This might even mean clarifying the things that you're most afraid of. Once you clarify all of this to yourself, then all of your goals become much more flexible. All of your striving in your career, all of your striving in your personal life will have a deep rooted structure. And you'll be much more resilient to failure. And you can face most challenges head on with that rooted structure. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of Developer Tea. It's a Friday refill episode. We do three episodes a week, Friday refills. Of course, they come every Friday. If you don't want to miss out on future episodes, make sure you subscribe in whatever podcasting app you currently use. If you've already subscribed, well, good job. You're taking steps towards improving yourself towards improving your career. And it shouldn't just stop with me. You can seek out other resources. Certainly one person's opinion shouldn't be all you, you know, all you triangulate on. So find other opinions certainly beyond my own, but there's also a community you can join. If you find these episodes engaging, you can join the Developer Tea Discord community. Head over to developertea.com slash discord to get started. Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, enjoy your tea.