When we allow surrounding cultures to drive our goals, we fall back to the systems and goals that the people around us have created. Where do our goals come from and how does it make our lives dysfunctional?
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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Why do you think you need to be great? If this question caught your attention, it's likely because you, like so many other people, have this implicit goal. This built-in drive, something informing you that you need to be improving, that you need to continue working, becoming better at your craft, becoming faster, or somehow improving all the time, towards some endless goal. Where did this goal come from? And how does it function in our lives? Or perhaps more importantly, how does it make our lives dysfunctional? That's what I'm talking about in today's episode of Developer Tea. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, and my goal in the show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. When we allow our surrounding culture to set our goals for us, we will adopt the goals of the average person in that culture. Think about this. It's a simple concept. And we don't set our own goals, instead we will fall to the systems that we've created around us, particularly most likely we will set goals that the people that we're close to set. We will amir our social situations or our work situations, very often those are mirroring some kind of larger culture that they're a part of. And right now it is very common, particularly in American culture or American influenced culture, to adopt this goal of always improving with the mindset that there is never going to be a point where I am satisfied. And here's the reality. I want to make a distinction here. Because this episode, this show wouldn't exist if we didn't believe that developers have good reason for improving. In fact, the whole purpose of the spec network is to help designers and developers level up in their careers. But here's what I want to make very clear about the network, about this show. If you come to the table without any of your own goals in mind. If you're just trying to become a better designer or a better developer without knowing why you want to become a better designer or developer, then I encourage you to pause this podcast and ask yourself that question. And I want you to think about this as if you are in that category of people who are just kind of blindly trying to improve because somehow, somewhere, you learned, you found out that it would be good for you to become a better designer, good for you to become a better developer, a faster developer or to add to your skill set. And I want you to view this question as a turning point in your career. What exactly, not abstractly, not generally, but what exactly would be coming better give to you? And I want you to be brutally honest about your intentions here. It's okay, by the way, for the answer to be, it would allow me to make more money than I would like to make more money. It's also okay to say that you would feel better about yourself if you were a little bit more competent as a developer. Perhaps you have a common goal that a lot of people share being able to build really interesting and impactful products. But I want you to get very clear with yourself about why, what is your exact real motivation. Now we don't have to set lifelong goals with this little exercise that I'm asking you to do, this isn't about trying to figure out what your whole identity is, but instead, I want you to view this as determining your source motivation, your original motivation. And even if the answer is that you don't know, that's the kind of thing that I want you to bring up. Don't try to create a new motivation that didn't exist before. Be honest with yourself. Where did your desire to become better come from? We're going to take a quick sponsor break, but after we come back, we're going to talk about why it's easy to get caught in the trap of perpetually trying to improve in one area, but maybe your energy is spent better in a different way. Today's episode is sponsored by Oxy Labs. Oxy Labs is a top provider of innovative web data gathering services like their real-time crawler, their web scraper, and their residential and data center proxies. Oxy Labs is now introducing next-generation residential proxies. This is a significantly improved data gathering solution because here's the reality. Scraping data is really tough. If your IP gets blacklisted, for example, you no longer get that data and it's hard to get unblacklisted. That's why Oxy Labs provides a stable and fast proxy pool of over 30 million global IP addresses. It's resource efficient with proxy management, user agents, IP rotation. All of this is done on the Oxy Labs side and with Oxy Labs, you're going to get block free scraping. You can get through things like cabsha. By the way, Oxy Labs, this is what they do. They have a deep understanding and a knowledge on how to acquire web data. They have a dedicated account manager for every client and it's already trusted by over 500 companies for sales intelligence, market research, SEO monitoring, and plenty more. Visit oxylabs.io slash Developer Teato find out more about the services and apply for a free trial of their next-generation residential proxies. Thanks again to Oxy Labs for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. At first it may seem like a silly question that we've asked in this episode. Why do you want to improve? It seems very core to our humanity that we want to always get better, that we have a desire to learn and adjust and become more effective at what we're trying to do. But here's what ends up happening instead. Very often we take this idea of wanting to constantly become better, to evolve. And we compress it. We compress it into one specific way to become better. We compress all of our goals and our ideals and our results into individual actions or individual measurements. You can imagine this concept as taking this broad idea of self-improvement or self-battering, getting better over time. And we shove it into the small narrow frame of becoming a better programmer. And the assumption is that by becoming a better programmer we might be able to do more, have more control over our lives or perhaps have a better job. We might be able to create better work, better products. We might be able to gain more notoriety amongst our peers or amongst a broader culture of programmers. And by doing all of these things that somehow we create more of a foothold to improve more broadly in our lives, we might feel more satisfied if we're creating better products, for example. Or perhaps we are just going after better economic situations, making more money with our jobs. Very often developers fall into this trap of thinking that the results that they're looking for are simply accomplished by becoming a better programmer. Instead, I want you to think about this journey of self-improvement as a broad and open concept. And that perhaps your version of improving and constantly becoming better doesn't necessarily mean that you have an endless path for improving as a programmer. Let me say that one more time because I think this is really critical for a lot of Developer To hear. It's very possible that I add a certain point in your career. The learning and refinement that you do to your skill sets has diminishing returns based on your goals. It's an odd thing to say on a developer podcast because it seems so hard and grained into our heads that we should always be becoming better at our craft. But the truth is, if we become slaves to our craft, then the whole reason that we were trying to become better at our craft in the first place becomes null and void. And if the marginal benefits of investing and becoming better are smaller than benefits, we would get if we spend our time in a different way, then why should we force ourselves to stay on the constant treadmill of a very narrow and specific way of improving? Perhaps the most important thing you can do to improve today is spend your time in a totally different way. Because our time is limited, we can never improve in every area to a maximum expertise. Because our time is limited, we invest a scarce resource. And perhaps your improvement isn't just about investing that resource into programming. If one of your ultimate goals in life is to end up satisfied, happy, enjoying the time that you're spending on a day-to-day basis, then perhaps one of the ways that you can invest that time instead of always trying to be a better programmer is to stop for a moment, to actually take that time that you have and enjoy it, spend it with friends or doing something that you already love doing. If you're like many programmers, this means that you might spend your time programming, but not because you want to learn a new technique that you can use at work, but instead because you do enjoy it. That's why a lot of us got into this line of work in the first place, not because it was a path to becoming a billionaire, but instead it was a path to make things that we enjoyed making. Make time to understand why you want to improve, why you want to invest your time into becoming a better programmer. You might find that the most important thing you can do to improve is to set down your computer a little more often. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to Oxy Labs for sponsoring today's episode, head over to oxylabs.io slash Developer Teato get started. This episode was produced by Sarah Jackson. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and until next time, enjoy your tea.