By John Sonmez June 18, 2015

I Know I’ll Never Be Happy Unless I Do Something For Myself

In this episode, I answer an email about being truly happy doing something for oneself.

 

Full transcript:

John:               Hey, John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I’ve got a question here about some life choices. It’s titled In A Pickle, and I’ll read you here. Cole says, “Hey, John. First off, I wanted to say you’re a huge role model.” Thanks Cole. “However, I wanted to ask you a question or rather a few. I’ve seen your videos on a couple of individual topics, but I'm in a bit of a pickle here so I’ll try to describe it as best as I can. I would like to know what you might do in this situation.”

He says, “I'm currently working for a company that has very easy going and awesome employees. However, I'm currently the only developer on my Java web project. While I do get a lot of freedom to research new technologies and ways to improve my skills, I don’t have any team leaders to bounce ideas off of. I’ve been the developer work force for about 5 years now and I don’t think I'm knowledgeable enough to be any sort of mentor or leader in my industry despite how much I try to improve. My current project is really an old school Java website that is at this point just barely maintainable.”

“I want to take charge in the project, but the issue is that I believe my company just partnered with another company who plans to phase out my project. In business, I would probably do the same. However, it personally leaves me in a state of worry. In my spare time, I’ve been learning a lot about the JavaScript stacks in addition to Java technologies and methodologies. I'm currently trying to work on a side project app for car enthusiasts, but the going gets tough for that after a full day of old school Java frustration.”

“All of the Java jobs in my area in Denver, Colorado seem pretty uninteresting and include keywords like maintaining current projects. I don’t want to do this. Maintaining old Java code seems like a constant struggle. I can’t win. I know that a job is a job, but I would like a job where I can continuously learn and improve my skills rather than fight old frameworks. I know this is quite a bit, but what would you recommend? I like the environment of my current job and I know I’ll never truly be happy unless I do something for myself, but I know my current company is going downhill. With all the new technologies, mainly JavaScript libraries, I don’t know what I should move into. Currently, I’ve been working on my app with the iconic framework which has been delightfully frustrating so far. I just don’t know where to go next and I know you say people should specialize, but the Java specialization seems pretty bad where I am. Thank you. Cole.”

Cole, here’s my answer here. You said in your email, “I know I’ll never be truly happy until I do something for myself.” There you go. That’s my answer. Done. No. That’s basically my answer. Everything that you’ve said here basically boils down to this one thing that you’ve said which is, “I know that I’ll never truly be happy unless I do something for myself.” That was me. That’s how I felt. That’s how I still feel. That’s why I did what I did. If you feel that, you’re never going to be happy until you do something for yourself. Focus on that. Work your current job. Do a good job. Put in your heart into your project you’re building for yourself, but while you’re doing that, what you want to do is build your own project. Get a side project, right? If you’ve already got one, start building that out. Work on that. Put your heart into that like get by in your current job because you’re not really gaining any skills and there’s no room for advancement. You said that you want to specialize and you’re not sure where to go. There’s not much opportunities out there.

One thing you could do is with your side project, you could build that in a new technology that you want to be able to transition to. What I would do if I were you is I would focus on doing a couple things. One, retraining myself. Obviously, you’re working on some old Java stuff that’s known as valuable in the industry. Work on your side project in something new. It sounds like that iconic framework that you’re using is a good one. Train yourself in that while you’re working in your side project. See if you can get that thing going and then while you’re doing that, you’ll be in the opportunity or you’ll be in the position to be able to get another job that will be in something a little bit more trendy that will probably be not maintaining old Java code. That’s what I would do if I were you. I like that you said, “I know I’ll never be truly happy unless I do something for myself.” Do it.

Again, just do it and go out there and figure out and do it. It’s going to take some time. It’s going to take some work, but if you believe that, if you truly believe that, then that’s your answer right there. That’s the solution. Get by how you can with your 9-5 job because you know you need that money to survive. Start reducing your expenses if you can so that your freedom number is lower. If you can get build up to the side business and start making some income from it and you’re willing to make some sacrifices, which inevitably you’ll have to do, try to make your expenses lower so that that number that you need to quit your regular job is going to be lower. Don’t burn yourself out on this regular job that’s kind of a dead-end job. Work your time. Put in your work hours, but then really devote your time to working on those side projects.

A lot of people say, “Yeah, I don’t have time after” or “I don’t feel like working on my side project after doing my full day’s work.” Well, then wake up earlier and pay yourself first. I say this a lot, but pay yourself first with your time. Take the first one hour or two hours of your day and work on your stuff, on your side project, and then go to work. If you do that, if you flip things around, you’ll always have energy because you have the most energy when you’re working on your stuff. That’s the thing that’s going to matter in the long term in your career. You’ll be able to get through your 8-hour day at your job after working 2 hours or an hour or two for yourself. When you flip it on the other way, it’s often hard to come home and then put in another 1-2 hours on your thing after you’re exhausted.

Definitely, I would recommend that. Thanks for the email. Good crossroad, I think, to be at in life. You have an opportunity to do something, but you got to take action. You got to go down this path. The entrepreneurial road is not easy. I’ll warn you about that. If it’s something that you feel like you’re truly not going to be happy unless you do, then go for it. What do you have to lose? You could fail, but big deal. You’ll try again.

Anyway, if you like this video, definitely subscribe to the channel. If you have a question for me, email me at john@simpleprogrammer.com and I will create a video for you. Take care.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."