By John Sonmez February 1, 2018

I’m A Programmer And I Don’t Wanna Do This Anymore!

Let's say you're a programmer and you literally wanna quit! You don't wanna do this anymore. What should you do?

This is exactly what happened to a guy that emailed me. He is a programmer and he has been pretty successful on his journey. However, he's been realizing that he is lacking the motivations he thought he would get out of all of these realizations.

Where does motivation come from? How can he regain his motivation and keep being a programmer?

Transcript Of The Video

John Sonmez: Hey, what's up? John Sonmez here from simpleprogrammer.com. I got an email from someone who—I'm not going to name names here just to keep this anonymous, but he is actually a blind developer originally from Iran. He gave me an update. I had spoken to him or exchanged emails with him a couple times before. Hopefully, this will still be anonymous. I mean I think it's still fairly anonymous here. There's not any real sensitive information. I'll skip names of companies and stuff as well. He asked a really interesting question, something that I've struggled with myself. I thought I would read this. Let me see here.

He's got a TLDR version, but I'm just going to skip that and go to the full question. He says, “I've come a long way since we last spoke that I passed an interview at XYZ company and moved to the Netherlands as an expat with a really good salary. Coming out of Iran means I get access to buy whatever I want, go around and talk to people who have always inspired me if I want to and do work that really matters.” That's pretty cool. “The whole interview process was really hard. I had to learn about interview questions and such, which strangely enough is all explained visually. The point is I did the impossible. I literally pushed through something that sighted people rarely even attempt and I did it just for fun. Not for reaching a goal, not for being a superstar. I was seriously enjoying every single minute of it. I had a clear goal and I was enjoying the process of going there. Then I arrived in the Netherlands, went to work and found that I didn’t enjoy programming at all. Not anymore. At first, I thought it's something with XYZ company itself. I started moving teams. Maybe it's because they use Perl. Maybe it's because they don’t do TDD. Maybe it's because there's little software design and everyone has pound some shit out ASAP mentality. Maybe if I did go instead of Perl, maybe if I land myself on a purely back-end or low-level programming position. I did all of that. I'm currently somewhere I would have loved to be. I'm in the part of the core infrastructure team working on the platform that could be the next big thing for the company and I don’t enjoy any of it. It's getting to the point where I'm constantly pushing myself to work and deliver the next task and compared to that internal battle, difficult programming tasks just feel like a breeze. I used to jump out of bed in the morning before my alarm ring. I would be looking forward to the first day of the week. Now, getting out of bed and going to work is harder than going to the gym and willingly torturing myself. As I said before, I know there's no easy answer to this. However, I wonder if you have faced something like this before or have gotten emails like this before. Is there any way to find out what's wrong? Thanks for producing awesome content. You're amazing. Have an awesome 2018.”

Okay. First of all, let me say that this is a common experience and I am going through this now. I'm going through this many times in my life and I will continue to go through this in the future. Now, I have to say that because I don’t have a perfect answer for you, like I don’t know if this is a curable problem because I constantly reencounter this. I mean just like this last week. I'm sort of coming out of one of those phases because like last week, I really didn’t feel like making videos. I really didn’t feel like answering my email and just doing any kind of Simple Programmer work. I didn’t really want to do it or go to the gym even. I just felt very, very unmotivated.

Now, I've done videos about this. I did a video recently talking about this. I'm not going to beat a dead horse there, but I will say that I just pushed forward through this stuff and it does eventually disappear. I feel like I'm coming out of that now even though I'm still not as excited. I feel more comfortable definitely doing the videos and doing the stuff that I need to do. Maybe that's part of the problem too. I mean if you recognize my vocabulary, if you've been watching this channel for a while, you'd probably say, “Hey, John. Wait a minute. You need to do it or do you get to do it? You want to do it, right?” Really, I get to do this stuff. I choose to do these things.

I think there's always going to be that aspect of it. I think no matter where you get in life and whatever you're doing, you're going to find a point where it just becomes drudgery, to some point like you're going to lose motivation. You're not going to be excited about it. Again, the thing that makes people become really successful in life and the thing that I would attribute most of my success in life too is being able to like say, “You know what? Fuck it, John. I don’t care how you feel right now. You're going to do this shit anyway and you're going to push through.”

I've talked about this a lot of times about dealing with burnout and how I don’t really believe in burnout because for the most part—even though I may feel the symptoms of burnout, I feel like I'm burned out, I know that pushing through is the answer that is going to get you the better outcome in life, and that when you don’t push through, that's when you lose all the momentum. You lose everything you've built up. Even though sometimes it's not the most comfortable or easy thing to push through, that's why we push through anyway. Everytime I've done that in life, I've been rewarded by doing that.

With that said, I want to talk about something specifically here which is what our emailer—I'll call him P—what P said here that is really interesting. Just this idea and just a concept that happens. I'll give you a story back—oh, gosh. I don’t remember how long this was, but there was a period of time where I was getting back into shape and really trying to lose some weight and stuff, and I enrolled in this three-month, 90-day fitness challenge in this competition. I made a perfect diet plan. I had a perfect routine and I followed this shit 90 days perfectly. Executed perfectly. Every day I was living and breathing this because that was my goal. I ended up winning the competition. I ended up having a huge transformation. The next day, I was so depressed. It was horrible. I was like I finally achieved what I wanted to achieve and now here I am depressed. I asked myself, “Why? What the fuck is wrong with you, man? What is going on?”

I'll tell you another story. I'll tell you another one on top of that, which is related which is—like I mean just related to what I was just talking about. Here I am, okay. I mean if you think about where I am right now in my life, which is crazy—I'm not going to say this to brag, but I do want you to realize, at one point, I was hoping to become a programmer someday and I just would love to just become a programmer. Then at one point, I was like, “Oh, if I could just work for myself or if I could retire, if I could”—you know. All these things. “If I could get in shape, if I could have six-pack abs.” I got them now. Have these things.

At the point where I'm at in my life it's kind of insane. I mean literally like I don’t have to work if I don’t want to, like I have passive income coming in. I've got more than I need. I've got non-passive income coming in. I live on the beach. If I do want to work, which I am working, it's making YouTube videos. It's like standing in front of the camera and talking, and managing my team and doing a lot of fun stuff like creative kind of stuff, yeah, I have some emails and stuff like that, but I don’t even have to, right? I mean it's like for a living, I can make good money, better money than most people make by like writing books and blog posts and making YouTube videos, and doing kind of fun—I mean crazy kind of stuff with no schedule, no boss, nothing.

I'm in the best physical shape I've ever been in my life. Like I said, just so many good things are going for me and yet, I can still feel like I'm unmotivated, I don’t like my life, I don’t—all these—I can have those feelings. I don’t have those feelings all the time, but I have those feelings from time to time and I can have those feelings.

The thing is like this and this is where I'm kind of going with this, is that like you have this idea in your mind that when you get this, when you get that girl, when you finally get laid for some of you guys out there, when you finally get that job, when you finally make that money, when you finally retire, when you finally, finally, finally get that Lamborghini, whatever it is that you're going to be happy, that this is what you really want. What you find a lot of times when you get that—I mean look at P's condition here. He's a blind developer in Iran. I mean I don’t know if you guys know, but I get plenty of emails from developers in Iran. I send them a lot of free shit sometimes because they can't even buy anything. They can't even buy my products. I have to like give them or they have to get a bootleg version of it. I'm like, “Okay, go for it.” I mean it's so restrictive.

This guy, he comes here. He gets this job in Netherlands. It's a dream job. He's making a lot of—I mean just to overcome the obstacles of being a blind developer. I mean gosh. He said, “I did the impossible.” He did the fucking impossible. You do all this stuff and you hit your dream, and you think that that's going to be it. You're going to be awesome and you're going to be happy, but you're not because it's not—again—we have a good hint of wisdom here in P's email where he says that the striving forward. I want to see if I can find the point in the email where he said that—okay. He said, “The point is I did the impossible. I literally pushed through something that sighted people rarely even attempt and I did it just for fun.” Oh, man. Screensaver, come on. Right at the time. All right. “Not for reaching a goal. Not for being a superstar. I seriously enjoy every single minute of it. I had a clear goal and I was enjoying the process going there.”

That's the thing like when you look at that, he had this goal and what he enjoyed was that process of getting there, of getting to the goal, of getting that job with XYZ company, getting out of Iran, getting this awesome job, and going to that hard interview process, all the while being blind and he did it. What he enjoyed was not the success. He didn’t enjoy being there and having it. He enjoyed the pursuit of the impossible dream, of the impossible goal.

We're all like that to some degree. Again, it's pain when you're doing it, but when you look back and you see the thing that you enjoy, it was that pursuit. When you lose that pursuit because you think you're just trying to achieve the goal or you achieved that goal, depression comes. I've talked about this a lot on this channel because I want you guys to understand a couple of things.

One, is that like you do not put it all on achieving the goal because achieving the thing, whatever, be it sex, be it money, be it fitness, whatever you think that is that when you achieve that thing in life that you're going to be happy. It's wrong. You're probably going to be more depressed by it and you're going to be super depressed by it if you are putting everything on that outcome and expecting that when you get there, you'll have arrived. You'll never arrive. Not only that, but you're just going to go through dips in life and you're just going to go through these valleys, and you're going to have mountains, you're going to have valleys. What you'll find is that when you're pursuing a goal, that is when you're the most live. That's when you have the most ambition and you have the most fun, and you enjoy it the most rather than when you're enjoying the results of the goal that you pursue.

Does that make sense? You see what I'm saying? Again, my advice to you, my advice to me is to pick a goal and to pursue that goal. Now, you can't always be hammering the goal everytime, but the more that you're pursuing the goal and the more that you're advancing and making progress towards the goal—life is about progress. You know, Tony Robbins really talks about this a lot in his seminars, in his content. He talks about this idea that growth, that life is growth. If you're not growing, you're dying, is one thing he says all the time.

The thing is like we as human beings, we're wired to want to experience growth. When we feel like we're growing, when we're feeling like we're going towards and we're making progress, that's when we're feeling alive. When we feel like we're not, we've already achieved the thing and we should be enjoying it, we can't enjoy. Like I said, I can speak from personal experience because I was shooting so long for this goal of retiring. You can check out my video on what it's like to earn a million dollars, to make a million dollars, which I've talked about this a lot. By the way, click the card in the description below to get access to any of those videos.

I was trying to get to that point. Look at what I'm doing now. I couldn’t just sit there. I can't be—I know that—part of me still says, “Oh, maybe you should just like do nothing, John, and just have fun and play video games.” Maybe I'll play this Oculus Rift today. I think I'm going to, but, anyway, you know, part of me says that, but I know that I can't be happy just doing that. I have to be shooting for the next thing and I have to be improving.

That’s why—again, like I tell you guys, the purpose of this channel, the thing that I'm trying to communicate to you, really the overarching goal of this channel, is to get you to understand that you need to be constantly improving yourself, constantly perfecting yourself, constantly striving to become a better and better version of yourself because that is life, and that’s the thing that's going to carry you through life always. If I'm not doing that, I'm not happy in life. You're not either. If you're not growing, you're dying.

What is my advice then to P here in this situation? It's basically this. It's like look, you need to change things up a little bit. You need to start a new goal. You need to figure out what your goal is and you need to aim for that, but you need to remember this time that it's the journey, that it's the process, that it's the pounding out the time and the effort. Whatever it is, pick a goal and aim for it, and let the real overarching goal, the one that you'll never achieve, be that eternal progression. The progression of your soul, the progression of yourself. Developing yourself through your work, through your expression, through whatever you're doing, through your relationships. Developing and strengthening yourself. If you view it that way, then the goal changes.

I'll give you an example. Again, when I did that 90-day challenge, I can't say for sure, but if I had viewed that as just a stepping stone that's going to take me to—that's not done, that that is going to get me to a point and this is the race that I'm running now, but then that's going to be the starting line of another race. I thought about a next 90-day challenge after that or next thing that I was going to accomplish. I want to get this done so I can move on to that one and I'm making progress. If I thought in that frame of mind, then I probably wouldn’t have been disappointed and disillusioned after achieving that. I probably wouldn’t have gone on binge eating and ruined a lot of the results that I got from that.

My advice, again, is basically do that, is pick a goal and realize that it is a journey like you already know here, but also to just realize that life is going to be full of dips and you're not going to feel motivated all the time. Sometimes you're just going to be dragging your knuckles just trying to get through it, but do it. Don’t jeopardize it. Don't self-destruct. Don't destroy everything you've created just because you don’t feel it right now.

I'll tell you, if you quit this job, if you're like, “Oh, fuck it,” if you put in the effort and you lose this job and you lose the opportunity that you've had here, whoa, someday you're going to be kicking yourself. Just hold on to what you got. Sometimes you got to hold the line. I did this video on holding the line and that's all you can do, and that's fine. If you got to hold the line, but just recognize that this is going to be a battle you're always going to face. If you know this is a battle you're always going to face, then you can prepare for it and fight it a little bit better. If this comes as a surprise, if you think everything's all supposed to be great and dandy and when you hit your goals, and you get the stuff that you want in life, you're supposed to be happy. If you think that's how it's supposed to work, you're going to be really miserable. If you realize that it's not about that, that it's something different, it's something bigger and that the part of growing as a person is fighting these battles and struggling, and coming out the other end, that's the thing.

Again, I can tell you from my own personal experience just from this past week, when I woke up in the morning this morning at 5:45 AM, I went for my fucking five-mile run that I didn’t feel like doing, I just tell myself, “All right, John. You got to do this shit. You got to get through this shit. You got to do this. You got to”—it doesn’t matter whether you see the future. You feel like doing this or not. You just got to make it. Got to make it. This is the battle. This is the fight. There's no rest. You just keep on fighting. Keep on fighting, brother. Keep on fighting.

All right. That's all I got for you today. If you have not subscribed already, I have one simple request for you. Click that Subscribe button. Join the fight. Join the battle. Let's not take life sitting down. Let's kick life's fucking ass. Click that Subscribe button. Click the bell to make sure you don’t miss any videos. I'll talk to you next time. 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."