By Imdad Azman November 23, 2018

What Matters Most to Become a Programmer: Thinking Clearly and Having Passion

To understand what matters most in becoming a programmer, we need to know what they do. What is it? Creating software/projects. So, the most important factor in becoming a developer is the ability to do these things.

But you don’t start out creating projects, you start by writing lines of code. Of course, someone just beginning to learn a language wouldn’t be able to develop software, so how do you know if they’re suited to become a developer?

If you’ve accepted the fact that you’ll live the rest of your life writing codes, debugging them, and facing all the frustrations, then that’s what matters. But there are also other factors to consider, like the way you think and your passions.

In building software, there’s a lot of grinding that has to be done. You know that, too. Bugs start popping up here and there, and you’re searching Stack Overflow for answers. Writing thousands of lines of code isn’t easy work.

What Does It Mean to Think Clearly?

The ability to think clearly is a gift that not many have. This is due to the things that disturb our mind from being able to think clearly. This can include our surroundings and culture.

For example, when it comes to programming, there is a mindset that to be a programmer, you have to follow the education system and take a course at a university, but this is not true, since programming can be learned online. “There’s no time to think about my future” is another complaint, even though that’s the most important thing to do. These biases are ideologies that have been injected into our mind by society while we were unaware of it.

But one way to be ahead of others is to shatter those myths and focus on clear thinking. To be a successful developer, you have to be free of the biases in your surroundings. You have to make time every day to reflect on your mindset, your actions, and your pathway. Is it good, or is there a better one? You have to do research and try, rather than trust solely in what others say.

Thinking clearly means taking only needed factors to make a decision.

An analogy: You bought an expensive chocolate, but while you’re eating, your tooth starts to ache. Would you stop eating, or finish it? (It’s expensive, OK?) You’d expect me to say that if you’re thinking clearly, then you’d stop eating, and you’re correct.

Why? Because you’re eating the chocolate for pleasure, but now, if you have a toothache, are you getting the pleasure? It doesn’t matter how expensive the chocolate is, or how much more is left, because that’s all in the past. The future is what counts.

Imagine you’re earning a degree in law and only a year is left, but you decide it’s not suitable for you. People would say it’s a waste if you were to change course, since only a year remains. But think back: What are the main factors in play here?

First is your future and second is your goal. Your future is most important. Would you enjoy it if you stay on the same course? Would you live your dream life? You are the No. 1 factor to think about. Don’t fear, and be strong in your stand.

What is the goal? To have a decent and enjoyable job. So, if you continue studying law, you won’t enjoy it, and it won’t be in line with your goals.

So why is thinking clearly important in becoming a developer?

Thinking Clearly as a Developer

The results that you want are connected heavily to your actions. And your actions come from your mindset and your planning. If these things are influenced by your surroundings, that might lead to biased actions. This is where thinking clearly comes in.

Developers have many tasks: language learning, project creation, networking with other developers. To get through all these steps as quickly as possible, planning is a must.

If you’re just starting out in programming, you have to plan how to learn a language well enough to start creating a project.

For developers, how can you market yourself and make others search for your projects, while you sit down and focus on your programming? How can you lead your team to be as productive as possible and create bigger projects?

That’s a lot to think about. So, if you can think clearly as a programmer, you’ll grow faster. Simply because you’ll know what you truly want and the best actions to take, because you aren’t listening to outside influences.

Programmers who are not clear in their thinking may change their niche to application development, even though they’re an expert in web, because people are saying the app market is in demand now. That’s just their opinion.

What the programmer really needs to do is research whether the app market truly is booming, and look at the percentages of profit if they were to learn it (taking into account how long it would be until they could start making money). Or if they went deeper into web development, see which one would generate more money.

It’s a different story if they were in love with app development from the start …

Finding a Passion for Programming

Motivated developers are not lazy; they do not think of coding as a job burden, but as a source of pleasure.

For those just starting out who want to become programmers, passion can make the learning process faster. Disappointments are a sure thing in programming (they’re normal), but that doesn’t mean you don’t have passion.

With passion, you’ll be able to get up on your feet when you don’t understand what’s wrong with the code and feel like giving up. It’s important to believe what John Sonmez always says: Trust the process. If you take less time to recover from the disappointments and start learning again, you’ll make the process a lot faster.

You have to start a daily habit of coding for a certain number of hours. If it’s your passion, you’ll be able to stay consistent in your coding practice, and, in time, you’ll become a developer.

Developers who have a passion for it will do a lot more with coding. They’ll create more projects, maybe build a blog, interact with more developers, and so on.

With this, you’re overpassing other developers in their career. Because there are countless developers out there who became developers not by passion, but for the salary or because they were pressured into it. They’ll work only to get the money, which makes their work imperfect, and their motivation level always low.

How is it that you’re ahead of them? Since you’re producing more and more output every day, people will start recognizing you—whether it’s your boss, your co-workers, or, better, the world of developers will start knowing your name.

Once people start knowing you, what’s next? Tons of things can happen. Most likely, when they think of a project, they’ll think of collaborating with you, or they’ll invite you to give a speech at an event, or, at the very least, you’ll get more reputation.

Passion leads to impact, which leads to money and everything else, making it an important factor in becoming a programmer.

How To Be More Passionate

For me, I love the satisfaction of, when there are bugs, doing everything I can to search for answers, and then finally running the code and having no errors pop up. That alone, and the fact that our projects impact others, is exciting.

So think back: What is it that motivates you to code? Find the source of inspiration, and act on it.

Next is to have a target. Humans chase after goals (which you already know). It’s a cliché and every successful person talks about it—especially those genius entrepreneurs. This actually makes it more relevant for me to highlight: Having goals as a developer is a must.

Here are simple examples of a goal-oriented routine: Every day, code for two hours. Or, if you’re about to create your own project, set up an hour every day to think about and research it. Or say to yourself that each month, you’ll help out with one project. At least you’ll start to build the programming logic inside you.

Continuous efforts like this will benefit your career, so start now because it takes time to get to the top.

Expert developers are good at one thing for sure, and that is grinding. I’ve explained many times the process of building a project. The point is, it takes a lot of effort.

If you’re just starting out in coding, there’s a lot of work at the beginning when you learn a new language and start to apply it. If you think you aren’t suited to become a programmer when you’re learning, you might just be overwhelmed by the language. Learn to grit, and you’ll be fine.

Nothing Else Counts

Age, gender, and intelligence aren’t the deciding factors. Passion is. Once you have passion and are thinking clearly, everything else isn’t a problem.

Everyone has different potential, so we can’t judge one person’s knowledge based on the majority’s knowledge. So, how long it’ll take you to be successful in your developer career may vary from others.

We can’t say to our teens that academics is more important than their dreams. We can’t say to ourselves, “we’re too old to code.” Nope, that’s not true.

Leave those bad thoughts aside, and say to yourself, what matters most is being passionate about programming and making decisions with a clear mind.

About the author

    Imdad Azman

    Imdad Azman is a Malaysian novice SQL and web developer working on his own projects. As a programmer, he is very interested to connect with more people and collaborate with various projects. He is also the author of the blog: Zero Programmer.