Are you finding it harder to summon the coding fervency that once fuelled your midnight coding sessions? Don't worry, every programmer faces the occasional motivation slump. Fortunately, you can do something about it.
This post will explore tried-and-tested methods to wake up your programming rage and supercharge your motivation.
1. Compare your salary to others...
One cliché that motivational speakers are known for saying is, "Don't compare yourself to others." That's the source of your unhappiness. It could be... but for a lot of us, competition is a hugely motivating factor. Knowing with a few hard years of work, you can earn double or triple your current salary should be all the motivation you need.
You should go and find out what developers with your skill and experience are earning, not just in your country but around the world. Not only will this give your perspective, but it should be encouraging to know that you have not yet hit your earning potential. It should light a fire under your butt knowing that someone less skilled than you is earning more. You need to correct the imbalance in the world.
2. Set SMART goals for your projects
SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, and they could help you get pepped up again. A vague objective like “improve coding skills” might leave you feeling adrift in the sea of possibilities. However, when you establish a SMART goal such as “Learn PHP by updating a local business's WordPress site,” suddenly, you've got a path that is measurable and real.
Being able to measure your goals is a crucial aspect of getting and staying motivated. It means you can compare and see the changes that occurred. For example, if your goal is to improve webpage loading speed then you might want to set clear benchmarks. For example: "I will make the loading speed faster than the competitor" or "I'll beat the average page load speed."
Time-bound goals are great for motivation because they introduce a level of pressure. With a clear deadline, putting tasks off becomes very uncomfortable. As an example, you might want to build and launch a mobile app, you should set a deadline of three months and stick to it.
3. Look into new technologies and frameworks
Play with technology. Go back and revisit those things that made you excited about programming in the first place – aspects of programming you find fun. Try your hand at hacking, build fun tools, and create a bot using ChatGPT.
When we get paid to do something we love, it often robs us of that initial enjoyment. That paycheck strips expression and creativity from the work. you need to find a way to connect back to that playfulness that kept you glued to your computer for days.
4. Play games to learn to code
But what if coding was a thrilling game where you conquer (hey, Attila) challenges and level up your skills along the way? Many programmers have discovered that turning coding into a game makes it more enjoyable and turbocharges their motivation.
One way to embrace this concept is by participating in coding competitions. Platforms like Codeforces and HackerRank host regular contests that pit you against other developers worldwide. You can challenge yourself to solve complex algorithmic problems under time constraints, earning points and rankings based on your performance. The competitive spirit and the desire to climb on the leaderboard can help you recover your mojo. These competitions often offer cash prizes and recognition, adding an extra layer of excitement.
Whether you’re competing in coding contests, tackling challenges on online platforms, or creating your coding adventure in CodinGame, you’ll find that this approach not only adds an element of fun to your work but also helps you level up your skills.
5. Go for a growth mindset
Carol Dweck’s concept of a "growth mindset" is your secret weapon against stagnation. A growth mindset is the belief that one’s abilities and intelligence can be developed and improved over time through dedication, hard work, and learning from mistakes. It’s the opposite of a “fixed mindset,” where individuals believe their abilities are innate and unchangeable.
So, embrace challenges, learn from failures, and believe in your ability to improve. Eastern European techies are renowned for their adaptability, so why not adopt this mindset to reignite your passion for C++?
6. Change your work environment
Occasionally, a change of scenery can do wonders for your motivation. Swap your home office for a coworking space, where you can surround yourself with like-minded professionals, exchange ideas, and tap into the collaborative energy of the tech community. Alternatively, consider working from a local café, where freshly brewed coffee and the buzz of creativity can provide a refreshing change of pace.
Experimenting with standing desks, ergonomic chairs, or even adding a touch of greenery to your workspace are also minor adjustments that can significantly improve your motivation levels. You’ll also land compliments each time you jump into Zoom calls.
7. Connect with the dev community
If you’re feeling stagnant, you can socialize. Attend local tech meetups, conferences, and hackathons. Engaging with fellow developers can provide fresh perspectives, networking opportunities, and the extra motivation spark you need. It's also about adding interesting characters into your routine.
Consider joining tech meetups like “Red Hat Tech Talks” in Central and Eastern Europe to tap into Eastern Europe’s active tech community. These events bring together developers, entrepreneurs, and tech enthusiasts from across the region, offering a platform for networking, sharing insights, and gaining fresh perspectives on the ever-evolving tech landscape.
8. Reconsider your work-life balance
Burnout is more prevalent than we think, if you suspect that you might be getting burnt out, make adjustments to your schedule. Take regular breaks, engage in hobbies, and spend quality time with friends and family. The most important thing to do is get strict with your work hours. A balanced life outside of coding can keep you fired up when you’re in front of your screen. It’ll finally be exciting to sit down again against the screen, provided you’re mentally okay.
Question: “Self-taught programmers: How did you stay motivated?”
Answer: “Helping other people program. This summer I'm going to be ripping down my friends final year university project, and helping her rebuild it. Her code isn't fantastic so she wants to 'get better' ready for her masters next year. I've got 2 months to waste, so why not?”
9. Be the expert
If you’re feeling unmotivated, you should try grasping the power of being an expert once again. People enjoy doing things they are good at. But when you look at your career, you tend to take on bigger projects with solve more complex problems. Which means you're always learning and overcoming obstacles. You don't always feel like an expert who can dominate everyone.
Go back to level 1. Talk to those people who have small problems. Solve those problems. You've been playing on veteran mode for years, so switch back to easy mode for a day or two. There's nothing more motivating than playing a game you know you can win. Not only does it take the pressure off, but it's also rewarding in the sense that people will seem to appreciate your work more.
Maybe your job is the problem
If you’re still struggling to find motivation despite trying these strategies, it may be a sign that it’s time to change roles. Re-evaluate your current job situation and explore new opportunities on Joberty. Don’t forget to leave a review on the site to help fellow devs understand what they’re up to when they send their application.