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Does it frustrate you when you see other software professionals get recognition or opportunities you want? Are you stuck in a software project situation where it feels like you’re unable to grow?

Let me share some information that will help you advance, but in a healthy way. I’ll list 4 tips at the end.

Growth and Perks are Abundant Early On

When you first start working in software, you’ll have rewards that will keep you satisfied for the first 2-5 years:

  • Lots to Learn (Everything is NEW!)
  • Casual Environment
  • Good Benefits

After time spent on spent on projects that aren’t letting you grow, you may hit some barriers:

  • Continued growth may not be important to your employer
  • The path to advance may appear to be “blocked” by other ambitious professionals

The reality is that the way to grow is to contribute more. You’ll always progress faster in your software development career when you serve others with something for which you have become particularly skilled.

Why Software Professionals Struggle to Grow

You may be familiar with Tony Robbins’ 6 human needs. He breaks human behavior down into things that drive us and are necessary for our survival.

  1. Certainty
  2. Variety (or Uncertainty)
  3. Significance
  4. Love and Connection (or Team/Community belonging)
  5. Growth (Personal skills)
  6. Contribution

As software developers, we have particular dynamics to the job that cause us to get into trouble with these human needs:

Problem #1: We seek certainty, but then get bored.

Problem #2: We try to be significant (get promoted, recognized), and sacrifice connection with others.

Problem #3: We focus on growing our skills, and sacrifice contribution (helping others).

4 Tips for Healthy Software Career Growth

How can you balance these human needs better, specifically in your software career?

Tip #1: Set Deadlines for Career Changes

Don’t wait until you get frustrated. Plan for when to make career decisions if situations don’t improve.

Tip #2: Respect Resistance to Change from Others

There will be times you want to grow and others don’t. You want to get support from other people on your projects in a way that’s healthy to your relationship. Visit the post about How To Win Trust For Your Software Ideas for some tips.

Tip #3: Contribute to Other People’s Career Growth

When you help others get recognized, they will return the favor. You also get an opportunity to learn from others when you let them lead you in doing new work when you want to grow.

Tip #4: Allow Others to Be “The Expert”

When you let others teach you, instead of just learning from the internet, you strengthen your relationship. This is because people appreciate when you show that you value their opinion enough to defer to them for their expertise. It also helps you learn faster from their experience than scouring StackOverflow and Google. Being able to become a “newbie” again is an invaluable skill!