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Why Are Programmers Never HAPPY With Their Job?

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The 4 developer career desires is a concept I discovered through career coaching other people in tech positions over the past 3 years

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There are tons of people online telling you how to get a better career in software development. Unfortunately, they usually tell you a fluffy story that glosses over the truth.

The 4 Developer Career Desires

In this episode, I share the 4 career desires of every software developer. This is a concept I discovered through career coaching other people in tech positions (developers, product managers, DevOps, data science, etc.) over the past 3 years.

An important thing to know about these desires is that they change over our lives. What I wanted from my career in my 20s, was very different in my early 30s, and then in my 40s. This isn’t specific to your age per se – it’s more about being aware of your changing life situation. I got myself into a lot of trouble in my software development career when I was pursuing the wrong career desires.

Desire #1: Impact

The first desire is impact. This is the feeling that the work you do makes a difference! Not feeling like you’re making an impact can be either because you aren’t able to use the skills you want, or the mission of the company doesn’t inspire you.

Desire #2: Growth

The second desire is growth. This is acquiring new skills to increase your value in the marketplace and get to do more different things on the job. These don’t just need to be technical skills like programming however. There are also the skills of persuasion, communication, leadership, negotiation – or anything else that makes us more effective in our software development career.

Desire #3: Work/Life Balance

The third desire is work/life balance. This is the whole reason I made the healthy software developer YouTube channel in the first place! If you’re having trouble sleeping, no energy to exercise, no time for your spouse, kids, or friends, and you spend almost no time pursuing your dreams – you’re burned out! I suffered from serious career burnout as I’ve discussed in many other videos. Don’t let this happen to you!

Desire #4: Benefits

The fourth and final desire, is rewards (or benefits). While the things we do on software projects can be fun, to have a career we need to be compensated well for our efforts. However rewards like getting to work with someone you look up to, flexible hours, stock options, key opportunities that lead to others in the future area also benefits.

Pursuing a Desire Requires Tradeoffs

The perfect job would be one where you’re making a big impact, acquiring lots of new skills, have a healthy work/life balance, and incredible rewards. I tell people this software development job doesn’t exist! These 4 career desires oppose each other. To get more work/life balance, you may need to sacrifice pay, or impact at times. To get an opportunity to have a bigger impact on a software project, you may need to grow less and use the skills you’re already really great at. The important point is to not expect the same level of growth in all 4 of these career desires.

Skip to Points in the Video

  • 00:00 Introduction
  • 00:55 The 4 Developer Career Desires
  • 01:28 The Desires Change Over Time
  • 03:03 Desire 1: Impact
  • 05:22 Desire 2: Growth
  • 07:11 Desire 3: Work/Life Balance
  • 08:56 Desire 4: Rewards
  • 10:41 The Perfect Job That Doesn’t Exist
  • 11:22 The 4 Desires Oppose Each Other
  • 12:18 Pursuing A Desire Is A Tradeoff
  • 12:55 A Call To Action!
  • 13:31 Next Time…
  • 13:44 Episode Groove


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About the Healthy Software Developer show.

On the show, Jayme shares all of his teamwork and leadership strategies, guidelines for healthy company culture, and stories about real projects so you can have a sustainable career in the software industry.

Develop a mindset and habits to keep you calm so you still love writing code - avoiding the traps most developers fall into.

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Jayme Edwards

A family man and veteran of over 30 software projects, Jayme experienced many wins and losses that led him to helping developers succeed in their careers online.