Whether you’re a software engineer, consultant or a freelancer, we all have certain bad habits, or sins, that in moderation can be tolerated, but in excess would most likely cost us our careers, and I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to lose mine.
So I decided to write down the seven deadly sins of engineering, going through all the bad habits that I see in myself and other developers around me, in an attempt to hold myself accountable to my actions, and anyone else who read this word-vomit of mine, after all, we can’t claim ignorance, once we’ve been informed.
And if you’re wondering, yes, I did choose seven sins because it sounds cooler, don’t judge me, and deadly is an exaggeration, but to be honest, I would die if I lost my career and ended up homeless, I’m not equipped to handle the wilderness, so it’s not that much of a stretch.
I’ve always had this mental image of procrastination, as a small monster, that we feed by giving in to it. The more we listen to its whispering, the more it grows and gets a better hold of our lives. Mine is the size of the empire state if we’re being honest here, so I sought to make certain changes in my life, to no longer be this monster’s little bitch, if you’d pardon my French.
You’ll know that you suffer from this sickness if you wouldn’t put in any work in anything until the last second, and a bigger monster, called deadline shows up to whip your ass into shape.
My best advice is to try and set daily goals for yourself that you need to achieve before you hit the bed. Start small, and work your way up to bigger goals and tighter timelines, only then will you be a functional member of society again.
We all like to think of ourselves as the rebels, the rock stars and the cool kids on the block, so we fake indifference at times, and we fake it so well that we even convince ourselves, thinking that this persona is what will elevate our coolness and make life easy, while not knowing that there’s a reason most rock stars turn up dead before they hit 50.
Indifference in our work can be identified in not accomplishing some of our daily goals, just because we wanted to hang out with friends or spend the whole day binge-watching series. We can also notice it in the lack of desire to learn new technologies, and staying up to date with our work.
My answer for you here is simple ladies and gentlemen, whenever you feel indifferent about your work, imagine yourself fighting with a raccoon for a day old burger in the dumpster, that’ll get you caring real fast, and if that still doesn’t work, then maybe you can remind yourself of why you fell in love with coding in the first place, and remember all the people that count on you to bring your A-game every day.
But the raccoon scenario is the one that actually does it for me, and if I’m being honest here, I don’t think I can take it down, I’d starve.
None of us can deny the fact that money runs the world, and that to a certain extent we need it to make life better, but things start to go to shit when we allow it to run every part of our lives.
The second we start changing companies and dumping clients for slightly better pay, without giving any care to our personal happiness, and whether this new job will be fulfilling or not, that’s when we lose our happiness and turn to procrastination and indifference as a coping mechanism.
Take care of your mental health and personal happiness first people, then the money comes as a very distant second.
We all have that one story where we fired a client or left a job for pride, whether the client made your life hell, or your manager was actively trying to suck your soul out, because she’s a blood-sucking succubus, and in most cases I agree with people who leave for these reasons, after all as I was saying, your happiness comes first.
But then there are cases, where we sabotage ourselves and careers for pride, and the examples are infinite, such as refusing to admit a mistake, or not wanting to take someone’s advice despite them having more experience than you.
Keep your pride in check, and know when something is affecting your happiness, or just affecting your huge throbbing ego.
I mean this one is just obvious, deceit doesn’t only ruin careers, but relationships and life in general too. But what I’m here to preach against, is when we justify deceit as means to an end.
“Yes, I totally worked on this design for twenty hours, and didn’t spend most of the time screwing around and got all of this done at the last minute”, Or “Of course I finished that report you asked for, and I’m not rushing to my office right now to do it, because my attention span is that of a five-year-old, and I forgot to do it when you asked me to”.
At the end of the day, lies are lies, and if you ever get caught, no matter how small the lie is, you’ll lose that person’s respect and trust.
Okay, this one goes out to all of you red lanterns out there, first of all, I’m sorry if I offend you, and please don’t track me down and murder me in a fit of blind rage.
Anger is something we all struggle with, but the second we let it interfere with our life in general, and work particularly, that’s when things take a sharp turn to the worst.
If you feel like you’re about to explode and yell at a client or a manager, or do something you’d regret, take a breather and walk away you psychopath, most times you can’t take back what you said in anger and you’d regret it for the rest of your life, so try to keep a cool head and don’t take things personally, chances are the person that’s getting on your nerve, is having a bad day and didn’t mean anything they said or did.
You might ask me what’s the difference between sloth and procrastination, and to that, I answer, shut up, don’t put me on the spot here, I thought we were friends.
But in all seriousness, the difference between sloth and procrastination is very clear, we’re lazy if our motivation to spare ourselves effort trumps our motivation to do the right or best or expected thing, but unlike the lazybones the procrastinator aspires and intends to complete the task under consideration, and, moreover, eventually does complete it, albeit at a higher cost to himself.
Try to focus on your goals, and understand that you’re only hurting yourself, you’ll have plenty of time to rest when you’re dead.
At the end of the day, we’re all humans and we make mistakes more often than not, but the best thing about humanity is our never-ending quest to better ourselves and improve our life in general. It’s never too late to turn your career around, and it never will be, unless you’re dead, then it’s obviously too late, but you’re reading this, so get to work.