Someone asked me:
“What should you do when you lose the enthusiasm for coding?”
I got tired of working as a software developer 3 or 4 times in my career. Maybe more. I had burnouts as well, and I didn’t even know what burnout was until a couple of years ago. 😆
Losing the enthusiasm for coding can be normal: it’s hard to do the same thing, day in day out, and not get sick of it after so many years.
But if you are experiencing burnouts every 1-2 years, this is a sign. You need to stop and think deeply about the reasons behind that.
Are you taking care of your mental health? Are you happy with your life? Are you happy with yourself?
Or maybe you have to re-examine your perspective about life and work.
Don’t be a coffee-drinking burnout-seeking coding machine
For a very long time in my career, I could never allow myself to take any paid time off. Yes, it was bad.
One time, I worked so many extra hours on a job that they had to pay me a full extra month! Not because they wanted to, they had to for legal reasons.
You can probably understand how unhealthy this is. Burning out and jumping from one job to another. Never taking any breaks. Never having the space to think about what you want out of life.
And to be completely honest, it’s because I didn’t know how to relax and enjoy time off. I was always thinking about the next big thing, the next step to take. I was living life on Autopilot.
The funny thing about it is that I don’t think I was ever really tired of coding. I was mostly tired of all the bullshit:
- useless meetings
- not having agency and autonomy to make my own decisions
- building features on a product no one will ever use
- fighting with crappy tools
- shiny new tool syndrome and general hype-driven development fatigue
- toxic cultures and pointless competition
If you don’t want to write code anymore, don’t!
What I’ve learned from those experiences is that you have to take it easy sometimes. Don’t be so harsh on yourself.
The wrong way to go about it is to try and force yourself to do something you don’t want to do anymore. Take a month off of work if you can, and stop coding. Or maybe take a full year off, who cares? Go offline, focus on other hobbies that don’t involve technology.
It’s very easy to be sucked into the tech vortex and feel like you have to learn everything, read HackerNews every day, add more tech articles to the massive list of tabs on your browser… This is so exhausting.
Some other reasons behind all the information overload and stress:
- Not having any other hobbies that don’t involve technology and computers
- All of your friends are developers and all they want to talk about is tech
- Staring at a screen all day, every day
Close all your tabs - right now!
If you have 10,000 tabs open in your browser, it’s time to close them. Seriously.
If you have a plugin to manage and sync tabs across devices, that’s one of the reasons you are so stressed out all the time.
Every tech article you add to your read list, every HackerNews tab you open, adds another bit of cognitive burden to your day.
The fear of missing out, the shame of not being “up-to-date” on the latest tech will make your life miserable.
And it’s a choice. It’s completely up to you. You can always let these things slip and start fresh every day.
Some software vendors and tech evangelists want you to believe that technology is changing exponentially. It’s not! Most of the shiniest, latest tech is just a re-packaging of very old ideas (nihil sub sole novum).
Find some non-tech hobbies
The easiest way to get out of the vortex is to pick up new (non-tech) hobbies and do something different. Here are some ideas for you:
- Hang out with people from different backgrounds
- Find new hobbies (hiking, cycling, cooking, painting…)
- Go to a woodworking meetup
- Join Toastmasters and learn public speaking
- Learn how to play the banjo
Work with something new
Sometimes moving to a different team or different company with a better culture, or working with different tech, can help you get excited about coding again.
It’s always refreshing to work on new stuff, especially if you don’t have much experience with it. Being a newbie again and getting curious can help you rekindle your passion about software development.
The thing that helped me the most is Meditation. More specifically, Self-Compassion Meditation. This changed my life completely.
You can learn to accept yourself just as you are.
Be able to forgive yourself for your mistakes and shortcomings. This will open up so many new possibilities in your life.
Try it out and see it for yourself!
Let me know if you’ve adopted any of these ideas into your life. I’m sure they’ll help you get some new perspective and I hope you find more happiness in your life!
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