One Last Thing

This a chapter of the book Get a Better Developer Job. It’s best to start at the beginning.

I hope this helped.

I hope it didn’t make you feel bad or depressed or overwhelmed or hopeless.

I really hope it did the opposite. That you feel armed with knowledge. You can craft a plan and follow it and significantly increase your earnings and employability and personal freedom.

If you feel bad or confused, you can talk to me about it. I’ll try to help.

But I will share some life changing material that will help you right now.

The first is Optimism by Reginald Braithwaite. It’s a short article that blew me away. It’s based on the book Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman and it covers the way we explain the events in our lives to ourselves. And how those explanations follow patterns. And those patterns can have a huge impact on your success and mental wellbeing. Most importantly, that we can change those stories to change our minds.

I’ll give you a relevant example. Say you bombed an interview. You can say:

“I’m bad at interviews.”

Or instead:

“The interview today focused on design patterns, which I haven’t studied yet.”

The second statement is specific, impersonal, and temporary. That’s how optimists describe bad things to themselves. Whereas the first statement is general, personal, and permanent. That’s how pessimists describe bad things to themselves.

Moreover, the first statement is an identity statement. These are double edged swords. They are dangerous because they confuse what we do with who we are.

A book that illuminated that critical piece was How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. On its surface it’s a self-improvement book, but more deeply it’s a book about systems thinking.

After reading it, I realized that identity statements hide the actions you take – or fail to take. If you think of yourself as a good athlete, you may not consider how much you train and practice. Athlete’s enjoy this, so they do it regularly. And they work on getting better. Well, that is a system!

Likewise, if we don’t enjoy something, isn’t it easier to say we’re bad at it? Why, we’re not avoiding it, we’re focusing on our strengths. There’s a book somewhere that calls for that, right?

So when you believe you’re a bad interviewee, you’re granting yourself permission to not practice because it’s a permanent condition. And this applies to everything you don’t feel like doing. Maybe exercising. Meditating. And we all know that flossers are born, not made.

Adams also covers systems versus goals, which is also relevant. Most think their goal is to get a new job, and that goal appears only when necessary, like when you’ve been laid off. So now you have a goal for which you’re totally unprepared.

I’m not saying you need to prepare for interviews daily, but to know it’s a skill you can develop and has nothing to do with being bad or good.

I will say that a system of documenting your accomplishments weekly, following industry and programming trends, and continually improving skills in your stack will make you resilient. And if this career was a conscious choice, it won’t feel like work.

Here are some more resources for systems thinking and changing your mindset:

Thanks for reading!

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