Developer Tea

Your Purpose is Not a Point in the Future

Episode Summary

Different ways to think about finding purpose.

Episode Notes

One of the most common topics for this show is the topic of finding purpose as a driven developer. In today's episode, we're talking about a different way to find purpose for yourself in the form of happiness.

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Episode Transcription

One of the most common topics on Developer Tea and on a lot of other piecasts, by the way, we're certainly not unique in this particular regard, is the topic of finding purpose. In fact, it's one of the pieces of the mission of the show to find clarity, perspective, and purpose in your careers as a driven developer. But there can be some misconceptions about what finding purpose really looks like, what it feels like for the given person. And I want to talk today about kind of a different way of thinking about finding your purpose and frame this kind of in the lens of finding happiness for yourself. Or fulfillment may be a better word. Happiness is difficult to understand, and there's a lot of research around happiness. Most of it just affirms how difficult it is to understand. There are some things that we've learned about fulfillment and about satisfaction for humans, and we won't belabor the point of what it takes to be happy. There's entire books and entire other piecasts about finding happiness. But what we will do for a moment is discuss this idea of purpose. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, and you're listening to Developer Tea, and we've already talked about our purpose for this show. My hope here is that we can redefine the way we think about our goals, our career goals. It's easy to imagine that a goal is some far off target. And we're on a journey just to arrive. That the arrival is the point. And perhaps this is natural for us to imagine that there is some end point to all of this story that we have in our career, all of these twists and turns that we're taking along the way, that we're headed somewhere. And once we get there, we've accomplished the thing we set out to accomplish. It seems natural, right? It seems like all that we do in our careers culminates in some kind of final moment, this shipping moment, if you will. When we ride our code, we ship it to production. And that's the moment that we are waiting for, and things are complete, in a sense. But the picture that this paints, at least in the worst-case scenario, is a picture of someone who is willing to endure a very long, arduous, and frankly, not very enjoyable path. That the purpose is the only thing that matters, and that purpose is at the very end of that path. And this picture is discouraging for a handful of reasons. One is that imagine that you spend all of this time to almost make it to your goal, and then for one reason or another, you can't. This illusion that, in the end, all of this suffering will be worth it, that we finally arrived, and we can finally say that we're fulfilled. This feels incredibly problematic. So how can we think about this differently? I'd like to focus on the idea that purpose is some point in time. This is where I think we go wrong. Instead, if we can imagine that our purpose and our careers is not a point in time or a place that we arrive, but instead something that we become, or some mode that we operate in, some truth about the worlds or about ourselves that can't really be bound to timeline, or external circumstances, instead, this work that we're doing to accomplish our purpose is more about learning to love the how. When we say learning to love the how here, we mean instead of learning to accept the how for the why, in other words, learning to just be okay with however we have to do things in order to achieve some particular why, some purpose. Instead, we can learn to love the how as our purpose. This might have drastic implications, by the way, for your day-to-day work. Instead of cutting corners in order to make it to the next career goal that you have, you might choose to take the hard way. To do things in a way that is more fulfilling and more in line with the way that you think you should be working, not compromising on quality. The difficult and perhaps empowering truth is that we don't know how long we have to seek after some purpose. We don't know what trip we're going to take and what fortune will come by. All we can know for certain is what is present in front of us. In order to live your purpose now rather than just seeking your future purpose, encourage you to find ways to learn to love the how. Learn to appreciate even in the mundane tasks that you have as a developer finding ways to take pride in the work that you do and to appreciate the people that you can do it with. These are the most effective ways to build lasting purpose. To avoid the sense of resentment that everyone is in your way rather than seeing everyone that you work with as part of the way. Ultimately, as you try to learn about your personal goals, your personal values, and ultimately your purpose, encourage you to think about every day as equally valuable and uncertain as the day before and the day after. Think about purpose and your values in terms of what you have in front of you, not where you're headed. If you care deeply about making an impact on the team that you work with, don't wait until you're a manager to make that impact. You can start in your internship to make an impact on the team around you. Begin to question your assumptions about how your purpose can apply to your career today. When you question those assumptions, what you'll find is that much of what you expected to be necessary in order for you to fulfill your purpose is about the restrictions and restraints around you, not the things inside of you. Ask yourself each day, how am I acting in alignment with my personal values and purpose today? Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. If you found this episode helpful and valuable, I encourage you to subscribe and whatever podcasting up you're currently using. We release a lot of these episodes and building a good habit of listening to them, even if you don't listen to all of them. The best way to do that to pick the ones that are most relevant to you is to be able to see them on a regular basis and choose when you want to put that into your schedule. So go ahead and subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use today. Today's episode also wouldn't be possible without and a wonderful producer Sarah Jackson. I'm your host Jonathan Cutrell and until next time, enjoy your tea.