Developer Tea

Listen To This In You're Feeling Stuck

Episode Summary

If you're feeling stuck right now, this is the episode for you.

Episode Notes

The feeling of being stuck is hard and emotionally draining. In today's episode, we're providing strategies to help you get unstuck when you find yourself in it and offering tools when you're in the middle of being stuck.

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Episode Transcription

You're listening to this episode right now because you or a friend, someone you know, feels stuck. Or maybe you have felt stuck, maybe you expect that you might feel stuck in the future. And if you don't feel stuck, then encourage you to keep this episode in your back pocket because you'll most certainly will. At some point in your life, feel stuck. And I want to extend kind of a future projection of empathy for anyone who's listening to this episode right now, going through that feeling. Feeling stuck is hard. It's emotionally draining. And sometimes there's nothing you can really do about it. In today's episode, I want to try to provide you some strategies for what you can do when you're stuck to try to get unstuck. But also, if you can't get unstuck, maybe it's out of your control, how you can deal with it a little bit better. My name is Jonathan Cutrell and you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal in this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in your careers. So what does it mean exactly to be stuck? You may have an overwhelming sense of monotony, a sense of boredom, which we talked about recently on the show, or maybe you have a sense that you are kind of trapped, that you're headed down a path that you wouldn't choose for yourself, but that you unfortunately don't feel like you can change. A very common feeling for developers, both kind of microcosmically and a given day and also macrocosmically in our careers at a kind of a larger level, is to feel like you're trying to do something, you're trying to achieve some particular goal over and over and over and you can't seem to achieve it. And so it feels like you're hitting your head against a wall over and over and hoping for a new result and none ever comes. In some cases, this kind of stuck feeling can produce anxiety or depression or the other way around, having some kind of depression or anxiety can produce the feeling of stuckness. Now I want to be clear that the things that we talk about in today's episode are not holistic treatments for anxiety or depression. Those are the kinds of things that you want to talk to your doctor about. So as always, please take everything we say on this episode and every other episode of Developer Tea with a grain or a tablespoon or a whole canister of salt. Okay, so we're going to talk about four things that can help you get unstuck and these can work in the moment. They can also work in long term scenarios. But as usual, this is not a comprehensive list of ways that you might get unstuck. This is a springboard. You can go and find more ways to think about your current situation a little bit differently. So that's the goal here. The goal is to get you motivated to think about your current situation slightly differently. But sometimes it's not just about thinking and that brings us to our first point here. Sometimes it's about your literal surroundings. I want you to consider literally changing your physical location in your visual surroundings. Especially your visual surroundings. There's a few ways you can do this. Of course, in the moment, it makes sense to get outside, go take a walk. If you can do it in nature, if you can kind of put your phone in your pocket and take a walk in nature, there's a whole slew of research about this that we won't get into. But taking a walk, maybe a 15 to 20 minute walk, doing that on a regular basis can totally change your mental state. If you can disengage from whatever the problem is that you're trying to solve, especially in these walks can be incredibly helpful. If it's more of a long-term scenario, consider changing your visual surroundings even in your room. If you rearrange where your bed is in your room, this kind of change can trigger your brain to have to do new things, to consider that layout. And it seems small, but making these small changes is really what it's about. Finding ways to get unstuck while you do that one inch at a time. Not in a big leap or bound. And that brings us to number two, which is do something smaller. If you're feeling stuck in your career, then do something small. Maybe that's as simple as updating your LinkedIn profile or connecting with a few other developers, or maybe it's as simple as writing a blog post. If you're feeling stuck on a big problem that you have to solve, then start by solving a smaller problem. And here's another critical factor of getting unstuck. Remember that your brain is holistically stuck. This is not about being stuck in one particular area. This affects your entire well-being. It affects your entire way of seeing the world. So choosing to do something small like cleaning your bed or doing a couple of jumping jacks whenever you wake up in the morning or keeping a habit like drinking enough water every day. These seemingly very small things can give you a sense of agency and they can also add up. In other words, you actually want to do these small things. These small things are affecting your situation. But unfortunately what often happens when we're stuck is we tend to neglect the small things because we're so focused on the big thing. And those small things begin to pile up. And it only adds to that sense that we are stuck and we're never going to get caught up, for example. OK, we have two more things. But first, I want to talk to you about today's sponsor, StackBid. Static sites in the Jamstack are growing fast. And front end developers already get that. It's fast, it's secure. And as a developer, you get full control over the markup and the design. There's pretty much no downsides. And it ends up saving you a lot of money, usually. But convincing clients to go static hasn't been very easy. How will they update their content? This is kind of the biggest question. Where is the CMS? Mainstream adoption of Jamstack in a commercial context relies largely on solving that particular issue. And this is where StackBid comes in. StackBid lets you build and deploy a full Jamstack site with pretty much any of your most favorite static site generators and a headless CMS in just a few clicks. You can already choose from about a dozen prebuilt themes for Hugo, Jackal, and Gatsby, and connect to Forestry, Netlify CMS, Data CMS, or Contentful. On top of that, StackBid just released custom things. So now you can import your own themes built on any static site generator, including the ones above plus grid sum, viewpress, and others. Just add a single StackBid.yaml file and define your content models and your theme is ready to connect to any headless CMS. StackBid allows you to test the strengths and weaknesses of the popular headless CMSes, and you can do that quickly, allowing you to explore which one is right for the client or the project. Last of all, the source code for sites you provisioned through StackBid is stored right back in your own Git repo. So you can continue to design and develop locally without compromising your developer workflow. Over to slash Developer Teato feel the magic, and let us know what you think at slash Developer Tea. Thank you again to StackBid for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. So we're talking about ways of getting unstuck. It's feeling that you can't quite get out of whatever situation you're in, or something is inevitably about to happen. We've got two more strategies. We've already talked about the first two strategies. Literally changing your physical location, your visual surroundings, particularly doing things like going for a walk or changing up whatever you're looking at on a regular basis. The second one is do something smaller, accomplish something smaller. The third thing that we're going to talk about is to give yourself effort boundaries. This is really critical for people like me, and I'm sure there are a lot of you who are listening who are the same way, giving yourself effort boundaries means that there are some kind of limits on how much time you will spend trying to solve the same problem. Now this is especially true if your efforts, your added efforts in particular, don't necessarily contribute to your success. If you feel stuck and you keep on trying new things and you're continuously failing, then it's probable. Not even just possible, but probable that taking a break more often will yield better results. Not only will it yield better results on the actual problem, but you're going to be a much saner person in the long run. Other kinds of effort boundaries, let's say that you are waiting on an important email or an important phone call, and you feel stuck because that email just isn't coming through and you can't really seem to wrap your head around why. Having an effort boundary might mean that you only allow yourself to check email once in the morning and once in the evening. This can prevent the otherwise kind of automatic behavior of constantly refreshing your inbox. Effort boundaries are incredibly helpful and it's not just to maintain balance in your life. It's also helpful to actually being more effective in the problems that you're trying to solve. The fourth and the final strategy that I want to share with you is to put your core assumptions on trial. This is the most detailed and difficult to grasp strategy. We're probably going to talk about this in an additional episode in the future at some point, but putting your core assumptions on trial. In other words, consider the beliefs that are contributing to your current situation, whatever those beliefs are, and put them on trial. In other words, ask yourself, is this belief actually true? What evidence do I have that has given me this belief? What is the rationality that I've provided to myself that has resulted in this belief? Have I rationalized the belief itself or have I arrived at the belief through rational means? Another way to do this, another kind of approach for this, is to use something from a previous guest of the show, Annie Duke, Annie recommends thinking in bets. In fact, that's the name of Annie's book, Think in Bet. So in other words, imagine yourself putting a bet on the table that your belief is actually true. How much would you put down on the table? Consider on a scale of 0 to 100 percent how much you actually believe whatever that belief is. Put your core assumptions on trial. Now, here's the interesting thing about this particular exercise. You can do this even when you don't feel stuck. This exercise is incredibly valuable to personal growth in the first place. We all have a lot of assumptions. We all have a lot of beliefs that we've kind of arrived at and we haven't really questioned them. Questioning your beliefs might lead you to make some really important life decisions. So take this exercise very seriously if you do decide to do it because the results may end up with you questioning quite a few things about your decisions, quite a few things about your current situation and in that kind of tumultuous environment, you're likely to feel a sense of momentum, you're likely to feel a sense that no, in fact, you aren't stuck, that your current situation is less static than you had expected. Encourage you whenever you are doing these exercises to remind yourself and this is really critical that sometimes things happen that are out of our control. In fact, most things that happen are out of our control. And the few things that are within our sphere of influence within our control, we sometimes can't perceive perfectly. Sometimes we don't know what the right thing is to do and that's okay. Sometimes being stuck is just a part of your experience being a human. So I encourage you to observe the way that you respond to being stuck and consider if you are trying to fast forward in your life. Are you trying to jump ahead to the point where you're no longer stuck? Imagine taking those days that you wanted to fast forward off of the end of your life. Is that a trade that you're willing to make? If not, then consider taking the time and the space to appreciate whatever it is that you're going through. This is not easy to do. An appreciation doesn't necessarily mean liking whatever you're going through, but it may mean appreciating the fact that you have something to go through. Meaning that every step is a part of your journey. And you don't have to get philosophical. You don't have to go into the mountains and meditate for hours on end to arrive at these conclusions. But instead, take a moment each day to consider if you are trying to slow the day down, if you're trying to speed the day up or if you are allowing the day to happen as it will. The interesting thing is if you try to speed the day up, if you try to slow it down, you're going to fail. This is not something that we can do as humans. We can't fast forward in time and we can't tell the future. So any attempt that we make to do that, we're preoccupying ourselves with a false reality. And when we preoccupy ourselves with a false reality, we're missing the true reality that's in front of us. I encourage you to live each day with that true reality in its full form, no matter what you're going through. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode. Thank you again to StackBet for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. Head over to slash Developer Teato get started today that's slash Developer Tea. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed today's episode, if this was a useful at all, then I encourage you to subscribe and whatever podcasting app you're currently using, this will make sure that you don't miss out on future episodes of the show, which there will be a lot of. We do three episodes a week and so it's easy to miss out. Go ahead and subscribe so you don't. Thank you to today's producer, Sarah Jackson. My name is Jonathan Cutrell. And until next time, enjoy your tea.