Why Development Is the Most Meaningful Work You’d Ever Find
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I don’t love programming.
I don’t always enjoy the fruits of my work.
I am not passionate about coding, architecting, leading, or the process of development, but this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the craft and find immense interest in it. I just don’t love it.
Perhaps you might think that such an attitude would mitigate me from doing great work. That I’d be better off in a different field that would be more aligned with my interests. Something that’d excite every bone in my body.
Quite the contrary. True, I don’t love the practice of programming, but I do find development to be overwhelmingly meaningful for a plethora of reasons.
The meaning that I’m able to easily find in my work is what allows me to enjoy my work and be formidable in my practice. And believe me, it’s stupidly easy to find development to be meaningful work regardless of what you’re building. I’ll explain why later. But first, let’s address the problem many people struggle with…
We’re often told that we can’t be great at what we do unless we’re passionate. So when we hear Steve Jobs preach that you’ve got to love what you do and be passionate, we take such advice to heart. The thing is, when that passion isn’t found, we fall into a depressive state questioning the meaning of all that we do.
Is programming an internal tool changing the world? Is writing test code something to really be passionate about? Is resolving old, dusty code really all that you’re meant to do?
News flash. Passion is an absolute garbage indicator of extraordinary results and overall happiness.
Passion doesn’t get you out of bed. Passion doesn’t discipline you. Passion doesn’t inspire you to keep marching forward regardless of the conditions you are put under. Passion doesn’t make your work meaningful; it just makes it fun. Who knows how long that feeling will last?
This is a mode of thought that we must avoid: The belief that passion is what we need. No, meaning is what we truly need. Stop relying on passionate feelings for they are unreliable. Fortunately, meaningful work is easily discoverable in every nook and cranny of your practice — all you need to do is look with intention.
The Meaning Weaved Beneath the Surface
See, I’m not a religious man. I’m very secular in my thinking and live according to existentialist philosophies. Yet, a large amount of my clientele lies within the realms of the religious space — a heavily underrepresented corner of technology that deserves more recognition. Now my clients’ views and beliefs don’t align with my own, so what I build for them isn’t particularly what I imagine to be groundbreaking or exciting.
Yet, I love my work. I love showing up. I love creating.
It doesn’t matter what I’m building. It doesn’t matter whether or not I enjoy the process. It doesn’t matter whether or not I agree with the beliefs or intentions of the people I work with.
The only thing that matters to me, and that should matter to you, is that I’m generating value. So long as I’m programming, building, and developing, I’ll always be providing immense value through nothing more than my mind as raw material.
Isn’t that extraordinary enough? I’m not changing the world by any extravagant means, but I’m providing immense value to a very focused amount of people.
In that way, I guess you can say that I am changing the world. I’m changing the world of the businesses I’m working with. I’m making their daily life easier. I’m allowing them to flourish and expand. I get to see them succeed.
And regardless of that business, it’s always sweet to know that I’m positively benefiting them. By benefiting them, I indirectly benefit everyone else that they provide their services for. It’s a domino effect.
That alone is enough to fill my heart. That alone makes my work immensely meaningful to me, for I love seeing the value that I create.
See, you don’t have to love coding. You don’t have to love your job. But know that as a developer, you uniquely can find meaning in every single piece of code you write. You always bear a token of control in what you create. You always get to contribute your mind to all that you output. That’s freedom. A freedom that allows you to feel as if all the value you create couldn’t have come to fruition without your unique hand.
Development is the most meaningful work out there. Simply just look and be grateful. That gratitude and feeling of contributing to something beyond yourself will take you very far — not only in your career but in your life.
Keep innovating my friends. Keep changing the world, one line of code at a time.