Do you see yourself coding up until retirement?
For many of us, coding is the endgame. You’ll certainly make plenty of money and live a comfortable life doing so. Nothing wrong with that.
But for some of us, coding is merely a stepping stone. A stepping stone into the prime phases of our career where it’s difficult to imagine spending 40 hours a week behind a computer.
And that feeling is understandable. Think about the most influential people at your companies. They probably spend very little of their time coding, if any. Don’t get me wrong, they could have spent a majority of their lives coding, but in the current peak of their careers, they’re likely not coding at all.
So what’s next after development? I see four common paths.
This is the most counter-intuitive path to me. I went into coding to work less with people, but as a manager, you primarily work with people. That said, this is the realistic path for most. Every company needs managers, and, you can officially take yourself out of the rat race of keeping up with technology hard skills. For many, our backgrounds and growing maturity will naturally lead us here.
This is the pinnacle of the individual contributor ladder. It’s the path I hear most up-and-coming developers refer to as their endgame. Make no mistake, it’s the most challenging technical path and it requires you to be world class in a broad range of technical skills. On top of this, you will need to have the soft skills to influence teams without having a formal team of your own to supervise.
Start Your Own Company
Here, you do exactly what you want and forget about what anyone else might say. This is the only position where no one still tells you what to do. It’s perhaps the most fulfilling path of them all, but it’s also the riskiest by far. Few of us have what it takes to be successful here, but the ones who are will probably be the envy of us all.
I hate to say but this is probably the path of least resistance. Forgo much of your experience, value, and earning potential, then find the next best thing to learn and master. This is not the ideal path to be on, but it’s the path many of us will be forced onto if we do not plan carefully. There’s nothing wrong choosing this path, it’s just a tough pill to swallow hitting the reset button on your career.
This decision is a difficult and courageous one to make at any phase of your career.
I often wonder for myself what I’ll be doing down the line, and, I often catch myself running away from the question entirely.
One thing I do know – NOT planning my career is the riskiest path of them all.