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Balance as a Software Engineer

March 02, 2016

I’ve been in the web development world for about 5 years now. There have been some highs and there have definitely been some lows. For the most part, I absolutely love what I do. Over the last 5 years I have probably faulted on the side of loving it too much.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” - Steve Jobs

My previous jobs didn’t come close to fulfilling me as much as programming does, but they also didn’t tempt me away from other areas of my life. I worked at FedEx for 6 years and I can’t remember ever staying up late to stack packages around my house… just for fun.

This is such a hard concept for me because I know there a tons of people out there who literally hate what they do professionally. I don’t admire them… Until it’s 2am and they are sound asleep while I am tossing and turning thinking about some stupid code issue that I was working on 10 hours ago.

The hard part is, there are tons of software engineers out there that are going day and night. They know all the new things and are even writing the newer things. What framework to use, Angular this, Redux that. It’s inspiring, but exhausting. (Andrew Del Prete, I’m looking at you…)

How do I stay up to speed, while also staying fulfilled in other areas of my life?

I have a beautiful wife and 2 year old daughter. I love spending time with them. I also have lots of friends that I don’t get to see enough. I love to play basketball and do ‘fitness’ things. I guess the challenge for me is I feel like it’s a one or the other kinda choice. Either you’re going to be a bad ass programmer who knows all the things, or your going to be a middle-of-the-barrel programmer who has other things going on in life.

By now you can probably see this is more of a personal rant than anything else. But it’s something real that has been in my head, especially since the addition of adding ‘Dad’ to my daily duties.

I love programming. I really do. But can it really coexist with real life?

All posts written by Jaymes Downer who is VP of Product at F&M. Follow him on Twitter or learn about his work history on LinkedIn

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