One Piece of Advice for All My Programmer Friends

And for your programmer friends and friends of your friends.

This article is also available in portuguese.

Have long-term goals. Seriously.

That’s the advice, plain and simple. Because if you don’t have any idea where you want to go in life, then anywhere is good enough. And that’s pretty bad.

See, you have a certain amount of money, opportunities, education, time, social capital, etc. And clearly we all have limitations, but long-term goals help you plan these resources way better.

Now you must go and:

Set out very clearly what you want your life to be. Where do you want to work, what kind of job do you want to be doing, with who, for whom, how much do you want to make, what do you want to eat and drink?

Be optimistic and realistic, and research a lot.

Now let this newly acquired, laser-focused objective be the compass of your decisions. As soon as you decide to work for Google, every decision you are presented with gets easier: either it will bring you a few inches closer or further from Mountain View.

Adapt your objectives according to your current conditions. “Well, my dream job startup just went bankrupt.” You learned a lot so far, how can you adapt?

Following this procedure is hard and requires, most of all, a strict sense of discipline. But that is going to help you invest your time and energy in a smarter way.

“But why should I listen to you?” #

Photo by Eunice Lituañas on Unsplash

Because you are just like me.

A simple human being, biologically incapable of dealing with long-term goals and consequences, living in the age of instant gratification.

And an adult, reasonably comfortable life depends on good and well-directed work. I mean, at the same time it’s never been easier to waste an entire weekend binging on entertainment.

Hard times, huh?

That’s why a clear, well defined, future-focused plan is useful and gets you back on track.

How to define your goal #

Because focus without a good direction really doesn’t help.

Your long-term goal must be:

1. Specific

You must define what you want in the most specific manner possible, no ambiguity.

You must, at all times, know what you want to do, when, how, and why (that’s the critical part), and what kind of obstacles you are going to face.

2. Measurable

This one is pretty simple, you must know, weekly, if you are getting closer or further from your objective. But how can you do this?

Now, when you have finally decided what your long-term goal, your life’s MAIN QUEST is, then you must list in a very detailed manner what you must do to get there.

That list is going to give you a very rewarding sense of progress while you tick off every item.

3. Attainable

You know your limits better than everyone else, and an unattainable, unrealistic objective will only bring you frustration.

What I’m trying to say is if you have never even cooked a Kraft meal it might be a bit far-fetched to plan to work at a 3-star Michelin restaurant in 3 months.

Be optimistic but stay wise. You have to define a challenge that is hard enough to keep you focused but easy enough to be attainable.

4. Relevant

Your long-term goal must be aligned with your short and medium term counterparts.

That is, if you want to become a Senior React Developer, it might not be the best idea to work with C# developing cooperative software. It must be something that makes all the sweat and dedication worth it.

5. Time-based

Your goal must have an expiration date. Otherwise, procrastination might hit you bad.

A target on your calendar may inspire a deep sense of urgency.

And if you have found any of those 5 points a bit familiar…

That’s because those points are called SMART goals, I used this framework a lot back when I was learning more about digital marketing and guess what, it works wonders for personal goals as well.

And as a final example, my long-term goal is:

By the time I’m thirty, I’ll be the kind of professional that conferences pay to present their ideas and cool projects.

I decided that was what I wanted for me after I met a UX Designer that does just that.

But that’s a story for another week.