Issue 12 – What Do You Really Want?


Welcome back to The Modern Software Developer. In this month’s issue, I’m talking about taking a step back, building awareness about what your day-to-day looks like and comparing it to how you’d like it to be… I’m asking the $64,000 question, “What do you really want?”.

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But before we get into that, I want to cover two things:

I bang on about mindset, communication and mental and physical wellbeing as a software developer, but I’m acutely aware that we can’t neglect our technical skills.

That being said, I wanted to share with you some people from my LinkedIn community and their newsletters. I’m confident every one of them will add value to your software development journey. 👍

They are:

👉 Harley Ferguson > The 10x Developer > https://askharley.me/
👉 John Crickett > Coding Challenges > https://lnkd.in/e6iTgiAq
👉 Guille Ojeda > Simple AWS > https://www.simpleaws.dev/
👉 Jordan Cutler > High Growth Engineer > https://lnkd.in/efGxkq7U
👉 Gregor Ojstersek > Engineering Leadership > https://lnkd.in/ePGDYpQ8

The second thing, you can find the entirety of my series on Imposter Syndrome here:

👉 Is it really Imposter Syndrome?
👉 5 Key Influences Behind Imposter Syndrome
👉 My Imposter Syndrome Story
👉 How to Beat Imposter Syndrome

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With that done, let’s get down to the big question…

The Problem

Asking ourselves what we want is something that many of us often forget to do.

We can get so caught up in life’s day-to-day routines and responsibilities that we forget to stop and reflect on what truly drives us, what makes us happy, and what we want to achieve.

Software developers are no exception. Many of us spend countless hours at our desks, deep in code, and forget to take a step back and ask ourselves, “What do I really want?”.

It’s all too easy to exist in a state of habitual living rather than purposefully considering what we want and then going for it. I know; I’ve been there.

👉 Spoiler Alert —> I have something to help you with this at the bottom of this newsletter…

We will explore how to make this question less daunting so that it leads us to, quite frankly, a happier existence. But before we do that, you might be thinking, “Why?” Or, “How is such a simple thing actually going to help me?”.

So let’s cover that first; it’s going to help you:

👉 Build awareness about what your life really looks like.
👉 Be more purposeful and ultimately help you feel happier.
👉 Become more decisive (and who doesn’t want to be more decisive?).

Building Awareness

Once you’ve identified your “Wants” and “Don’t Wants”, which we’ll cover shortly, the next step is to build awareness around them. This means paying attention to when they occur in your day-to-day life, both positively and negatively.

You can do this by tracking when they show up in your day.

Again —> I have something to help with this…

For example, if one of your “Wants” is to be more physically active, you can record every time you go for a run or hit the gym.

Similarly, if one of your “Don’t Wants” is to spend too much time on social media, you can record every time you catch yourself mindlessly scrolling through your feed.

By tracking these occurrences, you start to recognise patterns and gain insight into your behaviours and habits. You can see when and where you’re most likely to engage in certain activities or thoughts and use this information to make changes that align with… you got it, what you want rather than what you don’t want….

The benefits are huge; you’re breaking out of the monotonous daily routine and seeing things for what they really are. You start to see areas where you can make changes and identify potential roadblocks or obstacles to achieving your goals. You can also celebrate your successes and use them as motivation to keep going.

More Decisive

After identifying your “Wants” and “Don’t Wants” and building awareness around them, you can use your list to inform your decisions. This means taking the time to consider how your choices align with… what you really want.

You can ask yourself, “Does this align with my ‘Wants’?” or “Will this introduce one of my ‘Don’t Wants’?” before making a decision.

For example, if you’re considering taking on a new project at work, you can ask yourself if it aligns with your career goals or if it will count towards one of your “Don’t Wants”, such as working long hours or missing out on family time.

Making small changes based on these considerations can lead to small, meaningful improvements and a healthier, happier life.

Feeling Happier

Your life is filled with stuff, some of which you want and some of which you don’t want.

Over time, if you can increase the things you want and reduce the things you don’t want… I bet that you’ll be leading a much happier existence.

I probably can’t put it simpler than that.

Creating Your List

So how do you go about building this list..?

It’s a good question because people find it harder than you might realise.

I don’t know what I want…

You’ll be amazed at how many people simply don’t know what they want.

If you feel like this, you’re not alone, but read on…

They haven’t seriously given it any real consideration and certainly haven’t made a list.

For some people, the question, “What do you really want?” is actually quite overwhelming, and it’s no surprise. It sounds like you’re being asked to pluck the purpose for your entire existence out of thin air…

So what do we do when a problem is overwhelming?

You break it down or find some way to make it easier.

I know what I don’t want…

One way to make this easier is by flipping the question on its head. It’s amazing how much easier people find it to express what they don’t want rather than what they do want…

But we can go one better; we can make the problem smaller too.

We can break the question down into sections.

Rather than this giant, all-encompassing question of “What do/don’t you really want?” We can refine it slightly:

What DON’T you WANT in the context of:

👉 Your time
👉 Your family
👉 Your career
👉 Your hobbies
👉 Your mental health
👉 Your physical health

I bet that feels a little more manageable.

For example: Adding just one entry feels pretty easy. (but the more you add, the more clarity you’ll gain)

—> I DON’T WANT…

👉 Your time
…to spend time commuting

👉 Your family
…to be distracted when spending time with my children

👉 Your career
…my career to stagnate

👉 Your hobbies
…to be too busy that I can’t play squash

👉 Your mental health
…to feel angry / anxious / stressed…

👉 Your physical health
…to be overweight

Now to get started on your Wants list, you can break it down into the same categories.

What do you WANT in the context of:

👉 Your time
👉 Your family
👉 Your career
👉 Your hobbies
👉 Your mental health
👉 Your physical health

Super simple tip: —> Some of them can be the direct opposite of your DON’T WANTS to get you started.

Example WANTS:

—> I WANT…
👉 Your time
…to spend more time with family and friends

👉 Your family
…to be present with my children

👉 Your career
…to explore my options for growth

👉 Your hobbies
…to play squash 3 times a week

👉 Your mental health
…to feel positive / confident / optimistic

👉 Your physical health
… to be a healthy weight and feel energetic

Once you get started, the ideas soon start to flow, but even if you have just one or two entries in each section, that’s a great start compared to not having anything.

Another simple tip: —> Include things on your WANTS list even if you already have them.

This equates to being grateful for what you have, which is closely linked to happiness. On top of that, it reinforces that you wouldn’t want to do anything that would mean that thing was taken away or lost…

Reflecting On Your List

Regularly reflect on your lists to keep those entries front of mind. This will help you more easily recognise triggers for those things you don’t want and highlight opportunities for those things you do want.

You’ll soon be leaning on those wants and don’t wants to help guide your decision making while gaining clarity and awareness about your current circumstances… instead of just letting life pass you by with a thoughtless daily routine…

If you’re serious about making a change, you can commit to more purposefully including something from your WANTS list in each day and reduce or remove something from your day that’s on your DON’T WANTS list.

And to keep you motivated, you can record how many days you manage to do just that. And you can do all of this in my free fillable pdf wellbeing plan.

To repeat what I said earlier:

Your life is filled with stuff, some of which you want and some of which you don’t want.

Over time, if you can increase the things you want and reduce the things you don’t want… I bet that you’ll be leading a much happier existence.

I probably can’t put it simpler than that…

Conclusion

Personal development is a journey, an extremely rewarding journey. The hardest part is that you won’t see changes overnight. You really have to think of it as an investment in yourself which will pay off in years to come. It’s the ultimate practice in delayed gratification.

You’ll experience improvements along the way, and hopefully, they will be enough to motivate you to refine your approach and redefine what you believe you’re capable of.

Use my free wellbeing plan to make a start on your personal development journey, it will open your eyes and give you clarity, but it is only just scratching the surface. It’s then your responsibility to do something about the situation you find yourself in or simply carry on as normal.

It’s a great feeling when you can look back and say to yourself, I’m so glad I started on this path back then…

I wish I’d taken my personal development journey more seriously – physically, mentally and professionally – 10 years earlier than I did.

As the ancient Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now…

Remember

It’s not selfish to put yourself first; there’s nothing more important than your own wellbeing!

Know someone that might find this helpful? Do them a favour and share it with them.

Until next time…

How I can help you


Software Developers:

1. Join over 14000 people and follow me on LinkedIn 👉 Richard Donovan.
2. Book a Mindset Power Hour.
3. Improve your mental and physical wellbeing with Mindset coaching.

Software Development organisations:

1. Team Wellbeing Health Check
2. Developer Support Package



Make positive changes for yourself – Sign up and start your wellbeing plan today.


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Find out more about our software development team wellbeing health check


How I can help you

Software Developers:

1. Join over 14000 people and follow me on LinkedIn 👉 Richard Donovan.
2. Book a Mindset Power Hour.
3. Improve your mental and physical wellbeing with Mindset coaching.

Software Development organisations:

1. Team Wellbeing Health Check
2. Developer Support Package


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