Dealing With Stagnation in Software Development

Adam Drake
6 min read5 days ago
This was created by the fingers of magic we call AI

It’s inevitable that if you do something for long enough that at certain points you are going to become bored and frustrated with that thing. Whether it’s running , cooking, dancing or in our case Software Development it’s going to happen and it can really throw some people off. It can bring all sorts of doubts, unwanted feelings of shame and real moments of panic — “I thought this was my passion, how can I be bored?!” or “I thought I loved what I did, I shouldn’t feel like this.” or “I’m not a real developer if I feel like this.”

In this article I want to share my thoughts and strategies I have incorporated over the years to deal with these scenarios.

These Thoughts Are Perfectly Normal

Let’s start with the thoughts themselves. These thoughts of boredom or frustration are perfectly normal and can arise for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you’re just tired, maybe you’ve been doing the same thing for far too long or maybe you’ve just had a crappy week where everything you’ve touched seemed to break.

It can bring all sorts of doubts, unwanted feelings of shame and real moments of panic — “I thought this was my passion, how can I be bored?!” or “I thought I loved what I did, I shouldn’t feel like this.” or “I’m not a real developer if I feel like this.”

The point is these thoughts can and will arise so adding feelings of guilt or shame to the mix really isn’t going to help. There has to be a certain level of detachment when observing these thoughts and seeing them for what they truly are. Think of them like clouds in the sky. They come, they drift across our consciousness and then they float away. If you become closely attached to each of these thoughts they are going to play havoc in your life.

Are These Temporary Thoughts Or Something More?

Observing these thoughts with a certain level of detachment will allow you to notice specific things about these thoughts, much more so than if you were getting lost down rabbit holes of guilt and shame.

The main point here is to not have a knee jerk reaction to certain thoughts that you may come later to regret.

Although these thoughts might be temporary, they could be giving you certain hints or indications that something isn’t quite right. COULD being the important word right here. But if the same thoughts and feelings of boredom are consistently arising then it might be time to dig a little deeper.

You can ask yourself some questions like:

  • Do these thoughts always arise when I am doing the same activity?
  • How long have I been having these thoughts?
  • How often am I having these thoughts? Every day? Every week?

The main point here is to not have a knee jerk reaction to certain thoughts that you may come later to regret. By taking the time to analyse these thoughts you will be able to understand them better and then take more appropriate action.

When Was Your Last Evolution?

I strongly believe in staying in one place long enough that you feel at ease but not too long that you become too comfortable. Comfort is a killer, plain and simple. If you get too comfortable somewhere then you start becoming complacent. You’re a little bit slower, a little more arrogant and you will lose your edge.

If you find your mind wandering too much and these thoughts of boredom and frustration arising often then maybe it is time to take stock and seriously think about a change.

Being comfortable however does give your mind time to wander. This can be a good thing, especially in an age where it seems there is always something trying to grab our attention. However, if you find your mind wandering too much and these thoughts of boredom and frustration arising often then maybe it is time to take stock and seriously think about a change.

I know that change is scary, I get it. Especially if you’re in a comfortable position and receiving some nice compensation. But if you are not excited or challenged by what you do on a regular basis then you have to seriously consider you options. You soul is slowly dying when comfort becomes too large a part of your life. It’s a fine balance though and a dance we all must learn ourselves.

The main thing is being aware of where you’re at in life. If you’re super comfortable at work but have a manic home life, having young children for example, then maybe it isn’t time to change. But at the same time if you are bored and frustrated at work you will be bringing that energy home with you so it can quickly compound.

Change Can Be a Breath of Fresh Air

Throughout my career I have always found change breathes new life into me. Whether it was being forced to change through redundancy or choosing to change as a new opportunity presented itself to me.

I think I have been lucky in some respects but I also think I am wired to move on when I feel things getting too stagnant. I notice this stagnation creeping in through little signs throughout the day — finding myself doing the same thing on a regular basis, having the same conversation with the same person about the same thing or feeling a general lack of enthusiasm on the way to work a bit too often.

When I feel these things I know it’s time for a change. To elaborate on change — it doesn’t have to be anything drastic like quiting your job and finding a completely new company. It can be simple things like choosing to work on a different project, choosing to learn a new programming language to implement some helpful tool at work or asking to switch teams in your current company.

The point here is to get that enthusiasm and excitement back into your day to day working. I truly believe it is very important to have that enthusiasm in your work. That spark that drives and focuses your energy. It becomes infectious and can spread to those working closely around you. It makes your whole day and working environment so much better.

Speak to Those Around You

I have often found it helpful to speak to those around me. Those that are close to me or with those who I’ve built up a certain level of trust. In so many cases they have really helpful insights as they see things from a different level.

It also helps sometimes to voice your thoughts and concerns out loud as it forces you to form and articulate your thoughts in more concise language which sometimes can reveal certain things that otherwise would have remained hidden.

Conclusion

Stagnation can creep into all areas of our life and especially in our professional life. To be aware of this stagnation and when to listen to your inner thoughts is a real skill. It requires moments or real reflection and knowing when to listen to one’s self. Knowing when to change and knowing when there is still room to grow in the position you’re in. Speak to those around you that you trust and see what insights you can gather from that.

I have found if you are really not sure then toss a coin — ‘Should I stay — heads, should I go — tails?’ Then whatever side of the coin lands you will instantly know. You will get an instant gut reaction to the fate the coin has dealt you and if that feeling is relief then go with the coin, if it’s disappointment go the other way.

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About me

I am a Frontend Developer working mainly with React and Typescript in my day-to-day professional life. I love exploring new tools and libraries and love the Javascript Ecosystem.

I like to write blog posts that share exciting new tools I’ve discovered, how-to articles, and also the occasional opinion piece.

I live in Prague in the Czech Republic with my family.

Check out the original blog post on my blog.

Check out my LinkedIn and Github if you are interested.

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Adam Drake

I'm a Frontend Developer and I write about all things Frontend Related - Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world. Based in Prague, CZ