Working out what is enough
We’re constantly faced with the question of “Should I maintain what I have or work more to get a bit more”. It’s not always an easy one to answer. More often than not, I feel inclined to go for the extra little push. Part of this is a personal trait but there is some social benefit to note that your are going for more. The bigger the challenge, that greater the commitment. That larger commitment makes a stronger statement about your character. People respond differently to statement about you running a 10k or a Marathon. Yet, if you were to say that you don’t want to reach for more, it can feel like setting personally or be perceived as being lazy by others. In certain situations, not engaging with more can even feel risky.
Profession and Growth
I write code for a living. If I were to stop attempting to learn more and develop more advanced skill sets, my utility to the team would drop. My work is an educational treadmill. That treadmill is driven by the collaborative nature of how code is developed. Advancements are not hinged on anyone individual’s work. People all over the world are contributing to the programming language. Each development changes the shape and potential of the field. Not everything is going to be a change for the better, but much of it is.
My goal isn’t to become a leading developer in my field. The goal is to maintain employment that enables me to provide stability for my family while providing me with an autonomy and unique set of problems to solve. If I really believe in that goal, the treadmill develops a few new controls. The target is not some absolute out there among the 8 billion other people in the world. The marker is set by understanding who I was yesterday and how I can take a step forward today.
This realization doesn’t change the fact that I still need to grow and learn as a programmer to stay relevant. It simply puts some handrails on the rate of the process. How much my time and energy do I really need to put into the process. Enough is easy to define because it is not some absolute measure or stopping point. Enough is a dampener on the rate of change.
Enough for the long term
There is an undeniable truth that we have a limited amount of time and an even more limited amount of attention to give. Our application of that time and attention shapes the individual that we will become. That simple question of ‘what is enough’ becomes a powerful evaluation tool for understanding your long-term goals.