What Are Your Career Goals?

I’ve recently joined a developer community dev.to. It is a really nice place where people spur discussions and ask questions that are not only related to technologies and software development but are incredibly important as well, for us as human beings constantly looking for meaning in life. One of these questions is moving: “What are your career goals?”

I’ve spent a decent hour writing and polishing the answer and it turns out to be so important and concise that I’d like to publish it on my own website. Publish in order not to lose it, share it with people who’re interested in me and emphasize this incredibly important reasoning I’ve happily derived from my latest experience. I hope my thoughts might be even helpful for those who constantly question their careers and even themselves.

My answer to the original question is below.

The Answer

This is one of my favorite questions I always enjoy asking myself and whoever related to tech I happen to speak with.

If I was asked before I quit my last job in February of this year I would be absolutely unsure. I had an intention to quit for about 2 years after I’d finally paid off all my debts and started saving money instead of wasting it. The reason to quit was that the job was well-paid, but not fulfilling. I felt bad because there was a lot of stress but no growth. And most importantly, after I first got my paid developer job more than 10 years ago I had never really been sure anymore if I was still passionate about it and if it was a “right” thing to do with my life. It took me 2 years to finally make the decision to quit and take a half-year vacation to calm down and find out what I want.

I guess it has worked out and I’ve come up with a few conclusions. First off, feeling fulfilled and useful is more about how you approach problems than what problems you solve. Both are crucial but I don’t actually believe in anything like destiny unless you’re the one who creates it. So while you’re dealing with arbitrary problems you happened to face, you still want to be enthusiastic, learn and develop your skills and communicate with others in a meaningful way. Here’s a potential growth point: change your attitude and see what happens to your job. Maybe it will become much more attractive than before.

On top of it, I often confused dissatisfaction and disappointment related to the people I dealt with and my responsibilities. In my experience, the right people nearby bring much more satisfaction than the “right” things you do. Apparently it’s much more important to work with people you like and be part of a helpful and encouraging community. Exactly like dev.to. Thanks a lot for being around, folks!

The next crucial thing is learning. I enjoy it even though it took me a long time to figure out how to handle frustration because of inevitable mistakes one makes while dealing with something new and start enjoying the process of learning and its results. Now I’m going to continue my formal computer science/math education to acquire knowledge and skills I need to solve more complex problems. While doing that, I will obviously need some freelance/remote job in order to pay my bills but this thing must stay in the background in order not to substitute a meaningful learning progress with a routine job. At this point, the path I’ve chosen becomes really tough but there’s no other one I could come up with. I’ll just have to manage it.

All that being said, I’ve finally come to the point when I can answer the original question. The career goal for the next 5-10 years is to make (or at least participate in) a profitable software company that ships a useful product that I have affection for. I’ve already planned out building prototypes/MVPs for different ideas I have and throwing them into the wild to find out if people like them or not. I love the idea of meritocratic entrepreneurship in tech!

However, I try to stay realistic and keep my feet on the ground. All these ideas I have might fail. Even if it happens, as long as I manage to stay passionate and curious about the development, keep learning and acquiring new useful skills, make something meaningful and spend time with nice and smart people I will be fine - whatever I’ll happen to do.