“You are not your fucking khakis” — Tyler Durden.
In the last couple of months, I’ve talked to developers about the impact that tools like ChatGPT and Github Copilot will have on our future.
And God, it’s been a hard one!
Besides finding out that most of them haven’t even used any of those tools in their job, I’ve got a lot of nasty comments. Like really mean stuff.
I guess it is easier to insult people when hiding behind a keyboard 😕
Where is this negativity coming from?
Denial and anger are self-defense mechanisms. Developers getting triggered are anxious about their future. They fear becoming obsolete with no job security.
I don’t blame them.
They invested years in getting where they are at.
For example, after the first days playing with ChatGPT, Bogdan got so anxious that he didn’t want to leave the house.
I had to push him to go out and catch up with some of his friends.
For the record, Bogdan is an ex-aerospace engineer that started coding more than ten years ago.
After getting to Principal Engineer and Engineering Manager, he joined theSeniorDev, where he designed our training programs and delivered technical training to over 200 engineers. This is not to brag, but he knows what he is doing.
And he was more than worried. When ChatGPT came up with better solutions than he would ever imagine, he felt displaced and obsolete.
It’s been a few weeks since then.
In the meantime, Bogdan got deeper and deeper into machine learning, even developing and deploying our proprietary LLM for theSeniorDev.
He is working on a recipe to help our mentees merge their software development expertise with AI skills and stay relevant.
We are rolling that out already; Interested? Apply here to see if you qualify.
Back to the anxiety part.
I think Bogdan’s reaction is because he built his identity around his job (just like many other software developers). It is a by-product of passion.
Making your job your identity is dangerous.
It is scientifically proven that people with a complex identity (or sense of self) are more resilient to personal crises. A complex identity means a diverse identity.
So many of us are invested in our job. We say, “I am a Developer” or “I am a Software Engineer.” I get it. I was the same.
For the last ten years, I did little but work on my career. In my early days as a developer, I lived in the office. After work, I would be exhausted and go home and sleep.
I gained at least 20 kilos and barely got out of bed every morning to go to work.
And I didn’t have a family to support as many of you do. I can’t imagine how hard that must be.
It took the passing away of one of my closest friends to realize that a life built around my job is a life of misery. Ambition is a good thing, but too much of it can destroy you.
I started putting some time aside for my hobbies and friends. Setting time aside means putting it on the calendar and treating it like a work appointment. I started developing other areas of my life.
Sure, my job is still essential to me.
It gives me energy and a sense of purpose. But I don’t let it define me anymore. It is part of life, but it is not life. It is part of who I am, not who I am.
Guess what? I got back my motivation. Taking breaks and disconnecting means coming on Monday with a big smile, hungry for more.
Here is my tip for today: develop a complex sense of self.
If you write software already, writing a blog on the side can be a good starting point.
If you are more visual and like to go out into the world, pick up photography, as Bogdan did. Or cooking. Or dancing. Or stand-up comedy.
I prefer things that make me run away from the computer and put me in touch with other people. We live in a loneliness epidemic; human connection is what we need more of.
Don’t worry, you will still have time to shine at your job.
Developing your personality will help you navigate stressful situations and career changes. Because in this day and age, things change faster than ever, your job might be completely different in a couple of years.
And a couple of years for a career change is fast.
P.S. This post was inspired by my lunchtime chats with Bogdan about the future of software development. In the last months, we’ve been working hard to understand AI and its impact on developer jobs.
Fundamental changes are coming. It is good news for smart and hard-working devs to shine and take advantage of this technological disruption.
And we want to help you along the way. This is why we are already extending our Software Mastery Mentorship with an AI-centered bonus. So you can stay relevant no matter what. Interested? Apply here now!