At this year’s Antwerp edition of the Devox Java conference, I attended some talks that managed to really inspire me, which is a rare gift. It made me think of my own 20+ year career as a developer and how I want/expect to spend the remainder. I like to share these thoughts here, giving credit to the excellent speakers where credit is due. Here are my three conclusions for the impatient:

Been there, done that? I don’t buy it. You can never have been everywhere or done everything. The Java universe expands faster than anyone can keep up with, so don’t burn yourself out.
The world needs excellent craftspeople more than it needs people to manage them. Don’t become a victim of the Peter Principle.
If you aspire to a different job only for its status and are incompetent at it, you make more than one life miserable.

Focus on Skills That Age Like Wine

The biggest challenge is to stay relevant and sane in an ever-changing ecosystem. Choose your battles wisely, I say. Software products age like milk, not like wine or a Stradivarius violin. Language mastery gets rusty, however sharp your long-term memory. Your favorite JavaScript test framework has sprouted green hairs by the time you’re back from holidays. The half-life of technical relevancy is to two to five years (Learning through tinkering by Tom Cools). Is it any wonder some throw in the towel from pure frustration in trying to keep up? Apparently, the average developer is 28 and leaves the trade after 8 years, according to a statistic quoted by Tobias Modig (Get old, go slow, write code). Standard deviation is likely to be high, judging from the more senior attendees in the audience. So, take it with a pinch of salt.

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