It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint



Updated August 7, 2023

Now that we’ve looked at what things to consider when thinking about your engineering path—whether to generalize or specialize, and options for your leadership path—it may feel like there are a lot of things to think about. There’s a lot that goes into software development, but you don’t need to decide all of these things at once.

It may be overwhelming to think about all of this right now, so it’s important to give yourself a reasonable timeline when it comes to advancing in your career, and to keep things in perspective when setting goals for yourself, because you have a long career ahead of you.

Some skills take years to learn and decades to master, so be patient and take things day by day. Continuous improvement is the best thing you can focus on right now, as that will give you a strong foundation you can build on. Small improvements every day will compound over time, and soon you’ll look back and be surprised at how quickly you’re progressing.

Think about your career as if you’re running a marathon and you’re just starting your race. You wouldn’t want to sprint to the finish line right now because you might burn yourself out. Just be patient, and take it one career milestone at a time.

Go at Your Own Pace

Additionally, try to focus on running your own race. At this point in your career, you’re competing only against yourself, not others, so try your best not to put pressure on yourself if your peers are progressing in their careers at different paces than you are. Even though it may seem like you’re running the same race, each person begins at a different starting line and is running to their own finish line. It won’t do you any good to compare yourself to others because you’re not even running the same race.

caution Keep in mind that as you get promoted and move up the org chart, you will have to compete against others as the number of available roles begins to narrow. You’ll have to shift your mindset from competing against yourself to competing against others, and this is where the soft skills become even more important.

People learn at different rates, and what may come easy to one person might take weeks or months for someone else to grasp. Learning a new skill often requires you to change your way of thinking, sometimes forcing you to change how you approach a problem. While it might click right away for some people, try not to get discouraged if it takes you a little longer to learn a new technology.

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