My Github commit history is looking weak these days, only 92 commits over the past year. Oh sure, when I’m logged in it looks pretty good, over 1,500 commits (when you’re logged in you see all of your commits, including those to private repos). It’s important for software engineers to write code, and by extension, learn new things. Hacker News is filled with posts about amazing side projects. I’m so jealous when I read about them. I know that I could create some amazing projects too if I could just… open… my …. laptop…. Phew, that was tough, I swear the lid of this thing must weigh a ton.
Now for the part where I justify my lack of after hours coding. My motivation works on an annual cycle. Starting somewhere around February I start to gain some motivation to start writing code. My commit history bears this out, it’s loaded toward the beginning of the year (lightly loaded: like I said, 92 commits). This motivation lasts until mid summer. Around mid to late summer my motivation takes a nosedive and I don’t do much coding at all.
Do you know what else starts in mid to late summer: American football season and the American school year. I am a huge football fan. Typically I don’t watch TV at all, however during football season I’ll watch games. And with the NFL putting games on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday nights, that’s three nights spent not coding. In addition to being a football fan, I’m also a father of 3. Summers are a double-edged sword. The kids are around during the day which makes my work environment (my home) louder, which is bad. However, since they don’t have to get up early for school, I don’t have to get up early to get them ready for school. As a result I’m able to work later at night on side projects and I’m still better rested because I can sleep in a bit.
With the Super Bowl coming up, I’m hoping to get started on something in a few weeks. When I’m not working on a side project, I start to feel guilty. There is a strong feeling in my gut that I need to keep improving. I used to work for a large health insurance company with a crappy culture, and one thing that stuck with me from working there is that you were either “Moving up or moving out”. The saying referred to the corporate ladder, but the saying is apt to software engineering as well. If you aren’t learning, then you’re stagnating and losing ground to your competition.
To be clear: I feel very good about my overall commit history. I’ve made substantial commits across multiple languages to multiple private repositories. But you always want to put your best foot forward to anybody that happens to come across your profile for one reason or another. Also there are some apps that I wish existed, and your own itch scratcher makes the best side project.
If it seems like I worry a lot about my standing in relation to others, that’s partially true. I think it’s more a fact that I always want to have a job. Preferably a job of my own choosing. I work for a great company right now, but you never know what the future holds. Another part of being a father is that you don’t want to be unemployed at any point with college tuition looming