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How do you stay motivated?

Ben Halpern
A Canadian software developer who thinks he’s funny. He/Him.
・1 min read

Discussion (56)

dthompsondev profile image
Danny Thompson • Edited

I could write essays on this topic.

For me, it is my WHY. Your WHY is your driving force, the reason why you can conquer any obstacle. Nietzsche said "For he who has a why to live, can bear almost any how!" For me, that why is my family.

I worked in GAS STATIONS FRYING CHICKEN! When I hit the age of 30 I realized I had to pivot or be stuck there forever. I looked at my wife and son, my WHY. I knew that I had to do something. Long story short, began to learn to code. I fell in love!

I helped 44 people land their first jobs in tech last year. I am a software engineer. I host meetups and bring resources to developers in my city. The journey has been AMAZING! Now I am focused on motivating and inspiring developers of all levels. To show others that the path exists!

Keep doing amazing things!

ronaldoperes profile image
Ronaldo Peres

Almost the same here, my motivation is my kids, my wife, and now finally I am working in a big company as a software engineer.

Even when I get bored, I don't know what to do and I lost focus, I remember how hard was on the past to pay the bills, to buy food with a low salary and newborn baby.

titungdup profile image

That is one motivating story. May i ask how long have you been coding since you started at 30?

dthompsondev profile image
Danny Thompson

It has been 3 years since I started learning. Been working for almost a year. Mainly because I kept turning down jobs so I could help others land theirs. That is a story for another day lol.

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leadersheir_ profile image
Warisul Imam

Doing a great job, man! Keep up the good work 👍👍💪

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titungdup profile image

You should definitely share your story more. I think lot of people will get motivation from you :)

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dthompsondev profile image
Danny Thompson

I do on twitter. I am not really a writer, I am more of a speaker. But I am going to write a post about my journey to tech since MANY people keep asking me about it.

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leadersheir_ profile image
Warisul Imam

Looking forward to it😉...

fly profile image

I dont.
Motivation has proven to be too fleeting and unreliable in my case.
Discipline and inertia of habit is what I do/keep to keep 'motivated'.

citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl

This goes well with one of my favorite quotes:

"Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work."

jayehernandez profile image
Jaye Hernandez • Edited

For me, self-discipline is of more value than motivation. Motivation is a momentary thing, it comes and it goes. But being disciplined will help you achieve results more since you can train yourself to work on something regularly with a set routine.

For example, I may be motivated to go to the gym so that I can achieve a desired goal weight. That's nothing if you don't actually go to the gym say, three times a week, every week.

emma profile image
Emma Goto 🍙

I have a couple of long-term goals for where I see myself in a couple of years. I then break that down into yearly goals, and then those yearly goals into monthly ones.

Having these goals helps keep me motivated to keep on making small improvements to myself each and every day 💪 I still do have days where I might not be feeling it and don't do anything to work towards my goals but I think overall it's been well worth it for me.

rabraham profile image
Rajiv Abraham • Edited

I have a 'lifetime' side project. It's ambitious and I can't stop thinking about it. No matter what happens, whether I pass or fail coding interviews, get rejected for lack of experience or no buzz words in my resume, whether I fear I'm too old or slow in thinking.... the beauty and power in the my 'lifetime' idea keeps me going.
I was having difficulty waking up. I now work on my side project first thing in the morning. Wake up pretty quickly now for if I don't wake up, then I don't get to work on my side project :)
if I have an interview which didn't go well, I'll work on my side project after for an hour.

Calling it a side project disrespects it in a way. I think it's my 'life-giving' project :)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern Author

It's a different thing I think, but noticing that I sort of just got demotivated and let good projects fall by the wayside helped me launch what eventually became DEV. I told myself I wouldn't stop working on it for ten years, regardless of how successful or unsuccessful it was. I just thought I gave up on other things too soon.

Anyway, it's been quite successful and I'm happy I gave myself that rule.

rabraham profile image
Rajiv Abraham

I agree about the ten year rule of thumb. It's a nice way to prioritize. I had the same problem too in a different manner. So many ideas that inspire me. I just had to choose and commit.

rabraham profile image
Rajiv Abraham

It's successful indeed :). Thank you for sticking through. is a force multiplier :)

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Great, what is it about then?

rabraham profile image
Rajiv Abraham

Thanks Max, for your interest :).

I desire a library which will allow me to succinctly capture the business requirements in an executable manner. I'm tired of writing the same code again and again in 100 different ways and feeling this spiderweb of discomfort and boredom and not knowing how to improve my code, capture the common pieces. Some people call it 'accidental complexity'[2] vs 'essential complexity' i.e. business requirements.

What do executable business requirements look like? One approach is Datalog: a declarative(like SQL + recursion) logic language where you express business rules and let the engine figure out your solution. You can see an example here[1].

Datalog and it's derivative are already popular in the Clojure world(Datomic/Datahike/DataScript). It's used in production, so I'm not worried about it not working.

That's great but I want a language that can capture almost all "business" requirements: tax rules, distributed systems, analytics, machine learning algorithms.

For that, we need to explicitly capture time in our specifications :). Rajiv was hungry at time t, Rajiv ate strawberries at time t+1, Rajiv is not hungry at time t+2.

So, since you kindly asked, my project is Mercylog(, a Python library planning to unify three different projects which explicitly capture time.

Like I said, it's ambitious but if it wasn't, would I wake up early as I need all the time I can get ... if I get rejected in interviews for some coding puzzle, this thing is computer science heavy and I will do it :).

I'm an average guy but my projects don't need to be average ;)

[1] -
[2] -

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

It's not really the same code instead your using it in a different context, uses cases, constraints & organisation culture. As the saying goes "if you view the world as a hammer everything looks like a nail to you".

Which is why I think your approach might be shrew towards the computer science lens and might be neglecting different aspects of mental models associated in building software. My suggestion is looking at design systems as the basis for your project instead.

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rabraham profile image
Rajiv Abraham

Thanks Max, will check it out :).

_morgan_adams_ profile image

Mix things up. They say too much of a good thing is bad for you. I've been a serial burnout for years. It's only over the last year and half that I've learned to rein it in and take lots of breaks.

Our brains can only sustain high performance for so long before they need to cool down. Frequent breaks help you reset even if you think it breaks your concentration. If you keep pushing you hit the great motivator killer - burnout.

Bonus, taking breaks help you get out of mental ruts and you'll learn faster.

Anyway, there's a lot of science behind all this and I'm happy to elaborate... maybe worth a blog post... it's been a while :P

frankfont profile image
Frank Font

Your advice is healthy -- nothing bad about it at all!

However "sustain high performance for so long before they need to cool down" is common sense to many people and is at the same time very wrong. The clue is in the first point you shared about breaks and variety.

Our minds (and perhaps our bodies in general) wear down doing one thing like a machine. That kind of high performance is not sustainable -- it is exhausting.

High performance is sustainable when we expand what we mean by performance. When performance is about getting the most important things done when they should be done -- the big picture; then there is an opportunity to mix things up while performing at a high level sustainably.

Sometimes switching from one important thing to another is itself a break. And breaks done right do prevent breakdowns.

samueljseay profile image
Sam Seay

I would really love to see a blog post on this. I'd like to understand myself better and bringing in the science is very compelling.

usamaashraf profile image
Usama Ashraf

It's different for different people. Everyone has their own definition of "meaningful" work.

For me it would be arranging a call with my CEO, CTO etc every 1-2 months and ask them how our product or service has progressed in terms of the actual number of people we're serving. This does not include just the people who have an account with us or have downloaded our app, rather our whole circle of influence, so to speak. Programmers in my view very often tend to get "lost in code" and boredom inevitably follows at some point in time. Someone showing you the bigger picture once in a while helps with that. It makes you re-realize that what you're doing is actually impactful. And I'm not talking about value-judging the impact at all (that's where everybody's own "meaning" comes in), just the scale of it.

Also, just hit the gym and keep some weights at home even.

mccurcio profile image
Matt Curcio

Recently, I stay motivated by staying up most of the night watching Netflix then waking up at 9 am very groggy, forgetting what day it is, drinking lots of coffee, and taking naps at 4 pm.

HOLD IT, what was your question again?


s_aitchison profile image
Suzanne Aitchison (she/her)

To be honest, I think in the past a lot of my motivation came from unhealthy places - imposter syndrome / feeling like I needed to do more to be 'good enough'.

It took a little touch of burn out to get past that, and now I think I've got a good system where every time I start to feel demotivated, I break down why I'm doing something. What am I getting out of it? Is it interesting to me? Am I enjoying it? Will it have a positive effect on others?

I keep track of side projects and ideas in Notion and add those notes directly to the task, so whenever I'm picking it up / reminding myself what I've got in my 'personal backlog', I'm also reminded of why the hell I would bother.

darksmile92 profile image
Robin Kretzschmar • Edited

Personally, I think you don't have to stay (if you even are?) motivated all the time.
I know so many people who pay a lot of time and emotional stress for thoughts about "how to find motivation", "keep motivated", "overcoming a bad mood" and similar mind states.

It is very important to reflect yourself but when you do, rather than asking yourself what your motivation is or can be, ask yourself other questions.
Here are a few which I use from time to time:

  • How long am I willing to do this task anymore / hold out in the current situation? (really write down a number of hours, days, weeks,...)
  • What is in it for me?
  • Why did I start it in the first place? Is my alignment still correct, are my goals still the same?
  • If a total stranger would ask me now why I do this, could I explain it without self-defending myself for hours?

Those are just a few of the questions I use to reflect myself in situations where I have a task I'm not happy with, being in a siutation I don't like or with people I don't like to spend time with and other.

I learned for myself that it is totally fine to say No if you don't like the task, don't like to spend time with people, don't want to finish the project you are close to get done or even a job offer.

As long as you can live with yourself and your decisions, you are already motivated. As soon as it changes, reflect yourself and take action. An action can even be that you keep doing / going but then you made yourself clear why you do it at least.

This helps you more than only trying to answer the question for motivation.

elisealcala profile image
Elizabeth Alcalá

It's hard, I'm someone who doesn't think long term. There are some goals I'm trying to achieve but there are times when I think I won't be able to do it. I think just getting better day by day it's key.

fokusman profile image
Ferit 🌟🕌

This is difficult and I think it changes over time:

  1. During my studies the motivation was to finish it and "start my life" 😂
  2. Later I got kids, and they are motivating me.

Yet, these days, I think it's part of my role now, being a father and working in tech, my motivation is up and down. For the downs, I try to be disciplined and focused. Also doing more breaks and enjoying the moment with kids helps a lot.

These days: Family + Discipline 😃

alexlsalt profile image
Alex Morton

I try to remember to take everything day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, breath by breath.

At the end of the day, motivation shows up for me when I fully show up to do the work.

Setting a timer and falling into the work itself is a self-fulfilling prophecy and - sooner or later - you'll fall into a nice rhythm.

blanchloe profile image
Seonyoung Chloe (she/they)

By Checking the articles, Journalizing thing I am inspired, Solving easy math problems. :)

v6 profile image
🦄N B🛡

I'll get thanks every now and again. And I know people I like are relying on me to do my best to learn, keep it together, and keep up.

And between my moments of realizing the above there's salary, routine, discipline, good habits, others to hold me accountable, and coffee.

renesansz profile image
Rene Padillo 🇵🇭

for me it's "Perseverance" and "Mindfulness", my journey as a developer has been always ups and downs been in my lowest lows and highest highs in life.

"Motivation" is like a fuel, at some point it will ran out and you'll feel useless. But here's what I realized from my struggles, don't take life seriously sometimes it's better to take a break and let go of your anxiety (even it takes for a very long time).

For me it's better to move forward no matter how big or small my step is, there's no shortcut of become great at everything, not all of us where fortunate to have great minds like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

olivier32621338 profile image
Olivier Chauvin

I lacked of motivation for a few months ever since I started working from how. I had lost track of time and started falling behind on my work. Here are the things I did to find motivation and boost my productivity ( I followed an article about what to do)

  1. read books: this keeps you focused and you can learn a lot from reading. We usually claim that we’re too busy for reading, but now is the perfect time for it. I’ve finished six books so far, and honestly, books like “The Art of Thinking Clearly” changed me for the better.
  2. Set a schedule: This is one of the most important tasks to do. I tend to forget things fairly quickly so I decided to use to-do list apps instead of writing the tasks down on paper. I decided to use Quire for task management because it’s free (the main reason why I chose it haha), and they have a good mobile app to support the system. They have notifications, priorities…. etc. By using softwares like this helped me a lot, I work more efficiently now.
  3. Learn a new language: I recently started to learn German! I’ve always wanted to learn it but never had the time. I highly recommend it! Hope this helps. Cheers!
yaser profile image
Yaser Al-Najjar

Always remember YOUR WHY:

From 46:00 till 49:20

hamedmoasses profile image
Hamed Moasses

Think about how great it feel once you finally reach your goal (or whatever you want in life). there will be always ups and downs in life but it's really important to get back on your horse and keep going forward...

sebbdk profile image
Sebastian Vargr

I have ADHD, my primary problem is focusing my motivation on one thing at time.

Usually when i am not motivated it's because of lack or sleep or stress from pretending to be hu.. a completely normal person.

I should get back to work...

lschultebraucks profile image
Lasse Schultebraucks

It is hard to keep motivation long term. But I noticed, that a productive start in the day makes me feel better and I also can achieve a lot more if I have a good morning. So I stand up early, eat a little bit, make coffee and start working. The goal for is to get in the flow state, where I can enjoy every task I have to do. Sometimes this work better with music, sometimes it does work without music better.

thealiilman profile image
Ali Ilman • Edited

I stay motivated easily because of the company I work for, my eagerness to deliver good work and because of my life goals.

Living in a beautiful country while doing something meaningful with my superpower (programming) is something I’ve yet to achieve, and I’m eager to achieve that soon.

vaibhavkhulbe profile image
Vaibhav Khulbe • Edited

We all need to have some goals for our career. If you have a goal and want to accomplish it, you'll be motivated to do the work. Why? Because YOU want to do that thing, for the betterment of YOURSELF.

If we don't invest in ourselves then for whom are we investing time and money for?

Practice, Patience, Persistence (I call them my 3 P's rule) is all we need to move ahead to achieve something.

isajal07 profile image
Sajal Shrestha

Well, I think motivation is a major factor at the beginning of starting or doing anything but when the moment you realize that, the things you want to get-it-done really matters to you then that is a motivation. That's what drives me through getting my things done. Later, It turns out to be a normal habit and you won't be needing any 'motivation' for that, cause you just know you've to get it done. :)

dmcginley profile image
Donnchadh Mc Ginley

Motivation is key, and will lead to dedication on that subject.
People say dedication is all that you need yeah but that comes from being motivated to do it. You need to want to go somewhere. Motivation isn't always happy time

fifo profile image
Filipe Herculano

With lots of coffee and no sleep but instead it’s exercise and sunlight

ssimontis profile image
Scott Simontis

I've been struggling with this lately. I feel like the front end team on my project gets all the credit while the infra members are working 50 hours a week to figure out technologies that are net new for the company and having a single team member design the microservice architecture for our application. It'd be nice to get some complements instead of questions about schedule or accusations of not being MVP enough...maybe a vendor-neutral cloud solution based on microservices was a really poor idea for a MVP?

darkokolev profile image

We all need motivation to get started, that is how we figure out what to even do.
You get motivated to start learning to code and you get started, I call this the Spark.
But relying on staying motivated is not a good strategy.
So after we have the Spark, we must create an Engine to keep our initial momentum going.
For me the Engine consists of a few things:

  • Staying accountable to others - example working on a software projects with other people or getting early users as soon as possible.
  • Creating a productivity/organization system by defining my tasks in Trello, LifeHQ and working on my tasks in Focus Sessions
  • Scheduling time to work on the project in my calendar, If you don't schedule it, the time won't appear by itself
macronimous profile image

Meditating the Bible and prayers.

gkhan205 profile image
Ghazi Khan

For me it is my love, I love what I do and I love to do what I'm doing. In short starting from a Telephone booth operator who earns 600INR ($ 7.93) a month to a Technical Lead@HCL Technologies one of the biggest tech companies in India it was just because of my love for computers and learning new things every single day. It was a tough journey as a failure student to start a career but now If I look back, that keeps me motivated to move forward.

arvindmehairjan profile image
Arvind Mehairjan

I just do the work. Motivation is a fleeting emotion that is only temporary. Being disciplined and having a routine helps a lot in the long term imo.

caroso1222 profile image
Carlos Roso

"The secret to living is giving."

Giving out, helping, inspiring, creating, making others grow. That's the one thing that wakes me up early in the morning.

xanderyzwich profile image
Corey McCarty

It's all bullet journal, music therapy, and making sure that I have something to say in morning standup.

lehmannsystems profile image

It's all about me feeling I am in the right job and actually making a difference. If I feel like I am making a positive difference, it is easy to get up and work!

pioardi profile image
Alessandro Pio Ardizio

Take time off when you achieve something , even little .

leadersheir_ profile image
Warisul Imam

I simply love to code too much to need any motivation for doing it, I guess...

brunner1000 profile image

hitting goals.

zarszz profile image
Ganjar Gingin Tahyudin

i still motivated when i have responsibility for any work or family.

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