Here's a thread from the community a little while back:
What's your opinion on programmers who are not passionate about programming, have no side projects and only program at their jobs. Not senior devs either, just programmmers, who are not juniors anymore. Can they ever improve, write better code? Or do they stagnate.
I wanted to share this wonderful top comment:
This is a really interesting question. I guess it helps to reframe it by applying the question to other jobs.
What's your opinion on carpenters who don't build houses in their free time?
I've met a broad variety of developers in my time, and a large portion of them have been the type who have a skill that they use for work, and don't care to indulge in outside of business hours. Instead they use their free time to build boats, go surfing, paint, write, cook, raise families etc.
Some are tech leads, some are CTO's, some are juniors, the remainder are everywhere in between. Some of the best technical minds I've worked with have been superb at completely separating their work and home lives.
I noticed quite early in my career that there's an (in my opinion) undue amount of pressure on developers to be coding/reading/meetup-ing 24/7 lest they fall behind. The truth, as I've grown to understand it, is that 40 hours a week of writing software is plenty to facilitate growth and improvement, given an environment that supports that growth.
I've been lucky enough to work for organisations who take their employees growth very seriously, and as such provide ample opportunity (at work) to dabble in new technologies, learn and grow.
The idea that the only way you can avoid stagnation as a developer is to let your job consume your life* is pervasive, but very poisonous none-the-less.
Having said that, no-one's trying to stifle anyones passion here. If you love to code, do it at every opportunity you get. But be careful when passing judgement on the skill, growth and development of folks who don't share that same level of passion.
*maybe not your whole life, but a significant portion of it
Us humans put a lot of pressure on one-another and there are a lot of competitive, unhealthy environments that cause us a lot of pain. We also each have different personal contexts which ultimately guide our lives a lot more than 1's and 0's.
I would be careful about assuming they're not passionate because they don't code in their free time. At one point I was a single mom and couldn't find time to code unless I was at work. That didn't mean I wasn't learning new things while I was at work, or that I wasn't interested in technology. :)
Passion to learn and strive to be better is what sets people apart from becoming stagnate.
If you want to code in your spare time, go for it, but this career is an absolute marathon and being able to take yourself away from your computer more often is a strength as far as I'm concerned.
@_patrickgod has a lot of good posts on maintaining healthy habits and they all touch on balance.
I'm getting ready to escape into a bit of nature for the weekend and wanted to take a minute to share some great tips from the community on the subject of escaping. I hope it helps someone out there.