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Discussion on: I am a middle aged junior developer, Ask Me Anything!

techr10n profile image
Ryan Hammang

I mean this with the most empathetic respect: "What have you finished lately?

The biggest challenge that I have is locking down what "done" looks like, and what timeframe to put around "done".

Thanks so much for sharing Tomas!

tomasforsman profile image
Tomas Forsman Ask Me Anything

One of the experiences I've had during my time out of tech has changed how I view this question.

The younger me would have answered this with some great theories on how to become better at finishing projects. I would have talked about the concept of motivation and how to build yours. I would have talked about grit, the ability to work through 'boring'. All those are, of course, valid answers and very interesting topics to read about, but they would not have been honest answers.

I took some courses in using Storytelling and as part of that, I took an internship with an organization that worked on some very interesting projects. I've learned a lot from that organization and one of the biggest things I learned 5 minutes into my interview with them when they asked me a question I've never been asked before;
Are you a person who likes to start projects, work on projects or finish projects?
They asked this question without any hint of judgment or emphasis on one option or the other. This was not a question where one answer was better than another, it was simply a question about how they could put me to the best possible use. This organization didn't have a box they wanted to put me in, they met me and figured out what shape they needed to create in the company to fit me.

I'm not great at finishing projects. I'm not detail oriented. I'm a problem solver, I'm great when put on the spot, I'm creative and social. I'm a lot of things that are great and up to that question I had spent my life feeling ashamed of not being all the other great things as well.

There were other people in that organization that were great at wrapping things up, that loved the puzzle in getting all the pieces together by the end of a project and yet others who loved the maintenance work, that kept things going steady and forward. Those that were in those groups said the same thing, that they always felt that those that had all the ideas, that got things going, that made people passionate enough to jump into the unknown were the ones that had things together and they could just do the easy parts. Just like I felt about them. I could just do the easy part, to start an idea, to set the course, to make people strive towards a goal. I couldn't maintain that energy in them for the duration of a project, I couldn't get people, or myself, to work through the boring or get the final things in place or, God forbid, write the report when all was done.

So, you might not be a finisher. You might feel like they are the ones doing the hard work that feels impossible, but remind yourself daily that they feel the same way about you. Everyone carries the burden of impostor syndrome. Everyone values the skills they don't have higher than the skills they do have. Those that don't have serious mental health issues.

So, to answer your question, I very seldom finish my own projects and when possible I prefer when others finish projects for me. While this used to make me feel like a lazy shit it doesn't anymore (for the most part). Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and while it's important to work on all aspects of yourself, try to value yourself as a whole and don't put a higher negative value on your weaknesses than you put a positive value on your strengths.

I hope this made a little bit of sense. I'll take this with me for future articles since it's a very important question.