The apprenticeship pattern “Sustainable Motivations” refers to the situation in which you want to develop your technical skills but are faced with the messy reality of ambiguously specified projects for customers with shifting and conflicting demands. This is often frustrating because the best motivator for a programmer is being able to do things their own way, but you often won’t be able to have this motivation because you’ll be forced to work on problems no one wants to do. It’s crucial that you find sustainable motivations that push you to achieve mastery.
What I found interesting about this pattern was that it talked about some of the “ugly” parts of the software development world: working on tedious tasks you don’t enjoy working on or becoming frustrated with ambiguous specifications or conflicting demands. It’s hard to stay motivated when you aren’t enjoying what you’re doing, but you need to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Being able to realize what motivates you to continue pushing yourself is something that’s very important if you ever find yourself questioning your commitment to the craft. I suppose that for some people, they may find that they don’t have many, if any, sustainable motivations and decide to quit in pursuit of another path. For them, it may be beneficial to figure out early on that this isn’t what they want to do. Others may be able to figure out why they continue to push beyond their frustrations.
This pattern caused me to consider what motivates me to continue what I’m doing. Obviously for someone who hasn’t fully experienced what frustrations are being referred to in the article, it’s hard to be able to decide if what motivates me outweighs the potential frustrations, so this is something that I’ll have to experience for myself before figuring out what I should do.
Writing down a list of things that motivate you and keeping that list with you is a great idea to be able to push you whenever your feeling frustrated. If you aren’t able to come up with sustainable motivations, perhaps it may be time to think about if you’re walking on the road that you actually want to walk on.