Being a developer is not easy. Technology is constantly evolving. There always seems to be another language, library, or framework to learn. This means that if you are looking to land a web developer job, become a freelance developer, or start your own business, you need to become aware of the limiting beliefs that are holding you back.
These are 13 common limiting beliefs hindering developers from getting ahead with tips on how you can start addressing them right now. Overcoming them using the Lens of Yet will allow you to develop a growth mindset that will empower you to conquer any challenge you may encounter throughout your career.
Bonus: Download a free worksheet that will show you how to quickly overcome your limiting beliefs. Includes additional strategies not found in this post.
"I’ll never succeed"
Beliefs such as, “I’ll never succeed at getting a web developer job” or “I’ll never succeed at full-stack development” reveals that you don’t believe in yourself. It’s indicative that you failed at something or multiple things in the past. So why bother trying if you’re just going to fail anyway?
Looking at this through a different lens, it highlights that you haven’t had success yet in the present. If it’s something you’ve never done before, this belief may arise because you haven’t tried it yet, especially if it seems hard and challenging. It may also suggest that you have a fear of failure. But you won’t know the outcome until you give it a try.
This crippling view of yourself as someone that won’t ever succeed stems from deeper limiting beliefs, like the next one we’ll cover next.
"I feel like an imposter"
We all feel this way at one time or another. You think you’re a fraud and the whole world is going to find out that you’re a fake. Currently, you don’t identify yourself as a developer yet, or as a good one at least. You haven’t met your own standard or expectation yet of what you think needs to be satisfied in order to consider yourself a true developer. As a result, you don’t feel like you belong yet in the community of developers, in the office, or in the classroom.
These beliefs may surface when you’re learning front-end development for the first time, when you interview for your first entry-level web development job, or when you get hired into your first junior developer position. Rather than dedicating energy to feeling like an imposter instead focus on what you can do, take action, and add value. This belief is also a byproduct of the next limiting belief.
"I'm not enough"
This is your inner critic trying to protect you, even though your inner critic may do it in a mean manner. To become “enough” requires change. Our brain and inner critic view change as a threat to our survival. Thus, your inner critic is protecting you from taking on something that may have risk and uncertainty, so that you can survive another day.
How often as developers do we say, “I’m not good enough…smart enough…confident enough…experienced enough…qualified enough…talented enough…tech savvy enough…”, the list goes on.
These thoughts are shining light, again, on an unmet standard, expectation, or need. You’re revealing that you haven’t reached a state of satisfaction or acceptance, whether that’s satisfying yourself or being accepted by others. Just because you don’t have a degree, a technical background, enough experience, or that you think your situation is “different”, it doesn’t mean you’re incapable of changing your current state to a better one.
Rather than comparing yourself to others, instead focus on what you can do to improve your skills, knowledge, and experience. You may not be good enough yet, but that can be overcome, especially by finding a mentor online, at work, or at a local meetup.
By the way, there’s always going to be someone that is better than you. Use that as inspiration and motivation while becoming your best self as you tell your inner critic to shut up.
"I don't deserve it"
You may feel you haven’t worked hard enough for it yet. Or perhaps, you haven’t given yourself permission yet to accept whatever it may be (award, promotion, bonus, etc.) because you think you haven’t earned it yet. Remember that you are worthy and deserving of goodness in your life and living the life you want. Remind yourself that you are worthy by saying it out loud three times before you walk out the door each morning. It's a great way to start the day.
"I'm never going to amount to anything"
It’s hard to continue pushing forward if you’ve been unemployed for a while. Perhaps you dropped out of an expensive coding boot camp or you didn’t get that “guaranteed” job after graduation. Or, you’ve been repeatedly passed over for promotions or new career opportunities. It’s natural for this type of belief to pop into your head.
However, thinking you’re not going to amount to anything, even as a developer, indicates a lack of purpose or goal in your life. Start by discovering what is important to you. Ask yourself, “What can you do with your time that is important to you?” Of these things, “which of them also helps people in the process?”
Take a moment and reflect on what it is you like to develop that makes you forget to eat, shower, and use the bathroom because you become consumed with what you’re learning and creating. Apply that similar obsessive energy to your work as a developer. Once you figure that out, the create a small goal for yourself and work towards it step by step. When you complete it, congratulate yourself on what you have accomplished.
Other ways of creating a purpose for yourself is to pick a problem in your community, country, or in the world and develop a solution for it. To take a darker take on the matter, imagine if you were going to die next year. What you develop over the next 12 months? How would you want to be remembered? What legacy do you want to leave behind as a developer?
"I’m too shy or introverted"
Your interpersonal skills are as important as your technical skills. This pertains to your ability to interact and communicate with others. As a developer, we eventually need to work on a team and communicate our status, such as what has been accomplished, what issues you’re facing, and what your next steps are. You may also be asked to document your work on a wiki page, write a report, give a presentation, or engage with customers.
Just because you’re shy or introverted doesn’t mean you’re excused from knowing basic social and communication skills. Whether you’re dealing with colleagues, employees, or clients, these are fundamental behavioral skills that we all need to continue developing.
It's understandable that people may not know what to say yet, they're not comfortable with speaking in front of people yet, or they don’t know how to document for others yet because they're used to working by themselves. That doesn't mean they can’t do it. With a little coaching and guidance, they’re able to improve on these skills and eventually come out of their shell.
The best way to develop these skills, just like with programming, is to practice. Put yourself in situations where you have to work with and communicate with others. Consider participating in open source projects, attending meetups, contributing to your Github repos, giving talks at local events, registering for hackathons, or even joining your local Toastmasters club.
"I hate selling myself"
When it comes to networking events and interviews, people imagine that they have to do all the talking where they are bragging, boasting, selling, or persuading people about how awesome they are. Yes, there is at least one thing that is awesome about each of us. But when you’re networking and interviewing, I recommend doing the opposite.
If you don’t know how to market yourself yet, try this. Ask what challenges the companies and developers are currently facing. Inquire about their vision. Actively listen to understand what their needs are. Then share how you can help them by using your knowledge, skills, and expertise. Give an example of how you solved someone’s problem and what resulted from the effort. What people care about are results and how you can eliminate their problems.
Demonstrating that you took the time to understand them, cared to listen to their concerns, and offered a way to help leaves a much stronger impression than simply talking about how cool you are.
"I suck at interviews"
Interviews can be painful, but they don’t have to be. You may not be good at interviews yet, but there are steps that you can take to get better at them. First, get your mind right. Consider interviews as conversations to take the pressure off. Also, view them as opportunities to meet new people and learn about how awesome they are.
Polish your strong responses and begin to fill in the gaps. Practice discussing your projects, such as why you created it, your design approach, the skills you used, how it challenged you, etc. Review How To Ace A Coding Bootcamp Technical Interview and 5 Ways to Practice For A Coding Interview. Grab a friend and conduct mock interviews to rehearse your responses and to to get their feedback on your communication.
Repeated practice will help you become comfortable, but at some point, you have to put yourself out there and experience it for real. The more company interviews you do, the better you will become at them.
"I don't know what type of developer I want to be"
Should I become a front-end developer, back-end developer, full-stack developer, mobile developer, …? There’s no right, perfect answer to this. And it’s okay that you don’t know what type of developer you want to be yet. Yes, there are different types of developers out there, but don’t let the number of options paralyze you from choosing one and exploring what it involves.
Imagine what it is that you want to create. What company do you imagine working for? Begin looking at their job descriptions to see what skills they require and start learning them. Think about what time and budget you have available to dedicate to mastering these skills. This will help you determine what learning resources are best for you given your situation, including free versus paid resources, online versus in-person classes, and so on.
For others, you may not have the reassurance yet that the developer path you take will work out. Do your research, and reach out to other developers for their advice and guidance. At the end of the day, pick one and start coding. You’ll learn a lot along the way, even if you decide to pivot to another developer track.
"I don’t know where to start"
We’ve all been there as developers and it’s okay to say that you don’ know where to start. What’s not okay is not doing anything about it or waiting for someone to tell you what to do. This statement indicates that you haven’t made a decision yet. You know that you want to learn how to code and you want to be a developer, but you haven’t decided on what you will do next to make that happen.
Perhaps you’re worried about making a mistake or that it won’t turn out perfect. You haven’t started yet because you’re not ready yet. You haven’t received reassurance yet that it’s going to work out. So why put in the time and energy to start if it may result in failure?
There’s a ton of information, resources, and communities out there that can help you make an informed decision. You can also start by taking a moment to tell me about your situation and I can tell you the one thing you need to do next based on your situation.
"I just need to figure it out"
We all find ourselves saying this time to time. When you look under the surface, what this phrase really means is that you haven’t taken action yet to get other people’s perspectives on the issue at hand. Getting advice from others who are more experienced can provide you with the clarity that you need. The next time you catch yourself saying this, get out of your head and get out there. Reach out to people for help instead of waiting for that magical day to become unstuck.
"I have no discipline"
Like I said, being a developer is not easy, especially if you’re new to coding. It takes time, patience, and dedication to learn how to code. When you find yourself not having the discipline to complete your coding projects or lectures, especially if you’re a self-taught programmer, remind yourself of why you’re coding in the first place. Get back in touch with your purpose to help motivate you to accomplish your goal.
"I don’t have enough time"
We all have 24 hours in a day. How you spend it is your choice. When developers say they don’t have time, what they’re really saying is that they don’t have enough energy, motivation, and urgency yet to get it done. The thing they need to complete hasn’t become utterly important to them yet. As a result, it isn’t made a priority yet.
Ask yourself, "How badly do you want it?"
The truth is that YOU DON'T WANT IT BAD ENOUGH!
Or rather, you don't want it bad enough yet...
...because if you did, you would do everything within your power to make it happen.
So how do you get things done when say you don’t have enough time? Don’t add it to another to-do list. Schedule the activity on your calendar. By putting it on your calendar, you are making it a priority.
NOW IT'S YOUR TURN!
There are many other limiting beliefs that we haven’t covered, but this post has become quite long already. Whenever you encounter a limiting belief, try using the Lens of Yet to overcome it, so that it doesn’t prevent you from becoming the best developer you can be.
- Make a list of the things you can’t do yet.
- Then make a list of the things you can do now to move one step closer towards achieving what you currently can’t do.
- Start taking action based on the solutions you described in Step 2.
…but I can research the 3 most commonly used frameworks, get people’s advice on which one to use and why, and then explore implementing one of them as an experiment.
What limiting beliefs would you like to overcome as a developer?
Leave a comment to let me know which limiting belief you’re going to tackle first.