Nice thread. I’ll chuck in my quick bio.
I’ve been coding for 20+ years. I launched my first Internet ‘start-up’ (before that was a word) in the late 90s, and sold and launched several others in the early 2000s, in my late teens/early 20s.
I lived for a long time pretty much as what you might call a digital nomad – which seems second nature to Youtubers/social media types these days, but back then was a pretty untrodden path. I travelled around a lot, and moved to a few foreign countries, living off a laptop for 8-10 hours a day, and launching a few small-ish business ideas, before getting involved in some larger CTO-type roles for a number of years.
I’ve always worked remotely, so like most engineers I guess, the lines between work/life have always been pretty blurred. I enjoy coding, so never really deemed it ‘work’ in the typical sense. 8+ hours per day on the laptop was the norm. 10-12+ in the thick of projects that I needed to get out the door. But I think I kept things interesting enough with travel to feel there was a balance.
I’ve been back in the UK for a number of years, and currently live in my (original) small town. This doesn’t really suit me - it’s quite dull and I’ve found encourages me to spend more time indoors and making connections with people remotely, rather than locally. I’m pretty introverted by nature, so don’t tend to seek out large social or professional groups, and am selective who I work with. Still, I like to be surrounded by amenities and culture, and I especially like to be centred around places with great food… so short-term, the plan is to move to a more urban area. I also had some fun start-up related experiences a few years ago in London, taking meetings, raising money, finding talent, that gave me some first-hand experience on the buzz/energy/opportunity that comes to being more ‘in-market’.
I also have different priorities these days. I have a family now. Since my son was born, I don’t automatically default to opening the laptop lid. Life and work is a lot more structured - I plan my days, and try to make every moment count. When I was in my 20s, time was a distant concern; in my 30s, I’m more mindful of its incessant ticking, and making more of it. As a result, I’ve actually become a lot more ambitious, at least in the sense of spending less time on meandering projects. I no longer have just myself to think about, so financially and professionally, my outlook is more focused. I also want my son to grow up somewhere that could help encourage diverse thought, and give him exposure to opportunities and culture that can be somewhat lacking in a smaller town environment. I feel I have less time to muck around.
As a result of time optimisation, a few of the side-effects have become more pronounced for me: I’m more selective of the projects I take on; if I’m not personally excited by it, I pass. I’m generally less tolerant of time wasting in all forms. I watch less media in general, tend not to get caught up in headlines and mainstream news, and try to limit exposure to negative or junk in any form. I have less time for drama or noise, and try to drown that out where possible. I think I probably say ‘no’ a lot more these days and speak my mind more openly because of it, which I’ve found translates to better outcomes overall. Obviously this doesn’t always work out, but I try to be mindful of it.
I’m also a bit less hardcore on playing with tech. I used to love hacking away at stuff for the fun of it. These days, if there’s no obvious ROI, the guilt that I’m wasting time is far more pronounced. I have less interest in hobby-grade projects. Interestingly, I’ve found this has actually increased excitement for the stuff I am working on and tends to focus me more. It was easier in the past to get lost down a rabbit hole and surface 10 hours later, realising the thing I was playing with had no real tangible benefit. I’ve noticed I generally feel a lot better when I have a practical goal to focus my attention on rather than scattershot information consumption. That’s also because I have a larger range of responsibilities and things I need to get done to feel like a productive human being these days; the guilt kicks in if I feel I’m wasting time.
I guess, in a small way, that’s what led me to Elixir. A common thread in the roles I’ve taken on over the last few years has to be the best I could be at full-stack development, so I could advise my teams and partners on what makes sense for a project. Like many engineers, I’ve seen first-hand the effect of framework burnout - stack pieces that go from obscurity to must-have best-practices practically overnight, and then disappear and get replaced by something else a week later. I have less time for fanboyism these days, and don’t select something just because it happens to be cool this week, only if it genuinely brings something worth having to the table.
Elixir and Phoenix seem like solid choices to reach for by default in a large enough number of projects, enough to warrant getting familiar with them. It’s nice to have a de facto stack that answers 90%+ of my infrastructure concerns. That’s not to say I’ll stop learning the alternatives… just that buying into the hype of a new framework is generally less exciting and less worthwhile these days, when there are already ways to achieve the same thing without the constant burnout.
I guess that was a bit longer and probably somewhat tangential to the main question, but I think somewhat related to my general modus operandi in life these days, which is to waste less time and make more of it - at least as best as I can.