4 min read

Are you still the same person you were X years ago?

Are you still the same person you were X years ago?
Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin / Unsplash

I had an interesting conversation recently. That somehow triggered me to write this short piece. Go figure, right? The title reveals a lot, and this is a question that I ask myself often. The reason is when I encounter something from my past and start thinking: I remember how I approached the same problem then, would I approach it the same now?

Not sure if you would agree, but this is a really powerful question that you can ask yourself. According to a number of books that have some variation of it in them, it seems many wonder the same. Also as a career one. So I decided to scope it mostly to areas I know something about. The software engineering field. Or I like to think I know a thing or two. Honestly, even after decades in it, imposter syndrome is still somehow always around. Always tugging on my arm, whatever situation. Are you sure you know what you're talking about? Isn't that kind of a bit stupid? Even when I'm pretty confident in the proposed idea or solution. Will ever go away? I hope not, it kept me on my toes till now. When you pair it with a reflection of yourself, personally and professionally, growth is guaranteed.

I hear often: The best way to get a big salary increase is to change jobs often. Yet I often miss: What about the knowledge and opportunity to grow not just your bank account? Would you change a job for not such a big salary increase but for the opportunity to grow? When feeling that you're stagnating? That rot is taking hold and you're not growing towards your goals? Not the ones you have in your company, but your personal ones. I did, as I do have certain beliefs about the subject. When I reflect on myself after a year and I see the same person in that reflection, it is a hard knock on the door.

What also I see often, is people blaming everyone but themselves. Maybe your company has no established process to facilitate employee growth, but why don't you make one for yourself? Or try to change that as well within the company by challenging the status quo? Waiting for someone else to do something for you is just gonna lead to frustration and complaining. I know, been there and done that. Still do. When I hear that nagging voice and I complain a lot, I do try my best to change stuff around. Remove that obstacle and let us see if that makes the world a bit better place. Maybe it won't, but you learned something along the way. Plus helped yourself. But what does all of this has to do with the question asked in the title?

Everything. These are just examples of situations you encounter in your professional life. And how you approach them will also show in your reflection after X years. When you ask yourself the same question. If your reflection is: I left it as is. I haven't learned anything new or challenged my way of thinking. Or, I can't bother, you can't fight the system. Then, you are you of X years ago. There is another way around it. Often the term that is being tossed around reflects the same:

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Do you have X years of experience or 1 year repeated X times?

Or some variation of it at least. So think hard and long about it. There are a number of ways you can keep track of your progress. Pick one, put some topics on it, and check back on it in a year. Be critical. Even more, than your manager would be. Be hard on yourself so others won't have the opportunity. Sounds somewhat self-deprecating, tho I hope it is clear I don't imply you punish yourself. Some people are fine with where they're, it is a job after all and you know what you want to get out of it. Or your career. But if you have plans to achieve <insert whatever your goal is>, then not making progress is not gonna make it happen.

You know yourself the best, so my point is that you are also the person that can judge your growth the best. Or at least towards your own goal, you defined for yourself. You will know best how to reflect on them. And their progression.

Keeping a diary of sorts is also a good idea, especially when talking about progression within the company. Mostly when dealing with management. That is somehow just always interested in those "dark times", as they are there to help you grow. It is a nice way to contrast the gaslighting and that your entire year is summarized on your shortcomings. It is also a good idea to keep them for your personal goals, just so you can reflect on those moments of need. When your brain goes: What have you accomplished in the period? This will be a nice ego boost and keep you on right track. You wouldn't believe how many things we do and sometimes neglect. They're great pick-me-up energy when you needed. I am also recently, just this year, decided to keep notes of my progression even in my hobbies and side projects. Mostly as I often forget how many things I try and do outside of my professional life.

Some closing words should go here. But I do think I said already a lot and also showcased how I approach these things and keep track of them. As benefits are many. There are no drawbacks that I can see or have experienced. It will help you see yourself in another light and have a better grasp on your progression along with the goals you have set for yourself. It will also make you objective of your own shortcomings and where you need to improve. I hope it is clear then, that when next time you ask yourself this question answer should be clear. So start now and if you believe that answer would be yes, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Just means there is an exciting and fun year ahead of you. Caution tip: don't overdo it as well, make it realistic in accordance with other important areas of our lives. Like family and having fun. Starting one thing at a time has a great compound effect, so maybe just stretching your comfort zone a bit is a great way to start. There is so much out there, lifetimes' worth of learning. Just pick something that you found interesting (learning should be fun) and take a stab at it. Connect with like-minded people, just send me a message, and see what they're doing. There is no better time to start than now, so just do it!

Until next time, let us see how well this post matured in a year and if I made also progress with it.