Thoughts on “Sustainable Motivations”

The Sustainable Motivations pattern is aimed at apprentices that are having a tough time sticking it out through the more difficult aspects of the craft.  These might not be constrained to the craftwork itself, but could involve management, handling stakeholders (practically it’s own craft, and probably deserving its own book and set of patterns), and just dealing with burnout.  Even if the apprentice hasn’t yet experienced a motivation deficit, they’re likely to encounter one at some point.  They also tell the apprentice to avoid “Golden Locks”, that trap a person in a position because it feels too good to give up, even though it does not contribute to longer-term goals.

Their solution is to commit motivations to writing, spacing some of them out over a few minutes.  They ask the apprentice to determine which of those are externally driven, which internal, and which may not be necessary.  The end result should be a list of five important things that motivate the apprentice, so they can “look at it when times get tough”.

Motivation can be tough for me.  I tend to be energetic at the start of projects or semesters, but struggle to find ways to keep going once the shine wears off.  One of my concerns as making my way in the professional world gets closer and closer to reality is that I won’t be able to sustain motivation.  I’m always worried that a month or two in, I’ll wear down and burn out and not be able to keep going even though I love programming.  As an apprentice software craftsman, finding ways to motivate myself (and the discipline to keep going if and when motivation fails) is probably one of the most important things I can do to set myself up for future success.

I realize while writing this that I don’t actually know for sure what my ambitions are.  I know that I want to spend some time in the software industry, if only to pay off my student loans and ensure that I’m comfortable.  Even if the motivation to do that is the only thing I get out of this pattern, it’s worth it.

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