Andy Crouch - Code, Technology & Obfuscation ...

Turning 40

American Football Field

Photo: Martin Reisch - Unsplash

Tomorrow I turn 40. To some people, this may be a massive life event to celebrate (or commiserate). For me, it’s nothing more than another day. When people ask how I feel about my life I tend to think of the following quote from The Big Bang Theory.

“Just like everyone else’s. Subject to entropy, decay, and eventual death. Thank you for asking.” - Amy Farrah Fowler

While I am a little indifferent to turning 40 it has made me reflect on a few things. I have never taken advice well and I do not suggest you listen to me. But, I will write the things I have learnt in life so far and you can take from it what you will.

Surround yourself with interesting, brilliant people.

This is not groundbreaking advice. To grow as a person you need to surround yourself with people that will push you out of your comfort zone. Work with people that make you think and make you question everything you do. Find mentors and learn from them, ask them even the stupidest of questions. The moment you feel comfortable in a profession or a job then you need to rethink your career or find a new job.

Don’t stop learning.

This doesn’t refer only to being a programmer (or whatever you do as a day job). This means read. Read a lot. Read books. Read the internet. Take advantage of the vast quantity of online learning resources. Appreciate the opportunities and knowledge it provides but mindful it can make anyone an expert.

(Pause for ironic effect given the title of this post).

Do things that make you happy outside of work.

There is a theory that to be good at whatever you do, you need to be doing it 90% of your waking hours. This is not true. The key to staying focused on achieving is to sometimes walk away and do something else. There is a culture in some company’s to expect 70 hour work weeks. This is not productive. While you may be working for a prestigious company, you will not be doing your best work. Developers do not need to be building side projects out of work hours to prove they are excellent at what they do. Have hobby’s, go on holiday and enjoy time with your family.


As you get older you become time poor. Learn to prioritise everything. Once you have a family and commitments you will not be able to go to every conference and hackathon. Learning every new language and JavaScript framework becomes pointless. Learn to focus on the important things and create some time to focus on them.

People come and go.

You will make friends throughout life. Social Media has bred the belief that you have to remain friends for life once you have conversed once. This is rubbish and you may outgrow friendships or they may outgrow you. That’s normal and while some take some getting over don’t look back. Don’t treat others badly or in a way in which you wouldn’t want to be treated yourself. Don’t harbour bad feelings and be open and direct with everyone important in your life.

Be your own person.

Finally, people have opinions and views. The only person whose opinion and views you have to focus on are your own. You will disagree with a lot of people but that’s normal. Be respectful and do not force your views on other people. You can try and educate them but they are their own person as well. We are all the result of the millions of conversations, interactions and experiences that have come before this moment. If you don’t feel good about something then don’t do it. If you wouldn’t say something to someones face then do not write it.

Thats it! Now where is the cake?