Three Is The Magic Number


Climbing the career ladder and getting exactly where you want to be involves a lot of work. Here are just some of the things that can make a big difference

However, if you try to do all of these things at once, you’re setting yourself up to fail. A good strategy is to devise a medium term plan so that you can steadily start doing more and more of the things that make you stand out.

There are various good resources that discuss where you want to be in 5, 10 or 15 years from now, and I believe that you should be conscience of that, however what you don’t want to do is fall into the trap of feeling that you have ample time to work and sort it these out for yourself. This is not manufacturing an urgency, it’s manufacturing a complacency.

The time to start acting it now. What better way is there to increase your chance of being highly successful in 5 years time than if you have already done it in 3 years? So I recommend 3 as a maximum – if you believe that you can succeed sooner then even better! There are plenty of people who have completely turned their lives around in much less than 3 years.

Picture yourself where you ideally want to be. What do you want to get out of life? Think big, make that a goal for yourself, and write it out somewhere that you’ll see every day. Pick a few things that you’d like to accomplish this year, including one big objective, and publish an article setting out your goals – this way not only will you not forget them, you are committing to them so that you’re much more likely to succeed.

Break it up into a number of achievable goals so that if you don’t have time to do everything, you can still be proud of what you have achieved. Allow yourself enough flexibility that you can work on some new things as you find them. It’s fine for some of your smaller objectives to change as you find new interests, but try to not to change your big goals.

One of the benefits of having an explicit big goal is that it not only makes the things that you should be doing much clearer, it also makes a lot of things that you should not be doing much clearer. For example, maybe there is a new framework just released that you’ve heard about that sounds interesting. Maybe you should learn it? Should you? That depends on whether it will lead you towards your big goal. If not, save yourself the time required to focus on the things that do more you closer to your big goal. Don’t let yourself get side-tracked.

What you want to achieve for next year and the year after is not something you need to plan in detail. It’s likely that some of your plans will change as you learn more, but 3 years is a good realistic time-frame for achieving most of the things listed in the course.

Continuous Self Improvement

If you’ve seen my guide to the Top 10 courses on Pluralsight you might have already noticed that my top 3 all cover the same theme of self improvement. Put continuous self improvement at the heart of what you do and what you are and everything else will become easier.


Watching Cory House’s Outlier Developer course taught me that there are Seven Life Areas

  1. Social – Family and friends
  2. Intellectual – Self Development
  3. Spiritual – Religion
  4. Psychological – Emotions
  5. Recreational – Having Fun
  6. Physical – Health
  7. Professional – Your Job

It is important not to completely neglect any of these things. However it is useful to understand what your own priorities are. My recommendation is you make self development your top priority. If you do this well, after a while everything else will start to fall into place. You’ll know to make some time for your family, for your health etc. and no other aspect will fail. Your life will become much less about doing one thing versus the other and more about gradually improving yourself and enjoying life more.


Reaching your big goal is never easy. However, focusing on your on self improvement gives you a significant advantage over other developers. There are very few genuinely great developers in the world, because becoming a great developer requires many thousands of hours of practice, but there are many more good developers with great habits. Once your habits improve, you may find that you are already a good developer, and from there you are on the fastest road to becoming a great developer.

Work hard, but don’t work yourself to death. Have fun and always congratulate yourself on every achievement. Also remember to congratulate other developers on their own achievements – it will give them a boost and in turn they will give you a boost back.

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