Dan Kim

Life as an impatient programmer

Life as an impatient programmer

I have to admit — patience has never been one of my strengths. My parents tell me over and over, “Try to be more patient!”

It’s never quite stuck.

I get why they harp on me. Impatience is by definition pretty negative sounding:

having or showing a tendency to be quickly irritated or provoked.

But is being impatient always such a bad thing? Consider the alternate definition:

restlessly eager

“Restlessly eager”. I love that!

Said a different way, it means you’re enthusiastic, dedicated, and ambitious. You just have a little trouble directing all that energy.

But what if you could harness all that enthusiasm?

The positive results of impatience

It may sound strange, but being impatient has helped shape my programming career in a positive way.

If you’re like me, being impatient can help you become…

  • A better programmer. You won’t wait for someone else to fix a bug or an annoyance. You’ll create that app you need because it doesn’t exist yet. You’ll build systems and shortcuts for your daily work. This process of constantly building, learning, and tweaking keeps you sharp.
  • A well rounded professional. You won’t stay in dead end jobs that don’t challenge you. You’ll want to learn new things. You’ll want to improve stuff as fast as you can. This builds an arsenal of rich experiences that you can carry forward forever.
  • A better student. You’ll be an efficient learner. You’ll learn the stuff that matters and ignore the fluff. You’ll develop systems to learn faster and smarter. You’ll focus and work hard because there’s nothing worse than wasting time.
  • A better teacher. You’ll have spent so much time learning, you’ll already be a great teacher. You know what matters and what doesn’t. You’ve experienced success and failure in a wide variety of situations. You’ll want to pass on these experiences onto others.

Hey, being impatient doesn’t sound so bad after all!

Harness your impatience

I know, I’m making it sound like being impatient is all roses and it’s the key to success.

Of course it’s not that simple. Harnessing your impatience into positive energy is easier said than done. I’ve fucked up plenty because of my impatience.

Over the years I’ve found that, like many things, balance is the key. Not everything can be the ire of your impatience.

Try to pick your battles. Try not to get worked up about minor bullshit. Try to direct that energy at the important stuff.

Ask yourself lots of questions. When do you get impatient? When did you turn that energy into a success? When did you fail? What’s worth spending that valuable energy on? Who on your team can help keep you in check?

If you can answer those questions, you’ll be on your way toward harnessing your impatience.

You’re lucky. Not everyone is blessed with impatience. It’s a powerful motivator and a great source of energy. Use it to your advantage!

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