Senior Developer Mindset

3 Programming Myths That Keep You Stuck, Frustrated And Underpaid

What if I told you that the reason you feel stuck in your developer career has nothing to do with your technical skills?

It has nothing to do with Data Structures, System Design, or Software Architecture.

But it has everything to do with how you think about programming as a whole.

You see, ever since you started coding you’ve been conditioned to believe certain myths about being a developer that are ruining your career. It is why you suffer impostor syndrome and doubt your skills. Keeping you stuck at the same level, frustrated and underpaid. 

What’s worse, these beliefs are so embedded in our everyday lives as developers, that we take them as a given. We don’t even question them. Because we think they are reality. 

When in fact, they are just myths perpetuated by the community. 

Myths that haven’t been debunked yet. Partly because they sound good, on paper. In reality, they are dangerous biases holding you back from getting out there and building the kind of future you deserve. 

In this article, we will debunk those myths one by one.

So you can free yourself from limiting beliefs, take action on your most important goals, and unleash your full potential as a developer. 

Let’s start with the first programming myth that’s keeping you stuck…

1. The Myth Of Passion

Great developers are extremely passionate, the myth of passion says. They code in the evenings, and they code on the weekends. At night, they dream in code. 

Such passionate programmers can code endless hours without end. And they don’t even notice it. Because, of course, they are so passionate.

If you are not passionate enough to eat, sleep, code, and repeat, then you should pack your bags and find something else to do. My friend, being a developer is not for you. 

Go find something else to do. I heard McDonald's is hiring… 

What a bad message to send, particularly to fresh developers just starting out. 

The myth of passion is perpetuated by both developers and software companies. 

First by developers who are trying to sell themselves and get ahead. In part by showing how passionate they are. I don’t blame them. We all do that in some way or another. All I am pointing out is the negative consequence of that behavior.

And secondly, the myth of passion has been promoted by companies. 

Passionate people are very good for business. Because they are willing to sell their time cheaply. They spend hundreds of hours in the office making someone else rich. Because they are so passionate about what they do.

What do they get back in exchange for those unpaid hours?

I guess an emotional connection with their job. A feeling of belonging. Appreciation and purpose. Those are really powerful drugs.

But, guess what… You don’t need to give your time for free to some company claiming to be a family to get those feelings.

I double dare you :) 

Give your time to your real family instead. The one that doesn’t kick you out the moment you don’t churn enough lines of code.

Have a balanced life where coding doesn’t take most of your time.

Make friends and have hobbies besides work. You will get the same kind of fulfillment. Besides getting your time back!

The myth of passion is dangerous because it is another way of telling you that first, you are not enough (not passionate enough in this case). 

“Programming isn’t a “passion” or a “talent” but a collection of acquired skills.” - Jacob Kaplan-Moss (co-creator of Django, Python Framework)

The reason the myth of passion is so dangerous is that it taps into your biggest fear as a developer, particularly if you are self-taught.

The fear that “you are not enough”.

The second underlying message of the myth of passion is that you don’t work hard enough.

This makes you push more and more, ignoring your health and family, leading to burnout. It is why some companies are such toxic places to work for. 

In reality, the best software developers out there are very lazy. That is why they try to engineer things and be more efficient rather than throw brute force at a problem.

In my experience, one sign of a developer being a Senior is not having to code on the weekends.

Senior Developers choose consistency over passion.

Steady progress over bursts of productivity. They know “passion” comes and goes. And too much passion leads to burnout. 

When the clock ticks the time, the experienced developer puts the break on passion. They close the laptop and get out of the office. 

The funny part? 

By moving away from coding for a while, they will come back the next day much more fresh and eager to get their hands dirty. 

If you want to reach your full potential as a developer, forget the myth of passion. 

Focus on balance and consistency instead. As someone who’s been coding for more than a decade now, I can tell you a developer career is a marathon.

Now on to the second myth that is holding programmers back…

🚨P.S. Are you looking to fast-track to the Senior level with quality resources, feedback, and accountability? Click here to join our Free Community - The Senior Dev Academy. 🚨

2. The Myth of Experience

How do you get to Senior Developer? How do you get to Tech lead? How do you get more responsibility or a pay raise? 

Traditional advice will tell you there is no magic pill. You just need more experience. So hang in there. When your eyes are wrinkled and your back is hurting, you might get there. Or you might not. We don’t know for sure.

How reading developer job postings on LinkedIn makes you feel like. Image Credit: Reedit.

Although experience does matter, yet this myth is simply overused. 

First of all, not all experience is created equal. 

One can spend one year in a fast-paced startup and see it grow. Learning how to scale from a few hundred users to a few million.

Or spend one year maintaining some legacy enterprise software in a corporation. Learning little besides sending nicely formatted emails and office politics.

Note: The opposite can also happen. You learn nothing in the startup because the product never gets traction and you learn a lot in corporates because they already have the scale.

Experience expressed as years writing code is a poor indicator of developer Seniority. Time alone doesn’t translate to learning. It is what you do with that time that matters.

While there might be no magic pill for getting to Senior, there are patterns. 

If a developer emulates those patterns, they can dramatically accelerate their growth. This is why you find developers with 3 years of experience making 6-figure salaries while some Senior devs are still struggling to pay bills at the end of the month.

This myth of experience is holding you back because the message is the same: you are not enough (in the shape of you don’t have enough).

Am I saying you can get ahead without experience? That you can get to Senior Developer without any of it? 


But don’t overestimate the value of time. What you should value instead is execution. The boat moves faster when you row than when you just wait for the current.

There are two main reasons for perpetuating the myth of experience.

Number 1. Lack of knowledge.

When you ask a Senior developer what it would take you to get to the next level, and they don’t know the exact technical and soft skills needed, they will simply defer to the years of experience and not look stupid.

Number 2. Insecurity. 

If a Senior developer sees that you are trying to move faster than they did, the ugly part of the human spirit kicks in. Jealousy is very common in an industry that claims to be so open and friendly. Very smart people like software developers are usually very ambitious as well.

Software development is a very competitive industry.

We all collaborate and compete at the same time. And that’s okay as long as we make sure that competition is fair and don’t lie to ourselves saying otherwise. 

The myth of experience is an unfair way of competition. Instead of looking at people’s talent and skills, we pay more attention to an arbitrary number on their CV.

That chicken and egg problem. Image Credits: theSeniorDev

To escape the experience myth, shift your focus. Be more worried about your skills than about the time you spend at a certain job. 

If someone uses the argument of not having enough “years of experience” when you ask for something, don’t let them discourage you. Polish your CV and skills, start doing technical interviews, and let the market decide.

🚨P.S. Are you looking to fast-track to the Senior level with quality resources, feedback, and accountability? Click here to join our Free Community - The Senior Dev Academy. 🚨

3. The Myth Of AI

It is 2024 and there is no point in your learning how to code. Or how to become a better developer. Soon, AI will replace all of us! The end of coding is near, so why bother at all?

The Myth Of AI has been around for a few decades. But it’s never been so present until the release of ChatGPT and Github Copilot.

So, why bother to become a better developer in the first place?

You better hide. Image credits: theSeniorDev.

Software development was already very hard, and now you have the perfect excuse to drop it. 

It won’t even be considered a failure. You can blame it on Open AI. 

Not so fast. 

I will give you two reasons why you should still bother.

The #1 reason to keep on coding is because of the “meta” skills you are learning. Those are the skills behind the skills.

When you are learning how to code you are learning how to think. To think in a structured way. You are learning how to model business requirements into step-by-step instructions. You are learning how to focus, how to filter information, and how to work in a team. 

Even if machines themselves will do the implementation and coding soon, those “meta-skills” are highly valuable.

The #2 reason to keep crunching the keyboard is because from what we’ve seen so far, AI tools make many mistakes. They are prediction machines. They can’t think. Human reasoning is still in demand. 

Will those AI tools get smarter? 


Will they replace humans in the near future? Probably not.

Guess what, if you replace reading paranoid articles about how AI will replace you with actually getting better at software development, you will most likely never get replaced.

Or, by the time that happens, you will already be retired on some exotic beach.

The old age analogy.

Imagine you are 50 years old. The machines won. They automated everything. But, you kept on learning, adapting, and learning new skills. Making good money, investing for old age. You are now pretty smart and already retired. 

Let’s say instead that you gave into the AI paranoia going on right now. You gave up coding. You went and did something labeled as AI immune (don’t know if that exists, but construction jobs were top on the list). 

You made some money but didn’t learn much and ruined your body in the meantime. You are now old and you want a desk job. Something remote ideally. 

You have zero knowledge of how to make that happen. Your developer buddies who kept on coding are well off playing golf.

Giving into fear ruined your life. 

Don’t give in fear. Don’t ever stop learning and improving.

Image Credits: theSeniorDev

Keep on getting better. Upskill across the stack. Get familiar with AI. In a matter of months, you will catch up and be so grateful you didn’t give up.

Why are these programming myths so effective?

Because they tap into one of your biggest fears as a developer.

The fear that you are not enough. Not enough to get that job. Not enough to get that pull request approved. Not enough to be a “real developer”.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you will be able to see those myths for what they are. Pure misconceptions that are holding you back.

Don’t give into fear and keep improving your skills. 

Until the next one, 


🚨P.S. Are you looking to fast-track to the Senior level with quality resources, feedback, and accountability? Click here to join our Free Community - The Senior Dev Academy. 🚨

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