Senior Developer Mindset

Get To Senior Developer Faster By Avoiding 9 Mistakes Every Developer Does

I’ve been a developer myself for over 10+ years. I’ve coached hundreds of developers. With many of them reaching the top 10% in terms of career level and salary. 

For years, I thought about what it takes to become really successful in software development. It doesn’t matter if you want to make a lot of money or simply master your craft. Most developers want the first one, and later in their career, the second one. 

Here are 10 mistakes you want to avoid if you want to achieve massive success as a software engineer, whether you want to make more money, get an important title, or build your own tech company. 

It doesn’t matter if you have a CS degree or are self-taught, these tips apply to everyone. 

1. Understand Compound Interest

Getting to Senior Developer is a lot of work. First, you need to master at least one programming language and its corresponding frameworks. Then, you need to master best practices. Finally, you have to do the real thing: build software, make mistakes, fix them, work in a team, and make sure you don’t go crazy in the process.

I am talking hours and hours of staring at the computer and doing repetitive work. Day by day, year by year, until it all finally clicks. And even when things start to make sense and you start to get it, being a software developer is still a lot of work.

This discourages many developers because they miss one key point: a lot of work distributed across a long period of time is not that much work. They overestimate how much work they can get done in a week, and underestimate how much they can get done in a year. 

Developers who want to reach Senior faster understand that learning curves are exponential due to compound effects. In one word, as you keep on learning, you get better at learning. That’s when things get a lot easier. Don’t make the mistake of quitting before that.

2. Working on the Wrong Things

Most developers I know work very hard. But many are still stuck because they work hard on the wrong things. These can be startups where the project you work on never reaches any traction or even gets deployed to production, giving you very little feedback on your work. 

Or big corporations with huge legacy systems where your skills will decline steadily (I know developers who spend their whole day updating jQuery libraries). In any case, working on the wrong thing can literally destroy your career. 

What is the wrong thing?

The wrong thing can be anything that doesn’t align with your career goals. Anything that takes you off the trajectory you want.

Why do developers end up working on the wrong things? Because it is easy to swim with the current instead of taking control and planning your career yourself.

That requires you to think critically about the skills and the job market. It requires you to learn new skills. And it requires you to take risks.

Same with your skills.

Chasing the wrong thing a.k.a some new shiny progress can cause you to lose precious time and invest your energy into something that will not pay off.You see, between your job, family, hobbies, and keeping yourself healthy, you have little time to dedicate to learning.

You can’t mess around. You can’t spend a month chasing some shiny framework instead of building skills that matter (like your Fundamentals).

The less time you’ve got, the more you should think about how to use it wisely. Ensure you are doing the right things and learning them before you start pouring hours into them.

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

3. Lack of Self-Belief

No matter how hard you work. How smart you are. Or how much experience you have. You will fail. Projects will go wrong, budgets will be cut. Your job might be eliminated and some technical interviews will be traumatic.

This is why developers looking to get to Senior should be mentally prepared for a long and tough journey. You need to be patient, persistent and to have grit.

Here’s Rocky telling you the same in a more cinematic way: 

“The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place and it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.”

One reason I see developers getting stuck is they expect things to be easy. 

So, when things get hard, they break down. If you aim to be anybody in any kind of profession, you have to learn how to pull yourself back up when things get tough. 

4. Staying To Long In Dead-End Places 

From time to time as you switch jobs you will end up doing work you don’t like. Maybe it is projects with too much legacy code. Maybe the team is toxic. Maybe management is unprofessional. Maybe the salary is low or you don’t fit that well into the culture. 

While doing work that might not fullfil you is part of the job, staying too long in bad places is a career killer. One that way too many developers make. 

By staying in a bad developer job, you are missing out on work that can actually fullfil you and leaving money on the table. At the same time, your physical and mental health will suffer and be at the point of burn out. 

Toxic developer jobs are not worth it. If things go side-ways, don’t hesitate to switch jobs.

5. Thinking That Is Too Late For You

The biggest barriers we face as software developers are the ones we make up in our mind.

We tell ourselves we don’t have enough experience to apply for the job. Or enough technical skills to deliver and pass probation in case we do get the job. We tell ourselves that we are being greedy when asking for the kind of salary we deserve. 

Or we tell ourselves that we “missed that train” when it comes to a new technology.

Self-limiting beliefs will kill your career. And the worst part is that they are not easy to break - thinking critically about what one thinks is not easy at all. 

But if you want to get to Senior developer you have to start fighting those thoughts. Start loving yourself like your life depends on it. Because it very much does.

6. Letting Negativity Surround You

While self limiting beliefs are internal, there is another external enemy to your success. The good news is that this one is easier to get rid of once you identify the source of it. We live in an epidemic of negativity.

Every social media feed, blogging platform and news channel will try to steal your day by getting your attention. Negativity is like cancer for success. It is killing you softly and you don’t even know why.

And while it comes at you via digital devices, the biggest source of negativity will be the people around you. Whatever you will try to do, they will tell you that you should not do it. How it is all a bad idea and it is not going to work. How nothing is going well and how the world is going to pieces. Listen to me… get out of that crowd as soon as you can. You are better off alone than surrounded by losers. 

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

7. Being “Busy” Instead Of “Productive”

I know you tell yourself that you will do it tomorrow, but tomorrow doesn’t exist. You might think, “ohh, I will make up for it”, or “ohh I have plenty of time to catch up”. But you don’t.

Days become weeks, and weeks become months very fast. One day you will wake up and your developer career it’s over without you even realizing. 

When it comes to getting to Senior developer, procrastination will be one of your biggest enemies. The most dangerous kind of procrastination is when you feel productive because you are busy doing things, but those things add little value.

Over-engineering, refactoring code that was already working fine, tweaking the theme of your IDE for the 10th time, are in the end another form of procrastination. 

Great developers get busy with the things that matter. Major things that deliver value. 

8. Neglecting your Health

The more ambitious you are as a developer, the more you will be willing to sacrifice your physical and mental health for your careers. As a developer this will mean working long hours, including weekends and evenings, not exercising and not taking care of your diet. 

While you can cheat your body for a while, sooner or later the bill always comes

The mental health crisis we're seeing in the software development world is mainly due to people giving in to the hustle mindset and forgetting the basics.

No matter how successful you are, you can’t be healthy if you are not healthy.

Make your sleeping and eating habits a priority. Exercise at least three times a week.A healthy body and mind will keep you productive in the long term and keep you away from burn out. 

That’s already half the job when it comes to getting to Senior level and beyond. 

9. Chasing Success For its Own Sake

Nobody cares about the title you have on your LinkedIn, the money you make or how many leet code problems you solved. Okay, maybe your mom cares about it just a bit. But, the rest of the world doesn't really care. 

People are too busy thinking about themselves to think about you.

Which means chasing admiration, or fame is a losing game.

You will be wasting your time and never feeling fulfilled. Your developers career should help you support you, your family and your goals. It should also give you the chance to use your brain to build a better world.

But, in the very end life is about experience.

So no matter how fast you go, stop from time to time to appreciate what you have. Have a bigger goal to get you out of bed besides just making money. Life is a one way ticket. Don’t waste it.

Okay, this is it for today.

Avoid these 9 mistakes and you will already be ahead of most developers who are getting stuck and don’t even understand why.

I will see you in the next one!  

Take care,


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

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