Senior Developer Mindset

How To Become A Senior Developer In 3 Simple Steps

The road you need to take to become a Senior Developer is long.

Most developers underestimate this difference—I know I did in my early days of writing code.

Becoming a Senior Developer comes down to understanding the big picture many developers cannot see.

It means mastering nontrivial skills like testing, Design Patterns, and Clean Code. But more importantly, it means having higher standards.

It is about making things work and ensuring they will continue to work in the future. It is about the standards you set for yourself, way beyond the quality of your code.

Then, it is about perspective.

It means replacing copy-pasting StackOverflow answers with understanding how it all connects. Understanding that building software is so much more than coding.

You must move away from memorizing bits and pieces and see the big picture.

And unless you can shift your thinking effectively, you will always be just another coder.

That is why some developers skyrocket their careers while others spend years looking at the same legacy code, stuck in the same job with no real prospects for their future.

So what can you do?

You get smarter.

You start doing things right when no one is watching. You stop taking shortcuts, and you stop copy-pasting. You widen your perspective.

To effectively become a senior developer, you must develop a higher level of technical and personal self-awareness.

You actually don’t have a choice.

I am lucky to live in Berlin.

Four years ago, I moved here to accelerate my software career — a digital capital in which the software industry has grown massively.

By watching the software community here, I witnessed the massive shift the software industry is going through. We used to talk about React; now, we talk about Web Components and Micro-frontends. Now, we discuss server-side rendering, performance, and time to the first byte.

I live a few blocks from the big European tech headquarters. N26, Zalando, and Delivery Hero, 

A decade ago, they were tiny startups. Now, they are public companies employing thousands of software engineers worldwide, and they claim they haven’t reached the maximum point in their growth.

This massive shift is not unique to Berlin.

With startups becoming multinational conglomerates, the software industry is growing exponentially, and so are the requirements of what it means to be a senior developer.

In software development, the game is just getting harder.

Funny enough, it wasn’t until I quit my developer job and started to mentor software developers that I became aware of these massive industry changes.

I realised the increasing complexity developers are exposed to now — the industry is growing, and technology is becoming more complex.

If we want to survive in this industry and have a future as programmers, we must transcend ourselves.

Since I have done this myself, I have also helped dozens of ambitious developers develop the technical expertise, depth of thinking, and discipline needed to reach the Senior level and beyond in this new environment.

Here are the fundamental lessons you must learn and mistakes to avoid when becoming a senior developer.

Most importantly, here is how to do it in 3 simple steps.

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

1.) Find Out What You Don’t Know

You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists.

As developers, the “community” bombards us daily with things we don’t know: new libraries, tricks, and ways to do this and that—thousands of blog articles, YouTube videos, courses, and workshops that we should understand.

Suddenly, you must master Design Patterns, Data Structures, Microservices Architecture, Web Performance, Algorithms, and Git commands to get by.

But let me ask you this: How many of those shiny frameworks will fundamentally improve your technical skills?

In reality, very few.

First, because your time is limited, you can’t possibly learn everything out there.

Second, most of them are nice to have. Will knowing 100 bash commands fundamentally change your understanding of software? Will memorising exotic algorithms on Leetcode make you more efficient at your job?

Most likely not.

Doctors don’t prescribe you the medicine that it is trending right now; they give you the medicine you need and the one that’s proven to work.

To successfully become a Senior Developer, you must first understand the exact gap between your current position and that of the “go-to” expert engineer. That gap depends on the size of the companies you worked for and the codebases you have worked with in the past.

You must take your time, do a bit of self-reflection and be strategic. 

2.) Go Beyond “Making It Work.”

Look, programming is simple. Even a high school student can get some lines of code to work. 

The hard part is getting those lines to work tomorrow as well. To make them easy to understand, easy to maintain, and easy to extend. That is hard.

It is about making things clean and giving them structure. Juniors care about making it work today, while senior developers care about how it will work tomorrow and the day after tomorrow.

You see, we all know we should write clean code. But when the deadline is getting close, we start taking shortcuts.

We hard-code things, repeating ourselves and being all over the place.

I get it; your manager only cares about the features you deliver, and you don’t want to get fired. The code doesn’t look great, but you will fix it later. For now, you just want to deliver, so copy-paste a bit and make it work.

Then, another project comes up, and you forget. 

Life gets in the way. You forget again. You lose motivation.

One line of lousy code becomes a module. A module becomes a project. Suddenly, you are surrounded by this spaghetti code monster.

Sooner or later, you ask yourself, “How the hell did I even end up in the middle of this mess?”.

Senior developers know their intuition is not fooling them. They know that when they take too many shortcuts, they are creating technical debt. A debt they will have to deal with through late evenings and extra weekends.

Even when the pressure is high, senior developers don’t give in. They stick to their guns and their standards.

They know that Clean Code is more than a book. It is a philosophy of irrefutable standards.

3.) Replace Memorization By Thinking In Patterns

You can’t memorize your way into software development.

If you want to one day architect applications, not just work on some legacy code that’s already there, you must understand the why behind what you do.

Senior Developers know the “whys” behind the code you write.

That is one of the main reasons some developers stagnate while others grow. They get stuck in the copy-paste mania.

I know many developer jobs don’t require you to think that much(in that case, you should consider jumping ship). Much of the work is repetitive, like building components or API endpoints.

So, how can you move away from memorization?

How can you learn the “why” behind things? The most efficient way we found is to pick those same things you use daily and look at them with a different eye.

Does it sound too abstract?

Here is a quick example. When people say Redux, engineers think of a state machine. When people say hooks, engineers think of separation of concerns. When people say components, engineers think of encapsulation.

In the end, the code you will deliver can be the same. It is your understanding of it that will be different.

And guess what? Once you do that. Once you understand those whys, you can use that knowledge in entirely different areas of software development.

You won’t be tied to the backend or the frontend; you won’t be just another framework developer or StackOverflow robot.

Keep doing this consistently over a long enough time frame, and while other developers will be guessing and hoping, you will get to senior level and beyond, predictably.


To successfully transition to Senior Developer, you first need to know what you don’t know to excel at software development.

Then, you must be disciplined to act on those gaps by focusing on patterns and things that don’t change.

You need to be comfortable with the big picture and stop relying on memorization. And you need to understand that making it work is not enough.

This is the ultimate transformation that allows some developers to make it to senior and architect positions while others jump from job to job, stuck in crappy software jobs.

Do you want me to help you in your journey to mastery as a developer?

If you are interested in mastering your craft as a developer, click here to jump on a 45-minute call with me. We will understand your goals and build a step-by-step action-oriented plan for you to excel technically as a programmer.

It will probably be the most valuable 45 minutes you invested in yourself this year as a developer.

See you soon,


P.S. A lot has been going on these weeks. We are shipping the 3rd version of our Software Mastery program. Within all this mess, I can barely find time to write. But I am getting back to it. All I ask is a bit of patience. In the meantime, if you want to join the group of developers who know they are smart and they can be even smarter, hit me up, and let’s have a chat :)

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

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