A question was posted on the stellar StackOverflow site a while back, asking if there was any future for “old” developers.
Here is my answer, courtesy of the ingenious Stack2Blog site, slightly edited and reformatted:
Yes Virginia, There Is A Future For Old Developers
I resemble that remark.
I am 46.282191780821917808219178082192 years old as of this moment.
Say “No” More Often
I make more $ now than ever before – mostly due to starting my own business, and being more willing to travel. And more willing to say “No” to projects that don’t pay enough or don’t interest me.
Don’t Waste Time
I have far less tolerance for trivia than I used to – no time to waste. Code Golf, for example, or topcoder.com – not a productive use of my time.
Choose Shiny Things Wisely
Similarly, I have much less enthusiasm for the newest shiniest widget – not because I don’t care, but because they are so rarely a significant improvement.
Management Is Not The Only Choice
I have managed other programmers – 25 of them at once for one project – and hated it; I prefer to keep the team small and my hands in the code. I just don’t get any satisfaction from other people’s achievements; not that I wasn’t proud of my team, they were (almost) all stellar coders, it’s just that architecting, mentoring, et al are just not as much fun as actually creating things that work.
Constant Learning, Constant Improvement – It’s an Art, a Science, and a Craft
The code I write gets better each year; that’s what experience can do for you.
The lessons learned from 30 years (I started pro very early) in this career field make me far more efficient at analysis, research, learning, and coding than the five-year guys. Experience in a dozen industries makes for a big ‘ol bag ‘o tricks, and several different viewpoints to bear on problems.
Search and Work Efficiently
I am a Google master, and know how to time-box tasks so they don’t run away with the schedule.
I do not multi-task; I focus on one thing and do it well, then move on to the next thing. Texting, talking on the phone, chatting, emailing, and reading SO are all distractions that make me less efficient.
I cannot code for 36 hours straight subsisting on nothing but Mountain Dew and cookies any more. 20 hours is about my limit these days – and if I have to do that, it is a planning failure on my part [the aftereffects get more severe past about 35].
I value family time and non-technical time much more than I used to, but still love what I do.
Winnow Ideas, and Make More
I still have Big Ideas, more of them now than ever before…but less time to pursue them. So I choose only the best of the best to spend my time on, and let the rest fall to the floor.
I don’t think I want to be coding for a living when I’m 65, or even 55 – but then again, the tools should be really really cool by then, so who knows!?