Understanding your innermost desires and drivers that lead to you wanting to make this journey is a crucial step. To help discover your inner cause, it's often useful to look back and review your work history.
Let's take a minute to sit back to ask ourselves – and you may even want to write your own personal answers down to these – the following questions:
- How many jobs have I had?
- How often have I changed jobs?
- How many companies have I worked for?
- Have they been in vastly different businesses or sectors?
- Did I instigate these changes, or did they happen to me because someone else made a decision that affected me, such as redundancy?
The answers to these questions are all key indicators. If you have proactively changed jobs frequently, it's a likely sign that you are searching for something more, and is a sign of your curiosity, inquisitive nature, or even that you easily get bored, depending on how positively you choose to look at it! Either way, it's a sign.
If you don't change jobs regularly, or if you've worked in a variety of organizations, then perhaps you love what you're already doing, or simply feel comfortable and safe in your current environment. This is not negative; a safe and secure environment can actually be a wonderful place to start your journey.
Perhaps you've been asked to make the change by someone else. Sometimes, we all need a nudge, a pep talk, or even to be forced into something we didn't think we were capable of or think we would even enjoy. This acts as another possible starting point. The "Accidental Manager," which we'll explore in more detail throughout this book, is often associated with this scenario.
Each starting point has its own merits, advantages, and disadvantages. Whatever you do, don't let your own starting point become a psychological barrier to actually starting. Choose to see it as a springboard, and as a source of infinite possibilities, which it is. It would be extremely boring if everyone's journey started at the same place and followed the exact same path!
It is also important to note that this journey is not a race. Like the projects you've been working on, time is only one part of the time, cost, and quality triangle, which is also known as the Project Triangle and Triple Constraint. I honestly believe that if you focus on quality, your journey will ultimately be more fruitful. After all, this is your career we're talking about, which is not just another project!
Achieving true quality requires commitment in many ways. You will be able to appreciate the quality of your own journey first-hand through your subjective experiences along the journey you're going to take. You'll also see how the reality of your journey compares to your expectations, and you'll experience other people's responses to your journey.
Let's talk about time scale. The Developer-to-Manager journey is not a single leap or overnight transformation. It's okay to be spurred on by quick wins and instant gratification. Just understand that they're not the be-all and end-all, since making a change from being a developer to a manager is a journey, and, as with any journey, it's important to have checkpoints and milestones along the way.
All these checkpoints would be useful tools that allow you to gauge your progress, whatever that may mean to you. Overall, you must be willing to be in it for the long haul, because you don't know how long the journey will ultimately be. The adage that it's about the journey, not the destination, is absolutely true.