When someone talks about the diversification, it’s usually about financial assets. Every investor will tell you, that you should spread your investments amongst different sources of possible income. If you put 100% of all that you’ve got into a single asset and something goes wrong then you’re totally screwed. Yet, it’s not only about the financial market – let’s talk about diversifying our own skills.
Think about yourself and your own abilities for a minute – are you just a software developer and programming is the only useful skill (to make living off) that you possess?
What if all of the programming jobs were just gone? Do you have a backup plan or is that your only asset?
Don’t get me wrong – specializing in a single area is probably the best way to achieve a success. I’m also spending most of my time to improve my software development skills and all of the other areas that are connected to my daily job (soft skills, marketing etc.).
If I was told that programming is not needed anymore and had to change my job to a totally different domain, I wouldn’t be happy either. However, it wouldn’t take me too much time to start working on a totally different position. Since I’ve been doing sports for many years now and I also do enjoy reading scientific studies about how all these things are related to each other (training, nutrition etc.) I could make a transient switch from my main passion to another one (IT -> sports) rather painlessly.
Well, I could probably become a tutor and teach math or so, but honestly, I wouldn’t feel too good about it, since it’s not really my passion such as other activities. At least for me, an occupation has to be driven by passion. If I were to go to the office every day, sit there for 8 hours because I have to and then get back home and repeat the same process again day by day, month by month etc. for the rest of my life, I’d probably hate myself.
Even if we put aside this highly hypothetical example of the world without programmers, focusing mostly on a single area (like aforementioned programming) while skipping the other hobbies doesn’t seem to be a good idea. The thing is, that if you concentrate on a single topic for a long, long time and have no other activities that you could use to totally switch a context (and maybe get some rest as well), you may eventually go crazy about it. It’s not a joke – just take a look at some scientists (especially mathematicians) dedicating their lives to resolve a totally abstract theory. If it weren’t for their commitment, we’d still be living in the dark ages, however quite often they had to pay a huge price (e.g. sanity) for their great discoveries.
Think about what you like to do in your life and do it more often if you really enjoy it (besides sitting in front of the computer and writing a beautiful code that works flawlessly). You will quickly discover not only that you’re happier due to the fact that you spend more time with your hobbies but also the overall productivity will increase, simply as a result of switching context to a totally different domain than software engineering. It’s also a great way to prevent the occupational burnout, as you start feeling that hunger and desire to write code again, once you don’t devote all of your time anymore only to this particular activity.