Coding for Fun and Coding for Work: Why It's Important to Make Coding a Hobbyby@andrewgor
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Coding for Fun and Coding for Work: Why It's Important to Make Coding a Hobby

by Andrew GorkovenkoJuly 13th, 2023
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78% of all developers say that they code as a hobby, according to Stack Overflow. Here are some suggestions on how to shift your perception of coding to make it more of a hobby and less of a profession. Hackathons and other coding competitions can also help shift the perception and trick your brain.
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Why is it so difficult to be successful at something, and why does progressing and achieving new heights seem easier for some people and almost impossible for others? Success is pretty much always a complex combination of various factors, which are very hard to recreate. That’s why the majority of “recipes to success,” widely available online, are just not very effective.

One thing can be stated with a fair degree of certainty: the approach is very important here. If you are trying to achieve success in something that you are genuinely interested in and enjoy doing, the chances you’ll get there increase tremendously.

Why You Should Make Coding a Hobby

When it comes to programming, that is also very much the case. Studies show that for the majority of truly successful professional programmers, coding is more than just a job. It is also their hobby. According to Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey 2020, about 78% of all developers say that they code as a hobby. Even though it’s nothing new — clearly, it is much easier to get good at something that you actually are interested in — more often than not, we tend to overlook these fundamental things, focused on practical stuff such as jobs, salaries, and choosing the technologies to learn.

If your goal is to have a successful career in coding, your chances of reaching this goal will be higher if programming for you is a hobby. The benefits of this kind of approach should be self-evident.

But what to do if programming just never happened to be your hobby? Well, personal interests, natural talents, and predispositions are important factors, but it’s not like they are determinants.

How to Make Coding Your Hobby

So, here are a few suggestions on how to shift your perception of coding to make it more of a hobby and less of a profession.

Social interactions

People are social creatures. As our monkey brains are not really capable of dealing with all the world’s complexity on their own, we need to constantly be in touch with others to receive feedback from them and exchange information. Programming, on the other hand, can be very lonely, especially if you are learning and practicing it online at home.

It can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Increasing your contacts with like-minded individuals, both wannabe programmers, and accomplished developers, can make a significant difference. So looking at it as also a way to meet new people, find friends, and just have individuals to share your experiences with could make coding a lot more like a hobby.


Another way to leverage the human factor is to find a coding mentor or at least someone more experienced who can keep you company along the way, support you and share their passion in this field. That’s one of the reasons why mentoring is quite a popular concept in software development. Finding a mentor can be extremely useful for those who feel they cannot make it on their own, generally have trouble with solo learning, or are just looking to apply every possible tool to make the most from learning.

Hackathons and other coding competitions

You can also use our natural desire to compete and outperform one another to shift the perception and trick your brain into enjoying coding and everything about software development. Participating in hackathons and all kinds of coding competitions is a great way to do this. Competing with others would also allow you to progress faster.

Coding games and gamified learning

Learning how to code and practicing programming skills while playing games has proven to be a great way to teach your brain to perceive it as something fun. There are multiple coding games available, and playing them can be exciting and even addictive. Learning how to code also doesn’t have to be a boring and exhausting process.

Personal projects and startup ideas

If you are an ambitious and entrepreneurial person, try to start your own project or at least come up with the concept of a project or a startup that you would do if you had those coding skills. The idea of the project can be tied around some other hobby or interest of yours. Of course, working on a standalone project is not easy, especially for a beginner.

Should Coding Be Your Hobby? Opinions

Traditionally, let’s conclude with some views and opinions on the matter from experienced programmers with long and successful careers.

“It’s great to enjoy your job, and sometimes you need extra effort to develop, but the work-life balance will keep you sane in the long run. Sometimes I program outside of work (in support of my wargaming hobby). Sometimes I bake; sometimes, I entertain friends, I have a monthly book club, and I volunteer for a charity. For me, having multiple outlets and lots of friends is all that keeps me sane,” said Les Howie, a software developer with decades of professional experience.

“It is a hobby of mine. I enjoy it, and I spend much of my free time doing interesting projects that are quite different from my regular work. People are different. If you’d rather do something else, do something else. Programming as a hobby works when you do it for the sake of a project you are passionate about. Otherwise, it becomes tedious and burns you out,” warns Ruben Ravatsås.

“I moved on from programming to a CIO role and indirectly managing programmers and developers. However, after 30 some years since I started my technology career, I have always been, and am now, a recreational coder. For me, it's challenging and fun and more useful than crossword puzzles, golf, bowling, or watching TV,” believes Mark Christopher Bolgiano, an experienced programmer and data scientist.

Also published here.