You are likely to spend as much as 30–40 hours a week in front of your computer as you train to become a competent and hirable programmer. And even after you complete your training, you will spend more than 60% of your waking hours there, typing and clicking as you write for loops and HTML tags and CSS rules and functions and algorithms, in a seemingly infinite loop of work-work-get-paid-work-work on a lifelong journey of economic stability and quest for mastery.

Programming will demand much of your time during the first five years of your programming career.

When you learn to code, you may have to (perhaps you should) quit your full-time job or significantly reduce the number of hours you work or even work part-time, so that you can find enough time to focus on your programming education. You need ample time to study; this is the most important factor for success in programming education. And you will take longer to complete your programming training and find a job than you planned.

For these reasons, you will need the support and cooperation of your family while you train to become a programmer—and you will need them to understand why you are spending most of your free time coding and not with them. This is a sacrifice you have to make and your family will have to agree to, if all of you are serious about your realizing a successful programming career.

In fact, you should ask your family to read this article and some of the other ones in the series, so that they get a sense of what becoming a programmer and working as one entails.

The rest of this article continues after the series’ table of contents below.

Your Path to Economic Prosperity

Generally, there exist three fundamental paths to economic prosperity (besides inheritance and winning the lottery):

  • Entrepreneurship: You build your own successful business.
  • Investment: You earn your wealth from investments and capital gains earnings.
  • Rewarding Career: You (like most prosperous people) have a high-paying, rewarding job. The single most common way, by far, to get a financially lucrative job is to get a good education or otherwise acquire marketable skills or expertise—what economists call human capital.

Frontend engineer, software engineer, web developer, mobile developer, cybersecurity engineer. These are not just among the highest-earning careers, but they are also among the long-lasting careers. All of them have high projected growth over the coming 10 years, as you will read in a related article of this series, All the Programming Careers and Everything About Them—Including Responsibilities, Education, Available Jobs, Qualifications, and Salaries. Thus, if you want to get a lucrative job that sets you on the path to prosperity for the long term, you should consider a career in programming and be prepared to make the sacrifices to realize your aspirations.

But, as we discussed in the prior article in this series, obtaining the skills and expertise to become an employable programmer requires prodigious time and effort, the sort that few people are willing to give or have the privilege to afford. This is also one of the reasons these careers are in high demand and pay as well as they do, among the top two of highest paid careers for recent college graduates.

You would agree then, that during your studies, you will need to put in a Herculean effort—and you will need the financial and emotional support of your family. Fortunately, the time and effort you and your family will be required to devote, and the sacrifices all of you will make, could very well be the best investment you and your family may ever make.

Just look at some examples of others who have made the sacrifices: Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Sebastian Ramirez-Brunner (a Bov Academy student), Richard Bovell (me, as you will read below), and tens of thousands of others.

I went through a similar state of affairs: My family and I had to sacrifice (forgo all sorts of life necessities and comforts, and even suffer the shame of living in despair) while I spent two years pursuing my computer science (CS) degree in college (I had previously studied Biochemistry but transferred to CS in my senior year). We barely made enough for food and to pay some of the essential bills—a period I characterize as the most deficient and unwholesome of my life, up to that point.

Nevertheless, as soon as I graduated, within days, actually, I landed a great job with a salary close to $100,000. My life changed completely from that day forward.

Such sacrifice is more common that you may think. I personally know of some Bov Academy students who went through similar circumstances. For example, one of the best students at Bov Academy had to forgo full-time work while his fiancé worked full-time and allowed him to pursue his programming career, even though his not working full-time put he and his fiancé under uncomfortable financial strain.

And just as I benefited immediately after I left college, so, too, the Bov Academy student got a great job within just a few short weeks after he began looking for a job, once he completed enough of his training at Bov Academy.

Why Pessimism From Family Members Can Be Detrimental

I discuss pessimism in depth in an upcoming article in this series because it is far more consequential than you know. For now, I want to urge you to encourage your family to be as supportive as possible—not just by allowing you the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career, but also by encouraging you verbally and giving you sufficient time to complete your studies and find a job. This last point is perhaps the most important of the lot.

You need ample time to complete your studies. Often, family members get anxious and run out of patience and give up hope. You need their support especially when you are having doubts and find yourself taking longer to complete your studies than you expected.

At some point during your training, there is a good chance you will get burnt out, no matter if you are enrolled in a three-month crash course like a coding boot camp or a more rigorous seven-month program like an accelerated coding academy.

I believe a significant number of people training to become an employable programmer get burnt out at least once and may even want to give up. One of the worst things your family can do, particularly when you are not at your most confident self, is make you feel bad for taking too long to complete your studies or to give up on you before you get the chance to complete enough of your training to get a great job. Both of these negatives fall under the category of pessimism.

What You Really Need From Your Family: You need positivity and encouragement, and I am hopeful you will get them from your family.

If You Are a Major Breadwinner for Your Family, the Guilt of Your Personal Aspirations and the Pressure to Succeed in Little Time Can Be Suffocating

As we discussed in the third article in the series:

People who are breadwinners in their family can face backlash from family members and can feel unrelenting pressure from their family to complete their programming training in little time. This pressure along with pessimism (e.g. discouragement or disappointment or criticism) from your family can, on its own, kill your programming education and career faster and more effectively than just about all the other reasons on this list.

A person pursuing a career in programming (changing their career) is likely to feel some amount of guilt for putting their family through a period of severity and pressure for wanting to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. Further, if the person (the student) takes longer than expected to complete their training, any criticism on the matter from a family member could further exacerbate the student’s fragile state of mind.

These powerful negative forces demotivate the person to the extent that the person gives up their aspirations of a programming career.

What Is Sacrifice?

Are you willing to quit your full-time job and work a low-income, part-time job while you pursue a career in programming? Is your spouse willing to work full-time, if he or she doesn’t already, just so that you can complete your training? For that matter, is your spouse willing to work more than full time, if necessary, to support you and the rest of your household while you study?

Is your spouse willing to accept that your training may last 4–6 months longer than you originally planned, and is he or she willing to stick with the plan, if for some reason you need more time to complete your training? Are you willing to get rid of cable television, forgo eating out, pay bills late, and even allow your credit score to drop due to late payments on your bills? Are you willing to borrow money, if you find yourself in dire need?

All of these compromises and difficulties and indignities represent a sampling of sacrifice.

You and your family should ponder the following questions: Do you prefer to feel comfortable and proud working low- to middle-income jobs for the rest of your life? Do you prefer to remain at a job you hate and that stresses you out (even if you are paid well at that job), as opposed to find a better and more rewarding and fulfilling career?

Or might everyone prefer to sacrifice for a few short months so that one person can focus on acquiring a lucrative career that can bring the entire family prosperity?

All the indignities you suffer will be long forgotten once you achieve your goals—when you get a stable rewarding job that helps to bring you and your family upper-middle-class prosperity and more for the rest of your lives.

Exercises: Actions You Should Take Now

Exercise 1: Hold a Serious Meeting with Stakeholders in Your Family

Have a meaningful meeting with the stakeholders in your family. By stakeholders, I mean anyone who will be negatively affected by the sacrifices necessary for you to become a programmer and anyone who will benefit from the success of your programming career. Specifically, discuss:

  • The limited time you will have for your family as a result of the stupendous amount of time you will spend in front of your computer learning to code and improving your programming knowledge and skills
  • The little financial help (if any) you will be able to contribute to pay crucial household expenses as a result of the 20–40 hours a week required for your studies
  • The importance for you to pursue your aspirations now
  • The sacrifices anyone else in your family may have to make to allow you to pursue a career in programming.
  • And the extraordinary benefits (economic prosperity and others)—including potential financial windfall and autonomy and technological advancement you will contribute to—you and the entire family stand to gain from your becoming a programmer

Exercise 2: Ensure You Have Solutions to the Matters Discussed with Your Family

Ensure you and your family have a concrete, realistic, and agreed to long-term plan for all the points noted in Exercise 1 above.

OKRs Accomplished?

Have we accomplished the objectives we set out to accomplish at the beginning of this article? The key results will tell us; let’s find out.

Key Results to Determine the Success of Our Objectives

The key results, as noted in the beginning of this article, are the specific concepts or ideas you should have learned and the steps you should have taken to accomplish the objective(s). Accordingly, at this juncture, you should have grasped and completed the following; these are the key results:

  1. You and the stakeholders in your family had a productive meeting and resolved the matters that must be resolved for you to become a programmer.
  2. You have a long-term plan that takes into account the possibility that you could take an extra 4–6 months longer than you think you might take to become a programmer.
  3. Your family understands intimately why your becoming a programmer is crucial for you and also for the success of the entire family.
  4. You feel confident you will get the support of your family for the entire duration of your programming studies and after you get your first programming job.

Recommended Reading List to Expand and Refine Your Knowledge on the Topics Discussed

The books in the list below will enrich your life and help you on your path to success. Some of them will give you a jolt of inspiration. All of them will enlighten you on subjects you may not know or that you know little of.