Context — professional (high or low end) programmer career till my 70’s. The #1 derailer is not physical health  but my eventual decline of “brain power” including …?
 CSY and Jenny Lu don’t seem to agree.
This discussion is kinda vague, and my own thoughts are likely limited in scope, not systematic. Therefore, external inputs are extremely useful. I posed the same questions to multiple friends
Q2: what can I do now given my dev-till-70 plan defined above.
Q1: how do I keep my brain healthy, and avoid harmful stress?
— Josh felt that the harmful stress in his job was worse in his junior years when he didn’t know the “big picture”. Now he feels much better because he knows the full context. I said “You are confident you can hold your end of the log. Earlier you didn’t know if you were good enough.”
— Grandpa gave the Marx example — in between intense research and writing, Marx would solve math problems to relax the brain. I said “I switch between algo problem solving and QQ knowledge”
— Alex V of MS — Ask yourself
Q: compare to the young grads, what job function, what problems can you handle better? My mental picture of myself competing against the young guys is biased against my (valuable) battlefield experience. Such experience is discounted to almost $zero in that mental picture!
When I told Alex my plan to earn a living as a programmer till 70, Alex felt I definitely need a technical specialization. Without it, you have very little hope competing with people 40 years younger. I said I intend to remain a generalist. Alex gave some examples of skills younger people may not have the opportunity to learn.
- low-latency c++
- c++ memory mgmt
- specific product knowledge
- — I said
- .. I have a few skillist blogposts related to this
Mental gymnastics is good, like board games and coding practice and Marx’s math practice, but all of these are all secondary to (hold your breath) … physical workout, including aerobic and strength training!
Grandpa said repeatedly the #1 key factor is physical health, though he didn’t say physical health affects brain capacity.
I told Sudhir that I personally enjoy outdoor exercise more than anything else. This is a blessing.
Also important is sleep. I think CSDoctor and grandpa are affected.
Sudhir hinted that lack of time affects sleep, workout and personal learning.
- Me: I see physical exercise and sleep as fundamental “protections” of my brain. You also pointed out when we reach home we often feel exhausted. I wonder if a shorter commute would help create more time for sleep/workout and self-study. If yes, then is commute is a brain-health factor?
- Sudhir: Absolutely, shorter commutes are always better, even if that means we can only afford smaller accommodation. Or look for a position that allows working remotely more frequently.
Sudhir also felt (due to current negative experience) an encouraging team environment is crucial to brain health. He said mental stress is necessary, but fear is harmful. I responded “Startup might be better”.
–Jenny Lu felt by far the most important factor is consistent physical exercise to maintain vitality. She felt this is more important than mental exercise.
I said it is hard to maintain consistency. She replied that it is doable and necessary.
–Junli…. Felt mental exercise and physical exercise are both important.
When I asked him what I can do to support dev-till-70, he identified several demand-side factors —
- He mentioned 3 mega-trends — cloud; container; micro-service.
- Serverless is a cloud feature.
- He singled out Spring framework as a technology “relevant till our retirement time”
— CSY pointed out the risk of bone injury.
He said a major bone injury in old age can lead to immobility and the start of a series of declines in many body parts.
— XR’s demand-oriented answer is simple– keep interviewing. He felt this is the single most effective thing I can do for dev-till-70.