Make yourself useful: How learning to code can dramatically change your life

On my desk I have a sign I made to remind myself of what’s most important to me in life:

Do what you love, what excites you.
Help others.
Think for yourself.
Share what you learn.
Play — mentally & physically.

Today, I want to focus on item #2: helping others. Or, another way I like to think of it: making yourself useful.

When you make yourself useful, or help someone else, you get a good feeling.

It’s what I strive for every day. And if you’re also ambitious, it’s probably what you spend the majority of your time doing, too.

Being useful comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be as simple as helping someone carry groceries or holding open the door. Offering a piece of advice. Or solving a problem.

Oh and let’s not forget that it’s also the infamous quip from busy mothers everywhere to idle children: “Go make yourself useful!”

But it’s hard to find a good combination of #1 and #2 above: doing something that you love that also helps others.

Finding your dream job is hard.

You make yourself useful throughout the day, but do you ever struggle with how you’re doing it? With what you’re doing?

Do you ever, or often, get bored, irritated, or restless when you’re at work?

Are you working a job that… just isn’t doing it for you? Dialing it in day after day and going home to watch Netflix at night? Or do you see other people doing things you admire? That you wish you knew how to do?

You might be in a dead-end job, and be well aware of the fact that it’s just that: a dead end. This can’t be your future.

Or maybe you’re simply still in school and you’re trying to decide what it is you want to do with your life.

If any of those struck a chord, know one thing: you’re not alone. In fact, you’re almost certainly in the majority. But: you don’t have to stay in the majority.

There’s something better out there, waiting for you. (That sounds very cliché. Deal with it. It’s true.)

The keys to a dream job

The key to happiness in your professional life is the following:

Do hard work that you love, and make yourself useful.

People ask “How?”

And based on my personal experience in life, I say: “I can teach you how to code.”


  • work on and solve real, important problems
  • have to work hard and think critically
  • make good money

For me, that’s a textbook slam dunk: I get to work hard (check), on real problems (which I love doing; so check), and make good money while doing it (bonus, but does not hurt).

But the equation is different for everyone.

How to find your own dream job

I get it from building custom applications to help people and their businesses solve problems and improve. I help them be better. I make myself useful. And I love doing it.

How do you do it? How do you get that same satisfaction?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you currently make yourself useful?
  • When do you notice that you’re feeling happy?
  • What moments at your job do you find yourself enjoying?
  • How could you improve your situation?
    • What would you like to do differently?
    • What one change could you make to your situation that would increase the amount of fun you have at work?
    • How do you feel about the rewards for your work – in regards to money, experience, joy?

Focus on making yourself useful. SEEK OUT work that lets you focus on things you love. Help others. And WORK HARD.

It’s not always easy. But it’s always worth it.

Alex Coleman helps others learn to build web applications with Laravel. His articles and courses have helped over 10,000 developers level-up their PHP web development skills and learn to build and launch their own web applications to the world. If you enjoyed this article, then join his free newsletter.