I am in a somewhat, hopefully, common situation to many of my peers in NYC. I will be brutally honest here. I've graduated with CS degree (minor math) from a top 20 school, worked programming/qa jobs in software shops for 4 years, and then slowly moved to finance, taking jobs on Wall St (about 2+ years now). While I still do some programming, which is predominately in C/C++ (I kid you not). Most of the programming work revolves around maintaining a system or fixing minor bugs. And comparatively, I've been doing less and less of actual programming. And I've had almost no motivation to improve on that outside of the office. Bars, side hobbies, gym, women and most importantly LAZINESS are the essential culprits.
To be fair, I feel that I've NOT learned anything new, been forgetting old, and lagging behind all the cool technologies, as well as NOT getting better at or building on what I had known. I don't take part in the community (in college I posted on news boards, subscribed to major publications,etc). My math has also suffered tremendously.
I've also noticed that my notion of "programming" changed from cool/hacky to uncool/geeky/quick-route-to STOP gettting laid. This by itself is enough to explain why I've not evolved as a developer.
In a nutshell, I feel that instead of becoming a better professional, and thereby improving my skills in relevant areas, I head south at an alarming rate. I'm 30 now, and I do NOT want to exacerbate my situation even further. Ironically, I am very well paid, and living it up. I admit it's all facade, and one day it will all come crushing, once correction takes place. Very soon.
This weekend, I started re-reading Effective C++ series (by Scott Meyers), listening to math/cs video lectures on www.khanacademy.org/ and http://see.stanford.edu/see/lecturelist.aspx?coll=11f4f422-5670-4b4c-889c-008262e09e4e
I want to get back on track, but I don't have a definite goal and a plan, just ideas that I should (more like - MUST) to get my shit together. I would wholeheartedly appreciate some guidance, suggestions, recommendations. Please advise on what the best practices are. I need a plan.
Thank you so much!
Edit: Guys (and girls) -- thanks so much for support, valuable feedback, encouragement thus far. I'm glad this post was taken seriously and not dismissed as another troll attempt or attention hoarding. You have no idea -- all this will pay off in million ways for me.