Around year 4 of being a software developer for a large tech company I started to notice that I wasn’t entirely happy. Happiness is not a constant attainable thing, of course. However, I experienced long stretches of discouragement, boredom, and the feeling of pointlessness. On top of that, the pressures to get work done didn’t go away. In the end I realized I couldn’t keep this up. The lack of motivation to go to work and yet pushing myself to keep working hard took the toll of having no energy left to enjoy my free time or take care of myself. After seeking professional help of different varieties, I concluded that my job was the source of the problem.
You don’t wake up one morning after enjoying your job and suddenly find you just can’t take it anymore. I didn’t even realize at first that my job was the problem. I had to take stock of my life and put the data together. Here are some signals I noticed:
- My work day wasn’t 8 hours anymore – it was 6 hours of work and then 2 hours trying to push myself through a wall of fatigue and restlessness by doing mindless tasks no one else wanted to do (tip: this can earn you points and be a good cover)
- I was doing less of what I wanted to do – one of the “curses” of the tech industry is coming in enjoying coding and slowly being pushed into more management and “influencer” positions. I found that the stress of managing rooms of people was getting to be too much. This was my challenge but your challenges may be different.
- I was so drained by the end of the work day that I was snapping at friends and significant others. I needed to schedule “buffer time” of about 30 minutes to an hour to be by myself to regain some energy.
- When asked “do you like your job”, I was tempted to scream “NO!”
- I started talking to peers and mentors about my work experiences. The consensus was that I had to stop trying so hard, I had to change my situation, or I needed to try a different work style.
I considered several different options:
- Change the work environment
- Reduce exposure to the work environment
- Leave the work environment
- Change yourself
- Do nothing
I quickly eliminated doing nothing. I’m a person of action and believe I can create a world that I can work hard and be happy in. In the next few posts I’ll talk about the other options.
Spoiler: I’ve concluded that for me choosing to “leave the work environment” and create my own work environment through self-employment would be the best option.
- App for tracking your mood throughout the day, month, and year: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.daylio&hl=en
- If you like labels, this is what psychological burnout looks like: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201311/the-tell-tale-signs-burnout-do-you-have-them