Scott Hanselman

Software and Saving Babies

June 10, 2015 Comment on this post [54] Posted in Musings
Sponsored By

I used to have a saying to put things into perspecive when things were getting really crazy at work and we were freaking out over the Daily Crisis:

Breathe. It's just software, we're not saving babies here.

Now, to be clear, if you ARE saving babies or working on software that does, for crying out loud, don't breathe and make sure you've got unit tests!

Baby Squirrel by Flickr User Audreyjm529 used under CC

But for the majority of us, we're not saving babies. We're not writing Mars Rover code. We're making insurance systems, shopping carts, the next Facebook or Uber, or just doing CRUD. Perspective helps. Sometimes you just need to go for a walk, take a vacation, or well, quit. You've got your health, family, and little else.

His father asked Ethan in a raspy voice, "You spend time with your son?"

"Much as I can," he’d answered, but his father had caught the lie in his eyes.

"It’ll be your loss, Ethan. Day'll come, when he’s grown and it’s too late, that you'd give a kingdom to go back and spend a single hour with your son as a boy. To hold him. Read a book to him. Throw a ball with a person in whose eyes you can do no wrong. He doesn't see your failings yet. He looks at you with pure love and it won't last, so you revel in it while it's here."

Ethan thinks often of that conversation, mostly when he's lying awake in bed at night and everyone else is asleep, and his life screaming past at the speed of light—the weight of bills and the future and his prior failings and all these moments he's missing—all the lost joy—perched like a boulder on his chest.

- Pines (The Wayward Pines Trilogy, Book 1)

It's cliché, sure, but sometimes clichés need to be said more. Wisdom is the comb you get when you hair is gone, right?

There's a post on Hacker News today called "I quit the tech industry" that you should read. The TL;DR is that working in software for money just wasn't working for this person. It wasn't feeding their spirit, so now they're going to try to make something else work. What a challenging decision it must have been, but at the same time, if something isn't working, why keep doing it? Perhaps it's burnout, but perhaps it's something else. More power to this person for taking care of themselves, and I wish them all the best.

How do you avoid burnout? How do you stay passionate? Sound off in the comments.

* Baby Squirrel by Flickr User Audreyjm529 used under CC

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

facebook twitter subscribe
About   Newsletter
Hosting By
Hosted in an Azure App Service
June 10, 2015 21:56
I stay passionate by writing open source. I was fired once. I was out of work for two weeks. I fixed a bug in PHP between dealing with recruiters

The thing I never have time to do at my day job is the really interesting saw sharpening and infrastructure honing. That's what I do in my free time. That's the OSS I do.

It doesn't scale as well now that I have a kid. I guess I need to get into robots or something, or hack on babysmash. Something I can share with my kid. She's almost 2 years old. So now I do OSS on the train and walk up and down the block with her.
June 10, 2015 21:58
I mentioned this in my response, but at least put some context here. Eevee lives in a house with 3 other adults, a paid off house, and no children, just a bunch of cats. S/he has quite the support system in this matter.

Even with all that said, I find myself in a similar position. I keep a picture of my daughters near my desk, to remind myself why I am doing this. I also track my time to ensure I give my employer exactly 8 hours of my time. When I am home, I fully disconnect from my job. I still read Hacker News, play with technology (Rust seems intriguing to me), but I avoid anything to do with my job. I also learn from sites like Mr. Money Mustache and the Simple Programmer to learn how I can lessen my dependence on my employer. I read as well. I meditate and exercise. Will I advance to the highest tiers of business? Probably not. Will I work for myself? Maybe. Will I strive to make sure my family comes first? Definitely.
June 10, 2015 22:02
Many things
1. Vacation isn't 2 weeks a year, take a little vacation every day, take a little vacation several times a day. Go read a good article, take a walk, have a pint, enjoy a laugh
2. Find something you're passionate about, and give some time to it each week, volunteer, a make project, geo-caching, etc.
3. Make time for the people significant in your life.
4. Look around you and think, What a beautiful day, bird, sky, etc.
5. Put away the electronics. I backpack for a week at least once a year

I say all of this and I see it now but it was much harder to understand when I was just happy to be working and making money

June 10, 2015 22:03
"How do you avoid burnout?"

Honestly I am not sure. I can do my best to stave it off for a while, but it creeps in. The best thing I have done so far is to become passionate about something else that has little to do with software engineering or technology in general. For me, it is woodworking. I started hand-making wooden toys for my daughter, which turned out to be pretty enjoyable. I have a reasonable balance in my life now. When I leave work, I leave work there, then do something else. I use to do a 8~10 hour days at work, come home and... write more code anyway. I do enjoy writing code, and I don't forcefully limit myself from using a computer, but being able to walk away and do something else I enjoy is really, really helpful.

"How do you stay passionate?"

Since I am able to walk away from it for a bit and do other thing, I remember what I like about it. Not getting entrenched and burnt out gives me the opportunity to remember why I liked writing code in the first place. There is always the usual: go learn new things. It's hard to be passionate about the exact same thing for years on end. Sometimes that means a job change, a position change, or working with your employer (if you aren't self employed) on bringing in some new things.

I think doing something besides my primary job is very important. Whether it's getting involved in OSS or tinkering with something in my free time like an Arduino, they give me the chance to learn something new. I get quite a kick out of doing something I've never done before (I made a piezo speaker beep!) is very rewarding. The reward for creating another database table and shoving data on a page doesn't exactly do it for me anymore.
June 10, 2015 22:15
Of all the good posts through the years, this is perhaps the best. So many people look up to you. It's important for them to hear you say "keep your priorities in check".

I'm not really a software developer anymore, but I have been incredibly fortunate to work from home for the past 14 years. During that time, I've been there every day while my two sons grew up and I've been part of their lives -- something I never experienced from my own workaholic father.

I squandered a lot of opportunities and so I don't have an empire or a kingdom to show for 14 years of working for myself, but I do have the one thing that really matters.
June 10, 2015 22:18
To avoid burnout entirely, I unplug and... sing/play guitar (currently reading basic blues), go watch my wife ride horses, enjoy a weekend getaway thanks to work's airline benefits or sit and watch Netflix or Redbox (especially since we abandoned cable at our house years ago).

To stay technically passionate, I play with technology, watch some PluralSight or read some O'Reilly Safari books. Lately it's been Groovy and NodeJS. Or, make the best business case I can to the bosses that we need a PoC (especially trying to skip right past IaaS into cloud PaaS). VSCode is awesome! (well... on it's way to being awesome) Is MS ever going to "shrug off" the Java pains of the past and become the best editor for Java again (since the Sun debacle)? Seems like a crazy small step from C# and JS code editors... (let's not hold our noses and chins too high in the air ;) Watching IBM BlueMix and Google Cloud grow while enjoying MS Azure and Amazon AWS and toying around with CloudBees or Cloud Foundry. Open source tooling is always a fun, moving target to watch. Client frameworks like AngularJS, AngularUI and Bootstrap and dreaming of a server-side-code-free world (still presents challenges for SEO rendered pages [Google, Bing]). Dreaming of being able to use fun things like Razor TagHelpers and pondering how we came full-cycle in MVC from "runat=server" :P Wondering why Content as a Service (ECM) hasn't "made it" yet or robust CMS in a PaaS environment with affordable pricing (ultimately just cheap storage with versioning and workflow). Evaluating how virtuals are evolving and the latest things like Docker and Vagrant.

I barely touch the noise of Twitter on occasion and have a hard time really plugging into GitHub, but find them both useful resources. I keep an eye on Gartner quadrants as I ultimately have to support cases for "enterprise" solutions.

Oh... and then there's mobile and IoT.

... and those VIPs who still have blogs or cool podcasts that I have to occassionally check-in with. :D
June 10, 2015 22:18
Definitely feeling the burnout myself, though mine is more about legacy mindset/processes than legacy code -- not that there isn't a crapload of that too, but at least the code I feel like I have the ability to fix!

In the past, having "extracurricular"s to focus on outside of work (ultramarathon training, house renovations, etc) helped tremendously, but not so much time for that now with 2 kids under 3...
June 10, 2015 22:28
I get the hell away from software every once in a while. Reading, hiking, playing with my kids and LEGOs, day trips, deliberate unplugging; whatever it takes to get me away from the grind. Helps to disconnect, clear the mind of clutter, especially when you're in a beautiful state like Arizona.

In short, I prevent burnout by going outside.
June 10, 2015 22:39
I work for a clinic and unfortunately I do work on stuff that saves babies. That said, if you are working on stuff that saves babies make sure you are not the only person working on that stuff. If you get hit by a bus, or better yet win the lottery, the business should be able to keep going without you. It is also nice to not have the be the one person that can be called in case of an emergency at 2:00 am.
June 10, 2015 22:49
Most importantly, you can't put too much of your self-esteem in your job. I'm not sure that "work-life balance" is a thing, because it implies they're exclusive of each other and one sucks, but the thing I always find striking is how people think that thing they absolutely must get done can't wait. I can promise you, 99% of the time, that thing you have to do Friday afternoon can wait until Monday. You and the work aren't that important in the greater context of the universe, so go hang out with your kid.

By the way, taking a cruise with no Internet connectivity is fantastic.
June 10, 2015 22:51
Burnout is a very real thing and it sucks. I avoid it as much as possible by having kind of a "work/life integration. Sometimes I do work at home, and sometimes I do personal stuff at work. I only work at a sustainable pace (an occasional crunch time is OK, but never the norm) and I spend lots of time with the family- that's what charges the batteries.

It's really easy to push yourself harder and harder- setting unreasonable deadlines for yourself or your team, throw more people or hours at the problem. But that approach isn't sustainable, IMO- there's a point of diminishing returns. And it can be toxic in an industry where I think communication skills and attitude are arguably more important than programming skills.
June 10, 2015 22:57
I strive to work on projects that I believe in, products or services that are truly good and help people.

Software jobs pay well, which allows my wife to stay at home with our children and me to work reasonable hours so I can spend lots of time with my children. That is a quality of life benefit that helps make what can sometimes be dry programming work fulfilling. It enables my family a good life and me time with them.

We definitely shouldn't take our jobs too seriously though, as most of us are not saving babies or launch nuclear missiles:
June 10, 2015 23:02
Scott, nice reminder to keep some perspective and remember what really matters. As the father of an almost 18-year-old working to pick out his college, I can relate to how quick the time goes by. Ironically, he's interested in studying computer science, so we've also had the life balance discussion together. I'm with previous poster Taki that one great way to keep perspective is to volunteer some of your time -- when you see what others sometimes deal with, it really helps you appreciate what you have.
June 10, 2015 23:04
@Matt Jones, funny to see that you avoid burn out... by going outside to get burned ;) I'm also in AZ and summers here are something else. This spring had a pretty good run though, so can't complain too much
June 10, 2015 23:39
Time management like the pommodoro technique as Scott mentioned keeps things fresh in your head. You get things done, get energy from that and go home not feeling tired.

June 11, 2015 0:18
I can relate to almost everything Eevee wrote, though I'm not quite at the point where I'm ready to leave my day job behind just yet. Playtime for me is way more important than work (it used to be the other way around until I started getting older), but I work so I can afford to go on nice vacations, buy nice things, etc., so it's kind of a catch-22. Balance is key, obviously. I don't spend much of any time outside of work playing with technology. I'd much rather be out on my bike, going for a run, hiking, or taking my dog for a walk (I spend time with my wife during all of those activities, so that part is taken care of). I also indulge my creative side by writing fantasy novels and short stories. That's always a nice break, though it does come with its own set of challenges and expectations.
June 11, 2015 0:19
Thanks Scott.

Being a new parent, this is a subject that has be troubling me of late.

I've always been one to take work home, and think about work all the time.

Now i have a wonderful daughter my priorities are different and I feel like I would be doing myself a disservice to change my work habits.

But work will always be around, my daughter will grow up and every moment with her is precious. You only get 1 chance to see the 1st times she does things and I don't want to miss out on that. Thats the perspective that you have reminded me about.

Thanks again! Chris
June 11, 2015 0:50
I've been a developer for 25+ years. In that time, I haven't saved the world and I'm pretty sure there's hardly a line of code I wrote more than 3 years ago that's still in production. But I got over caring about that long ago.

Work has never meant anything more to me than what I had do to get the the money for what I *really* want to do. I work exactly as hard as necessary to achieve that goal and no harder (in fact, I can't remember the last full 40-hour week I worked. Being an independent contractor is good, I suppose). I make plenty of money, I've got plenty of "stuff" and have a great family life with plenty of time for my kids. If this job ends today, I'll go find another on the way home.

In that same 25+ years, I've watched dozens of my contemporaries completely burn themselves out on 12+ hour days for years or decades on end. If they don't end up the victim of a downsizing or outsourcing, they eventually just end up lost in middle management somewhere, filling out TPS reports to keep the next boss up the line happy. They're miserable, frequently in debt up to their eyes and have no time for their family.

And in the end, they'll end up dead.

Just like me.
June 11, 2015 1:02
I can definitely sympathize with the burnout this guy feels. The usual reasons are there: two young kids I want to spend more time with and not come home exhausted to. But more and more I also feel like the industry itself has some deep-set flaws that I blame. At least that I've seen, no software that is created today is intended to last more than a few years. If you go and bower install allthelatestgoods and build an awesome MEAN stack web app today, it will start to feel old in 6 months. In a year, you won't want to work on it without a major overhaul. In three years, it may not run on modern browsers. Much of my CRUD work is replacing 20-year-old greenscreen apps with "modern responsive web apps". I do my best, but I suspect they will not last another 20 years. As a nerd, I do like the bleeding edge and trying new things, but that lack of permanence- the inability to really build something lasting and meaningful- wears on me eventually.*

How do I check my old-man-get-off-my-lawn mentality? Well, I do work on side projects that in theory will help me retire early and have freedom to work on more meaningful things. I garden, woodwork, play with my kids, read, and go to church. Also, when used responsibly, whiskey and beer help. :)

*You mentioned on a recent podcast how you don't like getting rid of gadgets and that our whole culture is geared toward this disposable mentality. I agree and think what I'm saying about software is a symptom of this.

June 11, 2015 2:08
@Brian Clifton yeah, summers are pretty intense, but not having to deal with snow ever makes up for it.
June 11, 2015 2:16
I've gone the other way. I've done everything from driving dumper trucks to managing a factory. Now I'm a developer and I've never been happier.

I have skills that not everyone does and people seek me out for them, rather than me begging people to give me work. Skills can be a rewarding thing to have but you have to love what you do.

Tech can end up going in the wrong direction but you have to be vigilant against this. Remember why we got into this - to create. You need to keep coming back to this whenever you end up swamped in irrelevant configuration issues and constantly fight to stop these problems from materialising in the first place.
June 11, 2015 2:54
I know exactly how this guy feels, back in 2008 I litterally was on the verge of quiting my career as a developer and opening a hot dog stand (no joke). Luckily for me the financial collapse happened and I was laid off from my job almost immediately.

I went two months without work and finally landed a job at NASA. I've been out at Kennedy Space Center for almost 7 years now and it has truely been a dream job for me, I completely refocused on what I loved (development) and now have a Software Architect title that grants me nearly unlimited freedom in what I want to work on.

Thank god for getting laid off, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I hope the same is true for this guy
June 11, 2015 4:44
I have a three- and five- year old at home and agree completely with Scott's point that we all have to have a reasonable balance between work and home. I'm fortunate to work at a company that (at least in my business group) respects that.
And while I agree with Scott's analogy that since we aren't savings babies, we don't have to work 24-hour shifts to get things done; I think there is an associated mindset: it's just software, it's not like lives depend on it, so we'll fix the bugs later, instead of doing it right the first time. And I think that is a mindset we all have to fight every day in order to turn software engineering into a true professional activity.
June 11, 2015 6:51
damn it, Scott. You would go and post this when I'm working away from my family wouldn't you? That aside, great post!
June 11, 2015 9:38
Is it really the tech industry that has a problem, or the US work-til-you-drop culture?

Here on the other side of the Atlantic, I see friends who work for US subsidiaries going through exactly the same 'mill'. Stupid (sorry) Americans coming here try to impose the same culture of "put your company first or here's the door" and "if you go on vacation you never know if someone will have taken your place when you get back".

I'm so glad to have found a (non-American) company which though sometimes frustratingly inefficient, isn't straining after the kind of 'excellence' which involves micro-management and sucking good people dry until they drop.

That said, we also need to 'check our privilege'. Going outside is a 'hobby' for us, because we can choose when we go. Bad weather, cold weather, hot weather, if we don't like it we can avoid it. And generally our 'horrible job which sucks' does at least pay the bills and some toys too.
June 11, 2015 10:00
Kids are far more complex than programming. When a program results in the same output no matter what the input, you can usually find the problem easily, and solve it. But what do you do when the answer to almost any question you ask a kid is one word or less? And debugging is futile, as they pretty quickly put up a firewall and lock you out altogether. I'm pretty sure this is why many dad's get to 50yo and scratch their heads at why they didn't talk to their kids for the last 15 years.

The current hack I'm using is to start off talking about something they really want to talk about, and just get them talking. At this point, you can weave in your questions or points, and they often get answered in detail. There is a level of pain in the setup, but it's pretty rewarding once you are in.
June 11, 2015 10:48
I stay passionate by polishing and enhancing again and again the software I am working on for more than a decade. Because the state reached today was like science-fiction I imagined 3 years ago, and it was very challenging to develop it. And what I imagine today will be a reality in 2 or 3 years and it'll be tons of challenges to solve. And having thousands of happy real-world users sending spontaneous "keep up the good work" emails and cool feature demand, this really helps staying passionate.

Despite 1 week vacation-per-year for the last two years and significant life event meantime (twins birth and both parent loss, all at the same time + move to another continent after), I avoid burn-out because I am surrounded by love of wife and twins babies, because I am practicing morning mind-awareness meditation and jogging, because I am careful respecting 8 hours sleep and at least 3 hours spent with babies per day + no work during the weekend, and because I have specific and timed goals, for tomorrow, for next month, for next year and for next decade. Hopefully I plan more vacations for the next months to come.

"Then I passed the midpoint and saw the end of my freedom looming on the horizon. " excerpt from "I quit the tech industry"

The key for me is to always feel free. I never see the work planned for today as a burden, because I have no boss I just planned the work myself. And if a friend invite me for early morning dive, a swim with dolphins, a trail or a beer, I try to be more productive to release a few hours of my work schedule to say yes. I also done already many of the things that were in my bucket-list. There are still tons, I'll do with kids when they'll be old enough. But having all theses experiences done already, knowing there are plenty I'll do, this really helps never feel like "end of my freedom looming on the horizon".

June 11, 2015 12:40
I love that quote that you provided and it resonates alot with me at the moment as I've just had a daughter recently.

It's obviously not my place to question what motivates someone or what should make them happy. However when I read eevee's blog it really reminded me of some people I know who essentially live and breath "tech". They wake up at 5 and immediately hit the tech blogs or write an article. Then into work for 10 - 12 hours worth of programming and then straight home for some more programming. Then they wonder why they feel stressed or are burning out.

It's absolutely possible that this is the path to a happy and fulfilled life for these people. I used to be very much like this though probably not to the same extent as eevee given the number of plates she seems to be spinning.

I worry about these people now. I worry that they'll reach the age of 85 and the only thing anyone will be able to say about them at their funeral is that they were "really good at computers" and that they "worked hard". In other words not really much to show for 85 years of life.

June 11, 2015 15:46
Proof from my friend and former coworker, Dave Baskin, that software is about saving babies.

Bouncing Babies
June 11, 2015 16:37
I stopped pursuing "being successful" and focused on just doing what I can. If it cannot be done by tomorrow, it just cannot be, and I, or my family, are not going to lose sleep over it.

Having said that, the exhausting part of software development is not code, but people. I just fight less battles now. Most things are not worth it, and in the team I am in, nearly everything is a matter of "personal preference" instead of "best practice." It was frustrating at first, but now, it's fine. It keeps the politics out and just gets stuff done.

Being professional goes a long way in saving yourself from a burnout.

June 11, 2015 19:04
"...if something isn't working, why keep doing it?"

As others have pointed out, this is a great idea if you're financially able, otherwise you're stuck. Often for life. I know money doesn't buy happiness, but it buys peace of mind and options that can lead to happiness.

"How do you avoid burnout? How do you stay passionate?"

I wish I knew! I seem to have lost all passion and interest. Sometimes I think, I should watch more TV or play more games, but I just feel like I'm wasting time. I just provide for my kids the best I can (thanks for the Pines quote btw), but I seem to do nothing for myself. Looking forward to reading what others do for this!
June 11, 2015 20:35
A tech perspective that could only come from Scott.

Great post!
June 11, 2015 20:55
I've been in the industry for 30 years now and although I still enjoy it I've always known that it isn't the end. It's the means to allow me to express myself and to raise & nurture my family. I was once asked what two inventions I was most proud of...and the first that came to my mind were my children.
June 11, 2015 21:16
To avoid burnout and staying happy in whatever you do - The one thing I learnt was to be able to say NO to people and say to yourself that you CAN'T please everyone.
June 11, 2015 22:10
A co-worker of mine unplugged and is travelling the country with his family. He's so happy and seem younger! His blog can be read at
June 11, 2015 22:29
One thing to stay happy is not to try to get into some career track where other people plan where they want to see you in a few years. Instead I keep my freedom to do interesting things which are interesting for others as well.
A loving wife and two kids really help to get a different perspective than computers. Physical activity like Badminton or collecting crystals in the mountains are also very mind and body refreshing activities. All in all I am not stressed out at all. It might also help to have a higher level of Bilirubin than most others which seems to harden me against stress by nature.
June 12, 2015 2:20
  • Q.) How do you avoid burnout?
    A.) I like to take a fancy vacation. Preferably overseas, in a non-English speaking country. Or, I will ultimately find a better job situation that can make me less unhappy.

  • Q.) How do you stay passionate? A.) Practice. Practice makes perfect. Trial and error. You win some, you lose some. It's the thirst for perfection that drives me. It's like any great sushi chef in Japan, whom strives for complete excellence in everything they do, every day of their lives. We must always strive to do better and to help each other out. As long as I feel I am helping society, and solving puzzles along the way, I will always have the passion to develop useful computer software.

    Automation also keeps me passionate. When I learn a new trick, or even a "hack" that saves me significant effort, it makes me want to apply it in other arenas and domains or to share it with friends. Automation keeps me thirsting for more ways to skin a cat. That's just me though. I look forward to Windows 10 and Windows RT and open source Visual Studio .NET. When the playing field changes, the ball game gets better. I think 2015 is a great time to be a software developer, as the tools have really become more useful and powerful. I look forward to tomorrow.
  • June 12, 2015 2:51
    I haven't been burn as bad, but after 4 years on my first job, I moved job to be a consultant, basically a management job.

    I was bored, and the way the company deal with development wasn't great, so I was stalled (though the first couple of years I learnt a lot). I was frustrated with development and programming...

    I worked on the new place for a year and a half, and didn't really worked well. I changed path again, starting my own business, a comic-book shop. This time, it wasn't related to tech at all, as you can imagine.
    It didn't work either, I had to close it after a couple of years.

    Being an engineer, I went back to developing, and I went back with a passion. Everything make much more sense than the first time, and the other jobs. I had bad days, but I was way more on my element. Since then, I am a quite passionate developer, with bad days, but knowing what I want to do...

    So, the answer would be something like "I realise how much better and comfortable I feel developing software compared with everything else" X-D
    June 12, 2015 5:44
    Thank you, Scott. Just this evening we had to tell our two foster sons that they would be moving to a new home in just a couple weeks, one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. During the day I am a lead dev under a lot of pressure to deliver, and I was just sitting down to get some work done instead of doing as you suggest and spending these last moments with my boys.

    I'm going to get up now to help them with their bath and tuck them in.

    June 12, 2015 7:23
    Great post Scott.
    June 12, 2015 8:55
    We are enormously lucky in this industry. Not many people in the world enjoy the luxury of moving on when they get bored or unhappy with their job. 0% unemployment is a rare blessing that should be appreciated for the temporary phenomenon that it is.
    June 12, 2015 14:57
    Work/Life balance is definitely something that you need to get right.
    My escape from the world of work is mountain biking - just so much fun (and, in a perverse way, relaxation) to be had from blasting up and down hills, through the forest, and over rivers with your friends.

    P.S. Can I just point out the following...
    LEGO is a brand name of a company
    There is only one
    You cannot pluralise it
    The little bits of plastic made by LEGO are (for the most part) referred to as bricks
    You either play with LEGO, or you play with LEGO bricks
    Just as you play with sand or you play with sand grains
    June 12, 2015 15:09
    I contract so tend to move companies more frequently than a permy, which can cause a different sort of burnout. However, you meet new people and get to do different things.

    That said, sometimes you go in and find they're doing things how you did stuff 5, 10 years ago. That can be hard - e.g. "what are these sql strings you are building up here to execute?". Come on people, learn and update and improve.

    To really kick back, have children. They'll suck the life and energy out of you but put work into perspective.

    Oh, and keep on learning, training, exploring.

    June 12, 2015 15:10
    Good article, sometimes you need to step back and examine if you have your life choices balanced. Going for a walk can be enough, less coffee more water. Being protective of your weekends and evening. Taking your vacation. I have a guitar just need to find time to learn it. Inviting people round for a bbq or party. Running events on meetup ( social events to meet people, we recently moved into area - or running a workshop to help others for Shy-London )
    June 12, 2015 15:29
    <repentantpedant> (repedant?)

    I thought about the LEGO thing a little bit more, and I suppose it's only the same as saying "We drove our BMWs" or "We were both wearing our Nikes"

    Still seems strange to my (non-American) ears/eye - but then I do spell my surname with a 'u' ;)

    June 12, 2015 16:39
    I have five sons. When the oldest was thirteen, I started a tech related business they could participate in and consume the product.

    Saw them and their friends everyday and involved them in the business.

    Didn't make much money at it, but the time I invested in them has paid off very well.

    Only one ended up in software.
    June 14, 2015 4:58
    I avoid burnout by remembering the exact phrase you quoted. My wife has said this for years, both of us being in the tech industry.

    We remember that we work to live, not the other way around. There are times work requires extra hours, travel, and more, but we balance that out. We try to provide a good work role model for our kids, but also a good "enjoy life" model.

    I'm working today, mostly because I spent yesterday (Friday), watching my daughter play volleyball all day. I'm fortunate that I'm able to flex my work hours and time, and I take advantage of that to spend time with my family and hobbies when I'm able.
    June 14, 2015 11:23
    I think that I'm able to flex my work hours and time and so I take advantage of that to spend time with my family. I am a lead dev under a lot of pressure to deliver. Now I am working on for more than a decade
    June 15, 2015 21:35
    Even in an industry where we DO save babies in a roundabout way (we support a biorepository for cancer research), it's possible to breathe here, too.

    I've been blessed enough to "manage my supervisor" into a position where I go to work, play with cool toys, and every so often something useful pops out.

    Work doesn't define me, though. There are days work follows me home like a lost puppy, and yes there are the odd off-hours calls, but I look at that as part of the IT game and it doesn't happen often. I've had jobs in other fields where I was fairly successful, but weren't really my passion. So I went and found something that was and had to work a long time to get where I am now, sometimes in positions where I was less than enthusiastic. A job is always interesting when I'm learning. When I stop learning, I need a change and I go looking for it. Financially it can be a challenge, but my health - mental or otherwise - isn't worth a paycheck from a specific company.
    June 17, 2015 2:16
    I'm no Brian Harry, but I started raising chickens. Just 3 of them. Enough that we will (eventually, they're only a few months old) get a dozen or so fresh eggs a week and hours of entertainment. When I get stressed out about dumb stuff at work that really doesn't matter at the end of the day, I let the chickens out in the yard, throw them some seed, and watch them frolic. Keeps the burnout at bay for sure.

    I stay passionate by being really involved with my local tech community - helping organize tech conferences (the super cheap or free kind), running a user group, and participating in programs like WIT and DigiGirlz. I get exposed to exciting new stuff, I get to meet awesome people and geek out about nerd stuff, and in some cases actually make a difference in someone's life. That's what makes me really love what I do.
    June 17, 2015 6:18
    I'd comment but I need to go play with my son. Time for a bike race.
    June 25, 2015 7:02
    I'm not going to attempt to rewrite an entire book that answers both the questions of avoiding burnout and remaining passionate. However, I want to highlight the major point that the book makes about autonomy, mastery, and purpose. If you find enough autonomy to choose what you work on and when, you'r highly unlikely to face a burnout situation. If you find a position that gives you the opportunity to learn how to do your job better, that's how you can stay passionate about the role. And, both of those roll up together into having a personal mission statement, and making sure it aligns with whatever job you're doing.

    My summary is awful. Go read the book instead, it's way better: Team Geek on Amazon
    June 26, 2015 9:27
    Got teary-eyed reading that quote. I am so guilty of being a workaholic and spending lesser time with my son. Will have to change my ways because he grows up so fast.
    June 30, 2015 14:55
    Really enjoyed the posts here.

    I'm back in a job after 5 years of working at home - mix of freelancing and working for company.
    After persistent problems getting paid, I decided to pack it in. Don't ever take for granted just getting paid consistently. As other posters have said, we are lucky not to have to hustle for work, unless we like doing. There is a certain enjoyment in actually hustling for a living, I will admit, but it's also very stressful if you have bills and things aren't going well.

    The human condition is to get bored with what we have and want more. For now, 4 months into the new job, I'm happy back working with people in an office, instead of in my shed. I'm sure it will change when I get worn out in the winter time.

    If you do hate your job, then you can quit. I stayed in a job I hated for the last few years of a 9 year stint. I was made redundant so was forced out eventually. I'm thankful for it now. You will get another job in this industry, once you apply yourself. You can survive on a lot less. My income dropped by 2/3 and I still was ok. You just cut every excess for that period of time. You learn to appreciate everything you take for granted, like food, clothes etc. Sometimes you just need to pare everthing back to the essentials, to appreciate the non-essentials.

    Comments are closed.

    Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.