Software and Saving Babies
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!
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