Yesterday I left my job of two years. My last scheduled day was on Friday the 13th, which was nice. The universe has a sense of humor.
I had started this job as a junior developer. I didn’t know how to test properly, I didn’t understand what problem our main product solved, and I didn’t know the programming language it was written in. My company was absorbed by it’s parent organisation in the first month, and half of my team quit two months later. For the next year, I didn’t know who my leader was, or even if I really had one. At the time, although I wouldn’t have admitted it, I was an emotional wreck.
By the time I had left, I was leaving behind a team where I had interviewed half of the people. I was generally respected and liked (for the most part). I had given some time back to the community. By most metrics, my time there was a success.
So why did I leave?
Stress can do some awful things. What I hate the most, is the continuous sense of urgency. It’s not the pace, that part is exciting. The worst part is the distraction. When everything is important, or critical, or valuable, you lose perspective. You eat worse, exercise rarely, forget birthdays, miss funerals. You lose sight of the Purpose. It took a long time for me to recognise that I had lost sight of the Purpose for what I do. Why I like making things and solving problems. Why the best days are ones where I play with new things and see people’s lives improve.
Dan Pink talks about Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. Over time, while I had gained confidence, I had lost the ability to forge ahead in my current role. While I could feel that these things were missing, I couldn’t handle jumping ship while my friends were still on board. Desertion felt like betrayal, however, ironically, by staying I was betraying myself.
A month or so ago, I was speaking to a friend, and was expressing my unhappiness. She mentioned someone at her work that was having similar feelings. For years now, this person had been speaking to others about their unhappiness at work. I didn’t want to be that person.
Sometimes I forget that every element of my own life is my personal responsibility. Things happen to people, but people are not the things that happen to them. They are the choices they make, and actions they take in the face of these happenings. Yesterday I took responsibility.