Notes to self

Not gold alone brought us hither

Break

After 24 years of working at various jobs, I bid goodbye to by colleagues and began the first full time break of my career. This was not easy, especially because once I announced my decision about a month ago, my team and my colleagues made me feel very special. But this day had to come, and now I am no longer employed and intend to stay this way until I fix a few things. As an engineer, I am trained to spot slow moving disasters in their early stages and that allows me to take my own sweet time to engineer and implement a fix before a lot of damage is done. Spotting issues early allows me to take aim and have a shot at a solution.

The slow moving disasters that I talked about are:

  1. Degrading physical fitness
  2. Lack of quality time with family
  3. Lack of creative satisfaction

Let me explain.

My last job as a software development manager was to manage a devops team of very smart software development engineers that built and maintained customer facing services. While I had fun getting involved in solving interesting problems, the always-on nature of a devops manager role started to take its toll. Due to this constant low level stress, my otherwise healthy lifestyle started to degrade. It started with me missing one or two running and gym sessions every week, and eventually, by the end of last year I stopped exercising. To make matters worse, I started eating unhealthy. Everybody around me was eating unhealthy too (but hey, most of them are half my age) and it took me a while to notice this unhealthy change. In the last 1.5 years, I put on 8 kg and I think health and fitness is too high a cost to pay for any career gain. I need to get back in shape.

At the end of each day, I want to spend time with my family. The fact is, the end of the day brings with it a flurry of activity as my US colleagues wake up, start their day, and emails start pouring in. Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying it is their fault. They too end up going through the same at the end of their day. As a result when its time to go to bed, instead of being relaxed and prepared for a sound sleep, my adrenaline is peaking and it affects the quality of my sleep. And there are late evening calls. There have been times when the kids want to talk to me but I am on a call and have to ask them to leave the room. Children (not just mine, but of so many others in this industry) are conditioned to shut up when they hear “papa is on a call”. I do not want to do this to my kids any more.

Last, but not the least, I found myself caught up in so much paper work and processes that it started to defeat the reason I joined this industry. I love solving problems and I love developing software, but I found myself doing less of it. There must be a way for a middle aged software professional to find joy in this profession. I will need to figure this out.

In this post, I talk about the problems. Tomorrow, a new day will begin and I will start working on solutions. Now I have time on my hands to figure out the next steps. I am looking forward to solving these problems because, after all, I love solving problems.