Several matches, one starting to catch fire, two smoking, one burnt to cinders, two unlit

4/10/2022: Diary of a Burnout, Part III

This is part 3 of a series on what has led to what I feel is career burnout. You can read parts I & II here and here.

In the last installment, I talked about how I felt like I got a shot at my dream job, and then it didn’t go well. I also let Resistance beat me at every turn. I didn’t complete or even come close to completing any project I started. This meant I didn’t have any game development experience from side projects. Going back to where things seemed so good seemed like a good idea. However, you can’t relive history.

In the 16 months since I left the first job, the team shrunk down to two. Everyone else was reassigned to different projects. I ended up on a web project (I had no website development experience), which was okay. Leadership managed it well and the team was small and competent. But, another project ran over time on its earlier milestones and was in danger of completely running over budget. Naturally, management remedied this by throwing more bodies onto it, one of them being me.

From the outset, I saw things weren’t right. Despite the rush to get things out the door, no one had work to do. Because no one knew what to build. Requirements kept changing. This was my first death march project. I’ll leave the explanation of the concept as homework for the reader.

To give an idea of the chaos of the project: management hired a contractor, someone who worked for the company before, to give the team a boost and could hit the ground running. Management assigned him and I a project to work on that we estimated at two weeks. Someone stayed up for 48 hours over a weekend and did the work the contractor and I were supposed to do.

This sounds great on the surface, but this particular person used work to avoid going home and dealing with the divorce he was going through. He burned himself out repeatedly with these kinds of heroics, all for naught since requirements kept changing. This guy would work crazy hours while most of us had no work for weeks at one point. Reckoning came eventually. Leadership on the project changed. And the company fired the VP of Marketing who misled the customer during the sales process.

I eventually asked for and was given, a transfer to another team in a subsidiary company that resided in the same building. It was similar work but less chaotic and better managed. However, my commute took over an hour, and my wife was pregnant. So I decided to take a job closer to home to be close by when the baby came.

All of this occurred over a period of about 15 months from the time I joined to the time I left again. For those keeping score at home, that’s three job changes in less than five years. It’s generally common to change jobs with relative frequency in IT. But you’ll soon see that I really pushed it throughout my career. However, that’s a story for another day.

If you like what you’ve read, please let me know. I would also appreciate you sharing it with your people (or very smart pets). Also, how do you handle burnout? I could use the help. If you want to make sure you don’t miss these, subscribe to my newsletter below. Or subscribe to my social networks. Thanks for reading!

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