Software Developer Burnout... I suffered it.

May 15, 2017

Developer Burnout

Note: I wrote this originally in May of 2017. I never published it because I was so burnt out even the thought of pushing the damn file to the server was too much. It’s a single command. It’s January of 2018 now, I’m still here and still burnt. I’ll talk more to that below.

Software developer burnout is a real thing and it’s bad. I had always heard about it and even witnessed others go through it but I had never really experienced myself. As such I was overly quick to dismiss it or give it lip service without really considering the true ramifications or impact of the event.

I have been a software developer for over 20 years. No kidding, a long time to be sure. And I have some how managed to avoid burnout until last year. I’m sure every industry has some version of developer burnout but with folks in software it’s extremely bad, and it takes months if not years to come back.. if they ever do. It’s taken me months to even consider it…

I may not go back. Honestly at this point I’m looking forward to law enforcement again, but that’s a different story.

Anyone can burn out. From a high end CEO, to a software developer, to a person that digs ditches every day. Burnout seems to happen when someone does a thing over and over for long periods of time without getting any real joy out of it. Or without having a sense of accomplishment. This is what happened to me.

And I didn’t even realize it until it was too late!

I worked for years for one company or another developing software large and small. I liked it. I really enjoyed being an individual contributor that went to work every day creating something that people would use.

I’ll be the first to admit I stayed way too long at IBM, and that by the 6th year mark I was thoroughly done but that was a management issue. Not the job. I still loved the job. (People quit managers, not jobs.. keep that in mind, to that end I still feel bad about yelling at John the way I did.. Where ever you are John, I’m still very regreful and I hope you can one day forgive me for being an idiot.)

That all kinda changed about mid way through my life at Grok.

Grok Interactive is a small services company that I started with a friend from a previous company and it went really well. (The company is still going strong, I’m just not there any more for my own sanity reasons =)

I just got to the point where I really didn’t enjoy any aspect of the work and I needed out. Eventually that out came and I ran for the hills!

Continued 8 months later!

whoa.. I forgot I had started this post. I was actually going to bring up my blog and type this post when I saw it in my queue of stuff to publish.. yes.. yes and double yes.. all of the above is still true. I’m still crispy about software and at this point my knowledge has almost completely perished. I have a lot of code I could go back and look at and I’m sure I could bring myself back up to speed but it would have to be on my own terms. I think my days of working for other software firms as a paid employee in any capacity is over.

Right now I’m working as a Deputy Sheriff for a small county here in North Georgia and I’m enjoying it for the most part. I still dream about doing stuff in the software field though. I think of problems and dream up solutions. I have a couple back burner thoughts that I might try to field test too.

I will be updating my blog again going forward and I’m playing with some othe software projects too again.. so maybe there’s still hope.

Legacy Comments

Neece Tinsley

  I understand where you are coming from. I left full time software development 3 years ago due to burnout. I am doing a few part time things and going back to school but I can never see myself working on a software development team again.