I’ve noted a couple times this year that one of my goals for 2017 was a new role in my career. I have news on that front. Kind of. It isn’t as simple an answer as laying out a new role, it is more of the first steps on a new path…
- First — my wrist problems that were causing me to be unable to perform well as a coder are corrected. Short end to a long, drawn out painful episode. It is now over and I can code all day without pain.
- Second — The discussions with my work about getting a new role because of the aforementioned inability to code are over. The decision came down to keep me where I am. Of course, because that decision came down after 6+ months of talking about a new role, and BEFORE I told them that my wrist was corrected, it was a huge breach of trust, so I’m pretty much done with being an “engaged employee” at my job.
- Third — Despite not caring about my job anymore, I do still have a work ethic, and I can perform my job appropriately. It does bring in the paychecks. And I know this tech and this codebase. I can write a book about the problems with this job, but I know it, and despite the events of 2017, there is good history prior to 2017, so if I stay here despite the problems, it gives me an opportunity to slowly set myself up to do something completely different. And it gives them a chance to fix problems. If they want to.
So the question I have to ask myself is the same question I have asked multiple friends who have found themselves laid off, as an older tech worker, not quite sure what their next move in life should be. There are certainly tech jobs around. But… my post from a while back explains why just going out and getting a job isn’t an exciting answer. So the question is a cliche, but… where do I want to be in 5 years? I don’t mean in a narrow sense of what job do I want to be in, but as someone with a large chunk of life behind me, and also hopefully ahead of me, and a family partly raised, but also with a ways to go… in 5 years, what do I want that family and career life to look like, if I could really draw my ideal life?
I’ve been thinking about that question ever since that start of this year, and if I throw out all preconceived notions, and really look at what I love to do… what activities have I truly enjoyed during my life, what do I still love, what do I want to share with my family, and how could I make a living doing those things? And I have answers to those questions which lead me down a path that is not going to be simple and easy, and might not be as lucrative as a software engineering job, but might make a happier and healthier life for me and my family in the long run.
Lets start with what activities I have truly enjoyed — hiking, exploring, spending time with friends/family, and making things. That is really it. Nothing else I have done really matters to me. I couldn’t care less about any software I have written or career accomplishments, but the artwork I’ve done means something to me, the mountains I have climbed are great memories, and my time with the people in my life matters to me.
So I want to continue those things. Get out in the world, explore it, make things, and spend time with people. And believe it or not, the last few years of exploring Utah may have opened up a way for us to do that. Because I’ve recently started to explore rock carving. I’ve always loved sculpture, but never had the time, space, or energy to really build out a sculpture studio. I’ve wanted to for most of my adult life, but just never did. Now that I am carving rocks, I am realizing that maybe this small-scale sculptural medium is the answer to everything… I can explore the Rockies and deserts to collect material, and bring my family with me. I can carve that material into new objects, and sell them. There are trade shows all over to buy other materials for carving, or to sell my finished works. And I can make jewelry and other such things from the scraps of the materials that I don’t using in my carvings. And in my travels to shows and exploring for new materials, I can visit friends and family, and we can do road trips with my own family.
Now, clearly drawing that picture in my mind and making it happen in real life with enough success to support the family are two different things. But that is why I am still working my job. In short, if they want me to sit and write code for them for a couple years until the VC firm at the top of all this flips us, fine. They get their code, I get paychecks while I level up my carving skills and work on building up a non-tech business as a small-scale carver/sculptor.
This is my plan. I don’t know if it will succeed. If we have another round of layoffs at my job, maybe I’ll have to get another job which won’t give me the flexibility to do this, or maybe I just won’t be good enough, or maybe I won’t find buyers… anything can go wrong. But I definitely won’t get to that ideal vision if I do not try. So, I’m going to let my employer fund my efforts to change my career path. And hopefully in a year or so, it will end up working out well for everyone involved, and we all go our own ways, happy for the end result…