The Painful Joys of Change

There are times when you skate through life, not necessarily happy, but in enough of a routine that you feel like things are good. You’ve got problems, but those problems are a general noise in your background, and you move forward, unaware of or unwilling to confront the issue that lie in front of you. Eventually, however, things become unworkable. You have to throw out old plans and start over. It is a disconcerting process, but it does have the fortunate side effect of reminding you of what you care about, and what you still want to do.

About two years ago, I came to the realization that there was no path forward in my job. I was not going to be promoted, and more importantly, I was not going to be doing the work I wanted to be doing. This was not a disaster. My job was not terrible. I was well-paid, and I liked my team members. I also had some nice perks, like the ability to work from home. I gave the problem some thought and decided I could live with it.

As time passed I realized that something was going to have to change. Change is hard though, and the status quo is easy, even when it is unpleasant. There were moments when I still enjoyed my job, but they were fading, and the dissatisfaction was growing. Meanwhile, the good things started to fade. The team, which had been great to work with, started to fall apart. I could write ten posts just on how this happened, but the point is that going nowhere on a good team is much better than going nowhere on a team that is disintegrating.

I also began to realize that, as appealing as working from home could be, after several years of it, working out of an office was sounding better and better. My hours were getting longer and longer, and I was leaving the house less and less while gaining more and more weight. it was no longer better to stay than to leave. Still, I tried. I tried discussing it with my team. I tried discussing it with my boss. I tried discussing it with his boss. I left very few stones unturned while trying to find a way to stay, because change is hard.

In the end though, it was inevitable. Once our lead programmer left the company at a dead run, I knew my days were numbered. I mined my LinkedIn connections. I shored up my portfolio. I rewrote my resume, and I applied for jobs. In the end, I got lucky. I found a place that was looking for someone to do exactly what I wanted to be doing. I gave up working from home to work with people in an office again, and it has been great so far.
Still, nothing ever goes painlessly. Leaving my old job was rough. I’d been there seven years and was personally invested in the work I had done there. I knew that much of what I had accomplished would be rolled back once I left, and that there were people who depended on me to do my job. I also knew the company would be in no hurry to replace me (they are under a near perpetual hiring freeze).

The good thing about all of this though, is that I did make a change and I am once again in a job that feels suited to me. Familiar patterns have been replaced by a learning curve. The adventure continues…