It's a marathon. Not a sprint.
It become quite challenging for me to find someone who did not experience burnout recently. Studies show that the most affected industries in the US are hospitality, manufacturing, and health care.
I could argue that the software industry is somewhere close.
People are wandering around, changing companies, getting divorced, going to psycho-therapy, fighting anxiety... All kinds of stuff.
Most of us do not realize what is going on until there is an obvious sign. Your body decides for you, or someone else tells you how fucked up you become.
I figured it comes with age and years spent working in the industry. Most people I talk with are in their mid-'30s or early '40s. Although my observation is biased, it perfectly falls into statistics.
"Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) are most prone to burnout.
Gen-Z (born between 1997 and 2012) is a generation with the fastest growing burnout rate."
This makes sense. '20s are hard. The '30s are a bit harder.
So what a hell is going on?
My wife, who isn't in the software, tried to provide her point of view - "the biggest problem with you (software people) is that you can always work."
This got me thinking. Is it that we CAN work always, or do we CHOOSE to work always?
The drive that you get by working and solving problems is pushing you. Dopamine hits. It's comfortable. We push each other. We all like it, and we don't mind long hours. Chatting about it until we go to sleep. It's a crowd behavior. I think we CHOOSE that.
But it's a hustle culture that you're served with.
Hey, you young person, everyone's expecting you to work more than 8h today, on weekends, remoting from vacation (just in case carying laptop wink-wink), but also be a solopreneur, and have a successful side gig. And a popular YouTube channel.
It's just too much work in an unbalanced way. When not working, we're thinking about it. When thinking about it we're distracted. People around you are uncomfortable when you're distracted.
Intensity doesn't work well for us in the long term. We've seen what happens to people being stressed for decades. It just doesn't work well eventually.
We should be available for our family and be there for our kids. Thinking about yourself and longevity.
Most of this generation have some 25-30 years to retirement. We can't keep such intensity of work forever. And there has to be a change.
Ask yourself - how do you wanna turn up to your family and friends tomorrow? Do you wanna have family and friends that you can turn up to in the first place?
I don't wanna be a distracted and busy, stressed person forever. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Nothing is ever finished. There are always new things to do, and it never ends.
With that in mind, we should optimize toward what's a steady pace.
Continually sprinting across the week -> having time with doing nothing -> recharge -> repeat.
That's not sustainable.
A change in relationship to work is necessary.
Work is part of life. Enjoying work is important. It should make us happy, build cool stuff, help others, being part of the community.
Yet, work is only part of life. Shrink that part down on a pie chart, to an important, but manageable part. Ironically you'll be even better at it.
It seems that managing energy instead of time provides good results.
Thinking in outputs throughout the week - instead of being obsessed to fill up every empty slot in our calendar with something "efficient".
Finding a steady pace - optimizing for the long term. That's important.
It's a constant battle though, and I would like to hear from you, about your approach, techniques, or anything that helps you manage your energy (and time).