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How To Avoid Burnout?5 min read

Here are 5 reasons to reevaluate your career path on time (before dissatisfaction makes you physically ill).

Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash

I’ve spent years programming full-time… Jira board and user stories were typical way how my days start and end.

Besides a few social interactions about the feature requirements, most of the days would be a sort of “radio silence”.

(Yes, I was working 100% remotely.)

Next to my full-time position as a Principal IT Engineer (Consultant), I had a few side projects as well.

(So I was coding 12 hours a day.)

Then something happened…

My life started taking a downward spiral unexpectedly…

My relationship with my back-then girlfriend fell apart, there was a death in my family, and I started growing dissatisfied with almost everything around me…

(I was making crazy amounts of money in programming; having financial success only few in this occupation reach…)

Regardless of all the success, something was lacking… And I could not pinpoint what exactly.

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Want to become an IT engineer but confused about where to start?

A few years later, I realized precisely what happened (and how to avoid it)…

In my case, I “overdid it” and turned into a human robot that took productivity as the main goal in life (ignoring other crucial components of a fulfilled life)…

(How wrong I was…)

Here are some of the signals telling me that something was off.

And you better watch carefully for these as it might be time to change something…

Perhaps take a break from programming for some time or completely shift to a non-coding job (with more human interactions).

Just don’t tolerate these signals too long (I started getting physical symptoms due to this prolonged torture of myself —read more below…)

#1 Lack of motivation

How do you feel when you go to sleep on Sundays? Are you already contemplating Monday’s work agenda with a dose of negativity?

Do you prolong starting work on the next Jira ticket until the last minute? (Absence of motivation.)

These are all signs that you are growing dissatisfied and losing motivation rapidly.

(When I look with these eyes, I should have recognized this much sooner…)

#2 Constant Frustration

What makes programming jobs hard is the people around (and not the programming tasks themselves; programming is actually easy to learn).

Learn From a $140k/y Engineer: Full Path To A Well-Paid Tech Career For Beginners
Want to become an IT engineer but confused about where to start?

If you work at a bigger organization there is always at least 1 out of 10 people who spread negative energy and toxicity around (so-called emotional vampires).

If you are unlucky enough, this person gets to be your direct colleague (or even worse your boss; or even worse be your client you cannot say NO to).

Engineering jobs are full of toxic cultures where people never admit mistakes… (A lot of money is at stake and sometimes people’s positions and entire careers are on the line.)

So it’s very easy to get frustrated with the working environment where you deliver excellent work while everyone is stepping on each other toes (and playing politics).

#3 Glass Ceiling

Most IT Engineers grow their careers up to the senior level… That’s where things start dragging…

You are already making a bunch of money and are at the peak of your productivity…

Changing the company would not do any better since you get a very similar salary/conditions…

Soon after, you start feeling stuck, hitting the glass ceiling.

When I came to this point I decided to do a complete career shift. Ditched full-time programming and shifted towards software architecture and technical management.

(I still have several programming side-projects… I genuinely love it but I don’t want to do programming full-time at big corporates any longer— been there, done that.)

#4 Deteriorating Health

After some time, I started getting acid reflux and bloating no matter what I ate (I lost weight as well)… All that with stabbing pain in my stomach every now and then…

Doctor check-ups were all good and no one actually knew what was wrong.

It turned out that stress was the major contributor (although I got a diet that helped a lot as well — no gluten, no dairy products).

If you get physical symptoms of a “mysterious illness” no one can explain, it’s likely you too need to change something in your life.

It can be either your work or relationships with others (partner, family).

#5 Life Priorities

couldn’t hope in my wildest dreams that I would be this successful (and I just turned 30).

Only at this point, I understand that financial success is just one part of the puzzle…

Yes, it gives assurance…

And you don’t have as many headaches as others do but it means literally nothing if your life is not balanced well. (Think here of your partner, friends, and family.)

I decided to shift my life priorities towards soft skills and meet more people, visit places, and make more friends.

I am also a better partner in the relationship now (you get to take only what you give).

Final Thoughts

No matter how good you are at programming (or at any other occupation), it’s good to reevaluate your position at times.

Especially if you have been feeling stuck for some time.

(And no, a huge paycheck at the end of the month is not an excuse.)

Here I shared my personal story of how I left behind a full-time programming position of $100k+ a year.

And I have zero regrets…

(It turns out I am doing even better career-wise now while being happier at the same time.)

If you too feel stuck for a prolonged time, take a pause immediately and spend time thinking of what it is — your gut will tell…

Then by all means make the change (you already know what needs to change, you only lack courage).

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By Igor Jovanovic

Founder & Full Stack Tech Consultant

Experienced tech professional with a strong track record in web services and fintech. Collaborating with Silicon Valley's multi-billion tech giants and offering a range of services committed to excellence. Check the Services page for how I can help you too.

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