After 16 years at my current employer, I'm finally moving on. I gave notice last week.
Long term, I am making a career change to a different technology sector. In recent years I've been increasingly interested in energy technologies, in particular because I truly think they are going to change the world. I've decided it's time to put up or shut up, and fortunately I've been saving money for a very long time so I can afford to take this chance.
Medium term, I will be spending the next couple months working on some long-delayed personal projects, while I also reach out to some folks in my newly target tech sector.
Over the past year I've found that I'm just not capable of getting those personal things done on my own time. I work too hard at the day job -- I can't help myself, it seems, from continuously working on the next thing and never carving out time for any personal stuff, even just 30 minutes or so. And at home I tend to either focus on shorter term tasks (i.e. fixing some broken thing, paying the bills) or simply vegging out. So I've decided that the only way I'm going to make progress on these things is to quit my day job.
I actually did this once before, in 2001, and back then it took me longer than expected to get the next job. As a result, I swore that I wouldn't do that again, and for the past two years I've been quietly looking for the next thing will continuing at my current job. But in the last few months I've come to the realization that I don't make enough time for non-work efforts like finding a new job or even just home projects. If I slid from my current job directly into the next one, all those personal projects would continue to languish. And of a lot of those projects are quality-of-life things that I've been trying to get done for literally 3-4 years.
So while I do have very specific ideas for my next career move, I haven't been putting enough effort into making those ideas a reality. And I've decided that I need to clear out my workday to make that happen.
Of course, there are things that are pushing me out of my current job from the inside. I see a lot of corporate dysfunction, which you probably would eventually see anywhere, if you worked somewhere long enough. And I will probably encounter it again at my next job, but I plan for my next job to be closer aligned with my personal interests, and so I think I'll be willing to tolerate it more. Certainly, when starting over at a new place, you start with a clean slate and simply aren't aware of the dysfunction lurking beneath the surface. And since I expect my next job will be a much smaller company (one focused on the cleantech sector), at the very least it would be a different set off problems than the ones I'm encountering at the huge company I'm at now. Anyway, it just seems to get worse and worse at my current workplace, and that's just another sign to me that it's time to move on.
I've always felt like a fish out of water at my current workplace, but that concept crystallized for me a few years ago. It's weird, I remember when it happened. Nearly six years ago, I somehow had the realization that I just couldn't "relax" and fit into the lazy work culture I saw around me. I had actually tried it for a while, "kicking back" as it were, and just couldn't do it. In May 2012 I guess a lightbulb turned on over my head -- I decided that I personally was happier when working my ass off, and so I started doing just that, and there was plenty of work to do. By 2014 I noticed that my efforts weren't really being rewarded by the company -- I mean, a 3.5% raise for working your ass off vs a 2% raise for sitting around? These are pathetic numbers but frankly what one has to expect in a large company, especially when working in a non-management role. So that's when I decided I need to move on, but I had a huge project I had to get done first, and that project literally took me from 2014 to 2016. Then in 2017 there was one more "smaller" project, that I decided to stick around for, but I've now wrapped that up, and it's time to move on.
I like to think I'm doing this because I still have some ambition in me. I want to work in cleantech, instead of just following the news about it, and I have some specific ideas about what cleantech niche I want to work in. Eventually I can see spending both my professional time and my free time in this sector, in that I can see charitable applications for the technology. For example, it could deploy to the third world, or to disaster areas, and help start (or restart) the local power grid. I can see that this stuff is going to change the world, and I want to be part of that.
First, though, I need to get through the next four weeks, wrapping up at my current job. Then I'll spend a couple months work on the long-delayed personal projects, and then I'll dive back into the corporate world, this time doing something that's personally meaningful.
Wish me luck!