Burnout does not always happen if you're overworked due to volume, complexity, or or volume of complexity. It can happen when you're underutilized or you're tasked with things you don't care about. Bugs you are not thrilled to fix. Problems you don't see the value in solving. I lost my spark and joy for coding.
After several years of doing web development work for other companies and projects, you might miss the work you used to like to do. The honeymoon phase wears off quickly when you're not doing the things you enjoyed about web development.
For me, I missed styling a well-designed blog and making a design responsive! I sensed my accessibility coding skills weakening because I wasn't actively doing that work. Up until recently, I even considered exiting from web development.
It doesn't hit you in one explicit moment. It's little grains of sand that form a mound and eventually a mountain.
Acknowledge your loss
Listen to that whisper inside you that tells you that you are dissatisfied. Acknowledge it. You don't even need to know what to do about it.
Yes, you can be grieving over your loss of interest in your job. That's an option. And you are allowed to feel that.
I could tell you to start a side project, but that's solutionizing way too early. You might be at the stage where you just need to grieve "who you once were" – a bright-eyed bushy-tailed developer fresh out of bootcamp, ready to beautify everything on the web. Do that.
And when you're ready, make a move.
Make a micro move
You can make a move by starting really, really small. Here are some ideas:
- Open up CodePen. Look at today's CodePen picks and poke around them. Fork it and make it your own.
- Visit Pinterest and type in "blog design" and pin/save some designs you like and consider coding them later on.
- Watch a video under 10 minutes long about some new tech. If it doesn't interest you, watch another of a different topic or by a different vlogger.
- Think about the things you enjoyed about the honeymoon phase of your career. What's one thing you could do again?
We often hear about having side projects. I used to roll my eyes at this, but there is some truth to them. Think of a topic or theme you're passionate about, and build around it. I'm passionate about travel, so I started a travel blog and in the process, I learned a lot about Gatsby, styled components, GraphQL, and advanced React concepts.
You might really like a TV series and you want to be able to make connections amongst all the characters. A CRUD app that emphasizes on clean data structures might be what you can build.
Make sparks, not fires.
Make a big move
Sometimes, you do need to make a big garbage fire to ignite some meaningful change in your career. Changes of scenery are allowed. You are allowed to move on if some team or work does not serve you anymore.
If you've been laid off, view this as a golden ticket for a fresh start. Take an inventory of your personal goals and skills, and seek opportunities that align with what you've always wanted.
Think about what you want going forward by answering these questions:
- What kind of product do I want to work on?
- What kind of pace do I need to feel productive?
- What kind of technology do I want to be really fluent at?
Your answers can guide you when you're looking for a new job or new project.
Give it time
Before you rage quit the web development world, check in with yourself every week. Figure out if it's just a bad company, bad project, bad communication, or just a bad week. It cannot define how you feel about it all, forever.
But if you joined web development for the right reasons – to be helpful and make the web a better place for everyone – you will find a new environment or step into a new chapter to see that through. Onward!