Why I want to quit my job
I think it's time to quit my job. I've only been there 9 months but I'm not having fun anymore. If I resign today, I'll have been there a full year - hurrah for 3 month notice periods. But before I pull the trigger, I need to understand my reasons for wanting to quit. So let's see what comes up.
1. I want to be self-employed
I've wanted to become self-employed for a long time but have always been waiting to save more, or get a little more experience. Basically I've been trying to build a bigger safety net. My initial plan was to save up five years of living costs then quit this job - I have three years of expenses saved right now, which seems enough.
Why do I want to be self-employed? It probably could be a much longer piece of writing but it comes down to wanting to own my time. My time is the most valuable thing I have and I don't like selling forty hours of it each week with very little room for flexibility.
I suspect I won't be able to get out of selling my time entirely - I do still need to pay the bills so may have to take some contracting or freelance jobs but at least I know what my long term goal is. And with contracting and freelancing I'm not locked in for long periods, so if I quit, I quit almost immediately - there's no waiting three months to run out a notice period.
Ultimately I know I'm good enough at what I do to become self-employed although there is that fear of the unknown that's holding me back. I suspect it will do me good to take the jump and put some trust in myself.
2. The culture clash
My approach to work is, I suppose, a little chaotic. I like to make rapid changes and iterate as quickly as possible usually breaking things along the way. This works really well for me and means I complete things much faster than most people. My employer is the exact opposite. Changes are slow - if they happen at all - and everything moves glacially.
The senior leadership seems to be constantly reorganising the business, yet I have no confidence they understand any of what happens in the day-to-day work of each team. There's no real strategy other than those that relate to re-orgs and no sense of what organisation needs to be and how it needs to change to meet it's goals. Politics and bureaucracy are everywhere while people who do things are scarce. It often feels like most people who work there can't tell the difference between having a meeting to talk about doing the work, and actually doing the work.
All of this means that it feels incredibly difficult to get anything done and the organisation seems to actively be trying to prevent me from doing my job.
3. I don't enjoy it anymore
At the beginning I did look forward to going to work each morning. I knew I'd have some interesting problem to work on and new infrastructure to deploy. I would compete with myself to see how much code I could write in a day and it was fun. That faded quickly. I don't really have those interesting problems anymore - now they're just annoying problems, which I can't bring myself to believe are real problems - just contrived ones that don't need to exist and features that I know will never be used.
Now I find myself looking forward to each weekend. It's not good to spend five days of the week waiting for the remaining two so I need to do something about that. Someone I used to work with would wish everyone a happy Friday and get excited each week and I remember thinking that if you get that excited about the weekend, you should probably quit your job. Well, it's time to take my own advice.
Reasons to stay?
Just to make sure I've looked at this from all angles, lets consider reasons that I shouldn't quit.
- If I were to stay working, I could keep saving more money with very little risk. That would allow me to pay off debts, not worry about bills etc.
...and I can't think of another reason? Perhaps we could say that there's a risk I fail at creating my own software but that's not a reason to stay at my current job because I'd still prefer contracting over this full time role.
What's the worst that could happen?
How about we run through the worst possible scenario and see what happens there?
- I quit my job and try and build a business selling software
- I spend 2 years working on it, getting close enough to success that I don't quit but not close enough to actually make any money
At this point I will likely be starting to run out of money - so I just go get a contracting job. If there are no contracting jobs then I would need to get a normal job. And if there are none of those? Then I would sell my flat. I could live off that extra money for ~2 years - I could even move to a cheaper place to make it stretch even further.
By the time I run out of money, it'll be 2027 at the earliest and I'll be 32 years old. I'll have spent the past four years not really going anywhere but presumably learning a hell of a lot and having all kinds of experiences.
None of this particularly worries me - as a single young man I have very few responsibilities and a lot of opportunity.
I suppose it's pretty obvious what needs to come next. I'm going to quit tomorrow. I can't think of a good reason to stay, and I can think of lots of good reasons to leave. If I didn't do it, the only possible explanation would be fear of the unknown and that's not acceptable.
My last day will be three months from now - in September. Then I'm free and from there I've got all kinds of options.
I have an interview booked for next week to a job I applied to on a whim - it's not going self-employed but the job would be very cool. I'd be working for an AI company (which is the only reason I applied) though I don't expect to actually get it - I don't quite have the experience I think they're looking for. But if I were to get an offer then I would need to consider that very carefully. Assuming that job doesn't go anywhere then I'm left with finding a way to make some money. Three main ones come to mind - obviously number 1 is the most preferred:
- Develop some software and start selling it. Become a solopreneur (though I really don't like that term). This moves me away from selling my time altogether and sounds like an awesome life. Downsides are that it's high risk and I'd need to very quickly learn how to do stuff like marketing. Of course the rewards are commensurately large and I think I'd be good at it, once I've gotten some momentum.
- Freelancing. Use sites like Upwork to find temporary work. I think this would most likely be DevOps work but I'm not really sure what the DevOps freelance market is like - I would assume there isn't much of one as I don't see much point in a freelance DevOps engineer. However the shorter project timelines mean I would prefer this over contracting if possible. Downsides are there likely isn't much of a market and it's reputation based so might be difficult to break into.
- Contracting. This will be a last resort as it's basically the same as just getting another job. Of course it's slightly better because it's easier to quit and you get paid more. There needs to be at least one year of attempting the first two before I fall back to this. Downsides - it's basically a job.
I'm feeling nervous, but also excited. There are lots of opportunities around me, so it's time to start getting proactive and grabbing them.