Plenty of examples to counter that, although it might be true for some. Having to get good fast in order to put food on the table certainly sounds like it'd be motivating, although in a way I'd find unpleasant.
The same comment goes on to say "When you jump of the cliff their is exponential growth before you hit the ground. When its time to pay bills well climb back up the cliff when you get to the top of it you will find your self much further." so there's either an awful lot being lost in translation, or this is someone to whom coherent thought does not come easily.
I'm being facetious but only slightly - it seems to me that a lot of hackers have been doing this their entire lives and it's going to be a while before they are profitable.
I've been bootstrapping since Nov 2010 (repairing old Macs and contracting) and there has been a tidal wave of change washing over the industry with new freelancing matchup services and funding opportunities like kickstarter. I feel like I've been ramen profitable for about a year and really feel close to a breakthrough in the next 3-6 months. If I could just find a nontechnical benefactor, it would sure be a lot easier.
What's kept me going is the thought of working at a day job for years, only to break even (been there, done that). There are more important things in life than money. I garden now and ride my bike instead of drive. I think perhaps society is starting up as well.
being a technical cofounder i did all the coding so the only expense was the server costs and also the design company to put together a nice layout for us. so overall, not much overheard.
cofounder: Hey Ed, it's 6:30. Finish up. Let's go next door and get a beer.
edw519: No, I have to finish <Task X>.
cofounder: Do that later. Have a beer with me.
edw519: No, I have to finish this now.
cofounder: Have a beer with me, then do that tomorrow.
edw519: No, this has to be finished tonight.
cofounder: Then have a beer with me, and come back after the beer and finish it tonight.
edw519: No, I have to finish it first.
cofounder: If you have a beer with me and don't finish that, how will our Annual Report be different?
cofounder: You heard me. If you have a beer with me and don't finish that tonight, how will our Annual Report be different?
edw519: I don't understand.
cofounder: Listen one more time and answer the fucking question! If you have a beer with me and don't finish that tonight, how will our Annual Report be different?
edw519: It won't be.
cofounder: Good. Then let's have that beer now. OK?
Personal life hacks:
1) All the folks telling you that diet and exercise will magically make things better are actually right in micro scale. (You can't pushup your way out of being a salaryman but it is very hard to not get a QOL boost from reguar exercise.) Blew my mind to experience this since I had always assumed it was social signaling.
2) Your startup will always send signals that it really needs you. Consider making a commitment to maintaining family/friendship/church/whatever ties so that you can maintain perspective on how much the bat signal going off really matters.
3) You'll tend to end up like the folks you hang around with. If you steep yourself 100% in startup culture, you'll tend to pick up its cultural pathologies. I mean, do your five closest friends all overwork? That might be why seeing half days off as a luxury item became your new normal. Consider reconnecting with old friends or broadening your social circle.
Despite how it may seem there's no chance your company will die or suffer any irreparable harm in a week. Just do it.
When you come back have a discussion with your co-founders. Try to talk through (calmly and without resentment) the problems you see. Focus on finding the best solutions to the problems. Don't get into arguments about the past. Everything before is water under the bridge. You will have to accept that certain things probably can't be fixed, and that's okay. Fix the things that hinder your company's ability to succeed.
Also, make sure you sleep enough every day. Don't skimp on sleep at all. Nothing will make you burn out faster than chronic sleep deprivation. Everyone can get 8+ hours of sleep per night if they make it a priority.
There is only one working solution. Get professional help.
If your servers crash - you ask an expert. If your car makes funny noises - you go to a garage, were there are professionals. If you have an infection - you consult an M.D.
But we tend to ignore psychological conditions and we tend to ask others (amateurs) for an opinion. But this is really nothing more than a physical illness in respect to the way it has to be treated - by an expert.
So do yourself a favor and ask your favorite search-engine for professionals, that know their stuff, when it comes to burnout. And then make an appointment. You are no good to your startup, if it crashes around you, because you crash and burn. You are no help to anybody, if your condition affects your work (and it will do that soon).
You have the responsibility for everybody, who's paycheck depends on the success of your startup - and that depends on your well being.
And: You owe it to yourself to heal.
just my two cents
I've experienced burnout a number of times in personal and professional contexts and I think nearing 30, I've got a pretty good handle on myself finally.
1. You can ALWAYS and should ALWAYS talk to SOMEONE. My advice is find a great therapist. If you can't afford one, you need to find a friend, confidant, or family member that's away from the action. Talk through things and see if you can wrap your head around what's bothering you.
2. Exercise. Seriously. Exercise helps sleeps, weight loss, anxiety, depression, add--it's a pretty awesome medication. Read "Spark" by John Ratey.
3. Sleep. The times in my life I've felt most burnt out corresponded with awful sleeping patterns. (also see 2)
4. Reflect. After trying to talk through things and getting your body back on track think about your work. Are you happy doing what you're doing? Do you want to do something else? (some might recommend doing this first--I wouldn't; only because in my judgment I've made decisions I regretted because I felt like I wasn't in the right place--not because I really didn't like the opportunity)
This is obviously a reader's digest version, but it took me probably 5 or 6 iterations before I could identify, prevent (or treat) my burnout.
* Sleep like a rock, when you get the chance. Lack of sleep, among alcohol abuse are the most common causes of depression (at least from my personal observation)
* Hang out with friends, family as much as possible, when you get the chance. They'll constantly remind you why you work so hard. Also try to explain them why are you doing certain tradeoffs in your relationship with them.
* Swallow a boatload of Magnesium + B6. IMHO it's the biggest source of happiness one can buy for little money. It keeps your stress levels in control and your heart condition in shape.
* Meditate. I cannot stress this enough. Constantly talk to yourself when you're alone and seek thoroughly for things that cause distress in your life. Debug yourself. You have to like yourself for others to like you!
* Get a girlfriend that understands you or dump the one that doesn't get it (unless you're already married)
I would recommend to take some time off and _travel_, ie. active vacationing. If you just sit around at home that's probably no good. Also, if you can't sleep, take some pills.
This may sound odd, but I found reading books from the Dalai Lama also helps to handle issues like this on an intellectual level, ie. remove the negative emotions and just figure out what's bothering you.
If you're startup is doing good, then thank the Hacker News Gods and don't worry!
Best of luck! Cheers =)
PS.: if you need someone to talk to check my profile for contact info.
Who was it that said if you can't take a month off without telling anyone you don't really have a business? Yes, yes, I know that a startup is not yet a true business, but one of the most important things in a startup is letting go as you grow. It's very easy to convince yourself that you are absolutely essential, but in reality your job is to build a money-making machine where you are not essential. One cause of burnout is being overworked because you are taking on too much personally. When you build something from the ground up, you have a lot of knowledge that others might not have, which makes it psychologically difficult to delegate, but nevertheless you have to find a way to let people make their own mistakes or your own treadmill will go faster and faster until you flare out spectacularly.
1) You are not alone. Most founders will completely sympathize with you and understand your feelings. There are a growing number of founders that are coming out with their stories. Remember pg's articles about the highs and the lows? Also check #3 of YC's survey here: http://www.paulgraham.com/really.html
2) It's normal. Knowing that everybody hurts. It's normal that things are hard. If you can acknowledge this one simple fact, things become much easier.
3) Openness. Talking to friends and family and being open about it. The hardest thing I found was to be vulnerable wit those I feared might abuse it (investors, spouse, co-founders). In the end it actually improved everything about my relationships with most of those (and some that it didn't - it showed their true colors). For example with my gf - for her it was an instant revelation how I was feeling and she understood why I was cranky, tired or otherwise distant. After telling her how I felt - it was like instant intimacy.
4) Time out. Taking constructive time out and feeling happy are correlated immensely. Constructive time out is not watching the newest Walking Dead, but for me an effective time out was writing lists of my thoughts down. Taking the time out meant I would feel more in control. Feeling in control directly leads to more peace and happiness.
5) Doing GTD. The other items in the list are somewhat softer but this is one that has made the biggest practical impact. I religiously follow zero inbox and for me it is a something I pride myself in too -> feel better about things and gives me the brainspace to think about the higher level stuff.
Hope that helps. Feel free to email if you want to discuss more. There's much more back story to this than can be public. ;-)
Adjust your work life balance. This means doing things like (as have been mentioned) getting more exercise and getting better sleep. Both of these will not only help your mood, but they will make you more productive.
You need to talk to your team. Explain what's happening.
You have awareness and insight - you say "despite things going well I'm somewhat depressed" - that's good. Try some cognitive behaviour therapy techniques. A good book is "Mind over mood"; a good website is the Australian "mood gym". You could see a therapist.
Luckily this kind of stress / low mood responds excellently to interventions.
I'd check on sleep deprivation first. Take a week off, sleep 10 hours every night, exercise every day lightly (long walks listening to music are good), read a book. If you do all this and you still think you're at the end of your rope then you need to talk with your cofounder.
You also said it isn't affecting your work yet, but people are smart and social signals are sent without even realizing it. Its impacting your work already, in little ways, and will only get worse. Deal with this now, don't wait.
What happens in such situation is that we naturally and often unconsciously start to think about it trying to find a way to handle it, understand what is going on and how to solve the situation. This is going on 24/24 7/7 and this is what is sucking your energy.
Taking a week off is an emergency protection measure you should indeed apply. But this just puts a spatial distance between what is harming you and yourself. Soon or later you'll have to come back to your startup. You probably know it and you may spend this week off continuing to burn your energy thinking about the problems.
So taking a real step back and a week off requires that you completely switch off from the harmful context. This requires will power but you are aware that your health is in danger now.
The second thing to do is become aware that apparently you are failing to solve the problem by yourself the way you tried so far (probably unconsciously with intuitive methods). So you have two options now. One is to take the step back and, after a recovery time, reanalyse the situation rationaly by trying a different approach you tried so far. The second is to get help from someone who know what you are going through and can help you sort out the solution. In both case it is only you that can identify the problems and the way out. The help is just to help you make a difference between what is important, what is not, what are automatic negative ideas and what is truly positive.
You got aware that something is wrong and you asked for advise. That is great because you've done half of the way to get you out of this situation.
Last point. As other people tell you here. Take this problem very seriously and tackle it NOW, ASAP or get the hell out of this situation if you can't handle it. This can kill you by suicide if you don't handle it. This may sound completely stupid and unbelievable to suicide one self, but you may get into a depression state where the pain you feel is so strong and unbearable, the situation seaming so hopless that sucide will look like a very rational and logic way to stop this. You are apparently far from this stage, but this is what you'll find at the end of the road if you don't solve the situation. I don't want to scare you. It is just to show you what is in the balance and why you should react and take it very serioulsy. The earlier you detect it, the easier you can adjust your course to avoid the dead end.
The options turned out to be worth a lot, by I couldn't enjoy work for 3 years, so I am not sure continuing to work was a good decision.
In my case the reason for a burnout was personal (relations with my boss) and I suspect that the reason is always personal.
I would distill it to 2 advices: ask yourself the 5 whys about the burnout and don't continue working in this state.
I'm not a confounder, but the CEO-founder is a friend and hired me on as soon as he cleared his A-round funding. (We've been confounders before on a project that flopped and he knew I wasn't in the risk position to be a dayjob-quitting early employee this time.) He's a serious workaholic -- claims to enjoy being so -- and the company is doing very well. That said, he's CLEARLY burning out.
He's talked for the last year about taking some time off, but between the birth of a new child, fundraising, strategic partnerships and the continued burden of success, his "week in Florida" kept being pushed off, shrunk to "three days in Florida" to "a day off" to "I'll take some time after this next funding round. Maybe."
Setting aside the fact that he's my CEO (and a ragged chief exec is bad for everybody), he's also a friend. I don't want to see him burn out. This will almost certainly NOT be the last company we work on together, and I'd like to see him survive -- mind, body, marriage and social circle intact -- past our current endeavor.
So, again, how do I convince my workaholic CEO to take some time off?
for every problem there is always a solution, talk to your cofounder, your view on life and your peers is toxic now but this will change very quickly
dont rush into any decision now, wait until you see clear again
It took me several years to pin it down, but in my case getting more sleep completely solved above problems. Try and take a full day off and sleep in. Pull full 9-10 hours of sleep and assess if your irritability level is the same or not.
I was also feeling exhausted and feared the worst, but it was all related to that. If you don't see the sun very often, you will build up a lack of Vitamine D.
I'd time-box it - tell them you are feeling burnt out, and want their help for 2 months. No reasonable person would be annoyed at a co-worker taking it easy for 8 weeks. If you feel better at the end of it, then the crisis (for them) is averted. If not, you can consider your options. Note - I'm not a therapist, and I don't know if that's the best way of handling it. There's plenty of people who are better qualified than me to come up with a good plan for this.
> startup that really needs me right now
You should really re-consider that. No startup needs 100% of your ability. A slightly inferior feature-set won't kill a viable startup. You aren't in a 100m sprint in which you need to do everything that's humanly possible to beat the other guy. It's more like a dance competition, in which strategic decisions are more important. That's assuming you have a ton of competitors.
This happens and in a way it is good that your co-founder is going strong and doesn't need a break too. You badly need to recharge yourself & this has to be time well spent cautiously and consciously chalking out what you do during your break. A hackathlon or doing some sales for a friend can charge you back it need not be necessarily travel or rest. In effect you need to do something very different from the type of thinking that you do everyday (note different in thinking not the work type).
Also give yourself a break from all the headaches on your current startup - consciously keep away from talking to anyone on the team or checking out updates (positive updates are probably fine)
If you are the type of person for whom physical exertion works free up the mind - go for a hard trek or run or swim.
As far as your depressed nature, cofounder resentment etc - you might be blowing it out of proportion right now given you are not able to contribute effectively or thinking too much.
The biggest issue from a business standpoint is your resentment of your cofounder [I'll leave healthcare diagnosis to the professionals].
Basically, you and your cofounder are married. The startup is your baby. I expect [based on personal experience] a marriage counselor would focus on improving communication between the two of you.
I'd ask what the particular resentment is in regards to, but the details don't really matter.
What matters is:
1. Are the causes of resentment something which can be rectified either directly between the two of you, or with mediation?
2. How can the level of trust between the two of you be strengthened to the point where you can work through these problems together?
3. Is there someone who could help both of you work through the issue together?
The "end-game" for burnout is complete dysfunction and possibly worse for an extended period of time. If this happens the first thing your co-founder will say is "Why didn't you tell me?"
So, think about that and act.
How exactly to break it, I'm seeing loads of great advice in the rest of this thread so I'm not going to repeat it all. It's a different struggle for everyone.
One of the most common overlooked things with developers is the fact that your brain strives for equilibrium. Tipping the scale too long can really have disastrous side-effects if you aren't doing some of the things you love doing. I broke down for nearly 2 months unable to code at all but it was the last time that happened since these adjustments.
I was good about exercising even at the depths of my burnout, but I nonetheless still felt tired all the time. The dietary supplements have made a profound difference. I've never felt so energetic in my life (I'm in my mid forties).
I just got laid off from a douche bag boss (who knows, you may have been that boss, for all I know). He was pretty much in your shoes. I imagine in another life he'd be a good guy but his negative attitude was infectious and as a result his protégés are now professional douches and everyone around him is miserable. You're going to become THAT GUY if you don't get out.
It sounds to me like you need to get some perspective on things so I would suggest:
1) Talk to your co-founder. They probably see you in ways you don't realise and they should understand that for the sake of the startup it is best to give you a bit of support. If they don't then seriously think about whether you want to continue with someone who won't support you (and the startup) when you need them to.
2) Take a break. By this I mean a real break where your cell phone is off for at least a week if not two. Where you do as little as possible and try not to even think about work. It might take a bit of time to get yourself a chance to do this but you have to.
3) Learn to meditate. It will totally change the way you look at things. The feeling of suffering and pain you have comes from your mind being out of control - you know rationally that it isn't as bad as it seems and said as much above. Learning to calm your mind and get rid of the fog will help you look at what really is important and you will feel more in control and positive.
3) Remember that you are only human. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes and things getting on top of you. You must learn to not be perfect and be happy that you are as you are. There is no shame in needing help.
5) If the above don't work for you go and see a doctor. Depression is a real and sometimes very severe illness. For some people (but only some) medication is the right answer.
Hope that helps.
You: I completely agree with patio11's diet & exercise point. Strenuous exercise (over 30 min) releases endorphines that act as both analgesics and sedatives, and are shown to reduce depression, increase self-esteem, etc. You owe it to yourself and your startup to do this life hack no matter what the cause of your current unhappiness.
Of course, diet, sleeping well, and taking time off/socializing are also great ideas. The important thing is to take action now before it affects your life/startup any more than it has.
Your startup:If you think some of your resentment or depression is due to dysfunction in your startup, then come up with ways you can improve it. Focus on actions you can take rather than on ways other people/the group could change. I also find that people are more likely to change when asked to do something than when asked to "not do" something.
For example, if workaholism is an issue, it's easy to fall into outward/"don't do" thinking like this: telling the group that the amount of time required is making you unhappy, and that it should change. Instead, try saying something like, "I think I'll work better if I take a whole day off every two weeks and I'd love it if people joined me. My first day off will be x day, and I'm going to go hiking, let me know if you want to come." People love to join a good idea.
Take some days off. Soon you will understand that everyone respects your vacation. Don't afraid to pick up the phone and give solutions where it's needed while you are in the middle of your holidays. Picking up the phone will make you feel comfortable.
And always remember: Everyone respects your vaction. Don't afraid to leave for some days and relax.
If you take some time off to rest and you don't feel any better seek professional help. Mental health is just as important as physical health and isn't something that you should feel ashamed about.
I suppose there are several reasons why someone can burn out, and as well as getting some rest to clean the mind it is also important to find out why that's happening. Otherwise it would happen again.
My first and best manager I had, once told me, that jobs are a bit like relationships, the more you try different ones the more you find out what you _don't_ like.I have found that to be a great piece of advise. So I guess my advise to you would be find out what it is not working for you. Talk to someone outside the whole situation that can have a clear picture of what's happening to you, either a therapist, an old pal or just a family members I guess would be able to help you.
I hope this helps :) I have been there and I was miserable for family and friends.. but having them close to me was a huge help to get back to my old self once again :)
1) Not enough sleep and exercise. Get at least three consecutive days of solid sleep and go work out. See how it changes your mood and thoughts.2) Your co-founder is dominant and you have no say. You don't feel ownership. There's an imbalance of power and you're in the second seat. A lot of startups operate this way.
On a personal note, I was (is) feeling the same thing for a long time. You have to decide what your life is going to look like. Pay attention to compromising decisions.
P.S. If you are my co-founder, take a vacation already. You work too much!
Become one of the inspiration junkies. Go to the gym. Work on another side of the business. Schedule your day, leaving time away from your startup. Don't let what's urgent mascarade around with the set of things that actually need to get done. Start taking legal "smart" drugs like Piracetam, Aniracetam, Pramiracetam, Noopept, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Lion's Mane Mushroom, Magnesium L-Threonate, etc.. in addition to helping you get "smarter" and increasing your productivity/proficiency they'll give you motivation and a serene feeling.
I started a small business that worked in conjunction with title companies. We basically recorded on our own servers deeds, notice of defaults, and other real estate documents and sent them to the county recorders office.
We didn't have much competition because this concept was relatively new and not popular back then. So everything was going great except my partner and I were two completely different people when it came to managing.
He was a strict by-the-book kind of guy that alienated potential clients due to his stubborn nature and unwillingness to compromise. On the other hand, I was too lenient and was letting clients take advantage of us. At the time we didn't know that maybe we could complement each others weakness, so we were constantly arguing.
So we both went to a mediator that suggested we go on a recreational trip together and not talk about business at all. So we did and at first argued about minor stuff, but finally came to a realization that neither of us were going to succeed if we kept it up. How could we run a business together if we couldn't even come to an agreement to which car to rent? We started compromising little by little and eventually it was easy to see the other person's point of view.
We turned the business around, made it even more successful and sold it making both of us very happy. Now we have a new company that we started together and it is also doing pretty well.
My advice would be to take some time off. Maybe spend some time with your co-founder in a non-business way. Get to know him if you don't really know him well. And don't sweat the small stuff.
Knowing your problem is the first step, and I think you've already got that down.
If you still feel down, don't forget you have a growing user-base that is cheering you on.
I'd recommend some sort of mind training... just relaxing doing what other people says is relaxing almost never helps (beach, book, etc).
Check this out [english audio]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHjyMq6eZB8
This one is good too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogH3KAge6zw
An ounce of prevention...something something.
I can tell he's tired - he comes in to the office later and later, seems more easily irritated, has worked crazy long hours for years with hardly any days or weekends off. I think the daily stresses are just starting to wear on him. (Me too, of course, but that's a subject for a different post!) If I recognize what the OP is going through in my own co-founder, how should I bring it up?
For those of you who have or are going through this kind of thing, any thoughts on the best way to talk to someone who is struggling with this? I really want to help.
The author has some really good points and ideas.
Don't think it can happen to you? Read about Ben Huh at Cheezeburger.http://www.geekwire.com/2011/cheezburger-ceo-ben-huh-details...
Daily exercise helped me, try getting your pulse up, if you do this regularly you will get much better mood, more energy and things will lighten up.
so I would just say you are not alone!
Also, if you are motivated entirely by making money and are not inspired by what you are doing, this could be a cause.
Find out why you're doing what you're doing, reaffirm it, and it will inspire you again. Stop sulking. A physical break is not going to help if you don't sort yourself out mentally.
I know it's hard to swallow, but try it.
You can sync your bookmarks using Firefox Sync to your Android, if you were to use Firefox for Android (it's pretty good and there are big improvements on the way - I went to a talk about it at FOSDEM).
For your iPod touch, I have no idea, though it raises the question why you need one when you have an Android phone but anyway.
For your home computer, you could switch to Firefox however I imagine there'll be an addon that syncs bookmarks from Firefox Sync. I'd always recommend using the more open service as it's far more likely to be supported.
I love Diigo's ability to highlight a snippet of text on a page.
I have been thinking about it from some time now and have found a way around. I will do something similar to ycombinator minus funding. I will give my full attention as a founder to only one startup at a time but for other startup ideas (mine or other people's) I will work as technology/business adviser for 5%-10% equity. I will give them technology/business related advice or will code/design on weekends. Networking with other hackers/founders will be important as I would need people who can give their full time and take these startups forward with little guidance and help from me. I'm sure there are many hackers looking for good ideas for startup or stuck with wrong ideas.
For my own ideas, I will quickly develop a functional prototype using bootstrap/django and will look for hackers who can take the work forward.
I'm not sure whether this strategy will work or not but there is no harm trying it.
The hard fact is that you really can only focus on one idea, so make the most of it and pick the one that you're most frustrated doesn't exist yet.
Popular advice these days is to just do something you're really interested in, but it's resulting in a bunch of redundant nonsense in popular spaces like music and geolocation social networks. I would only do something based on interest if I had a really unique offering (Turntable.fm comes to mind). Otherwise, focus on something that just sucks and that's begging for a solution. You don't need to convince the market that they want/need what you have. They already know they do and have been waiting for it. If you can do something that you're uniquely positioned to do, even better.
Best of luck!
Good luck, have fun.
Good luck with your endeavor.
If your app is heavily dependent upon fb, make it known upfront about what the app uses facebook for, and only then use it as the only option.
4) & 5) would not be much appreciated and used options IMO for such an app.
But it's important. My girlfriend and I just spent all Saturday walking around downtown Boston window shopping because the weather was so lovely. It was a great, relaxing day - it felt like vacation.
So do that. Hell, use up some of your vacation days. Your company will survive without you for a week or three.
And stop working so much. Seriously. Set a time and go home regardless of if you have "finished" your stuff for the day. It's a hamster wheel of work and you'll never go home if you have just one more thing to finish.
I've considered taking a "normal-job-as-sabbatical" several times (e.g., being a welder for a year).
(also, consider that humans tend to adjust their problem-severity-sensitivity knob to their current level of input. e.g., the bus driver in your home town is probably really stressed out about this "problems". this puts you in the rare position of possibly being able to truly achieve 0-stress in one of those "normal" jobs, as long as you can keep your current perspective on what "real" stress is).
So fix the problem... scale yourself back to eight hours a day. Make it a point to leave the office by 6:30. After a month of this shift this up to normal closing time. There is no need to ask permission: if someone asks say you have something in the evenings after work. If this is a problem waltz into a more reasonable position.
That said, one practical suggestion is that if you're changing your work hours, you need to get into the office at or before 9:00am, since it is common for managers to perceive staff as coming in late, but very rare for them to recognize the sheer amount of time put in working late. You also don't want to spend a lot of time at the office talking about your new evening activities while you're getting people conditioned to your working non-insane hours. You want the only noticeable shift in your behavior to be the fact you leave at a reasonable hour. After a month or two you won't need to worry about this, but if you give into the temptation it might be perceived as flaunting authority.
Why do you work so much? Do you need the money? Are you too timid to say no? Are you looking for a promotion? Do you love the game?
On top of all that work, why do you spend even more time on open source projects? Do you still have something to prove? Is this a source of entertainment or anxiety?
The fact is, you're extremely talented and could create almost any work arrangement you fancy. There's no need to quit IT and become a bus driver.
But again, what you should do now depends entirely on why you're currently working so much.
For what it's worth, I've been there before. I almost sold everything and moved to Costa Rica. Instead, I sold everything and made less radical changes.
One of the reasons I worked so much was because everything I owned had monthly payments. Selling everything solved that. Once you don't need to make a lot of money to pay your bills the world opens up for you.
Suddenly you can walk into your boss's office and say, "look, this is how it's going to be...". If she says no, then you walk. I really can't express enough the difference not needing money makes. Most people are desperate for money and it shows. The confidence you get from not needing a paycheck for the next year shows even louder because it's so unusual.
Now, I typically do consulting work 4 days per week and work on my start-up at nights and on Fridays. On the weekend I hang out with friends, surf, snow board, skate, and sometimes do more work (if nothing else is available). I also take a ridiculous amount of vacations, some just a few days and some for a week, but typically about every 3 months. That's what keeps me going.
I really did give up my life, leave the city and try to go do something else. Let me tell you - everyone has a stressful job, even the bus driver or the photographer (imagine dealing with screaming kids or bridezillas for a job- that's where most photographers income comes from).
You mention writing this hung over and I have an observation, with no judgement attached - drinking on a regular basis screws up a lot of stuff in your life, and often causes depression. This part of your life might warrant some deep self-examination?
In the end, I got a job I absolutely love (no longer self employed, and happy about that), in a place I love. I don't love every minute of it, nobody ever does, but on whole there's more love than hate. I've also deeply examined and changed my drinking habbits, and that has literally changed my life.
My email is in my profile. Feel free to contact me if you ever want to talk.
Others have talked about vacation. Vacation is good and important, especially if you travel, but if you don't change your life you're just coming back to the same crap you left.
Well, the quiet town bit and the no stress bit, anyway. I like what I do, I just don't feel like doing it every waking hour of my life. I have years where I just want to move to someplace quiet and slow-paced and spend as much time as possible with my wife. (And when we have kids, that's exactly what we'll do.)
Your skill set is so sought after these days. My current company would surely jump at the chance to give you some contract work.
If I were you, I would leave the job, take a year, and rent a place in that quiet town. I would line up a little contract work, which frankly, won't be hard. I would bill by the hour and work less than eight hour days. I would drink beers with my friends and hang out in backyards. After the year, I would reevaluate - quiet towns have their pros, but they also have their cons.
It's not your skills that are causing you pain here, it's what you're doing with them. Your abilities can be used to make you happy.
Anyone recognizes this?
I do recognize this, though not anywhere near as severe.
I keep telling myself that if I ever were to get so bad that my non-work life and health quality drop significantly, I'll drop everything and become an Alpaca farmer (that was a running joke when I was in uni, but nowadays I feel like perhaps someday I'd like to do that for real).
I don't have as much experience with high pressure work and burn out as you do, but a few years ago, before I quit my job to work on startups and contract stuff, I was getting pretty burnt out working in telecoms. Similar deal, though not as severe (I didn't work as long hours, for example, but I rarely used my holiday time). Also, some personal stuff made the burnout all the worse. I quit my job and took a month to relax before starting contract work and other projects. Looking back, I think its very important to make sure you use your holiday time and to disconnect yourself completely from anything work related (which for me means to stay away from the computer altogether as much as I can).
The problem is your relationship with your job.
While others will suggest that you take a vacation (and I do agree), it wont fix the underlying problem which will just re-occur when you resume work (or another type of work).
You need to learn to be still even when your external circumstances are chaotic.
For this reason, I would highly recommend you take up meditation.
Start with 10-30 minutes per day in the morning where you still your mind. It will be difficult at first, but after 2-3 few weeks you'll get the hang of it and you'll notice that your mind will start to go back to the quiet space in your developed during the morning meditation.
You don't mention which city you are in, but I can personally vouch for Kadampa Buddhist centers as good teachers where the general classes are very light on doctrine and heavy on practical skills. You should be able to find them by searching for "Kadampa <your city>". You may also find other teachers, but I wouldn't be able to give you any idea of the quality. That said, it's likely that any class will be better than no class.
In a practical way, this will enable you to make better decisions and see the bigger picture. After a shorter time that you would think, you'll start to feel like you are the driver, rather than just a passenger stumbling from one chaotic and intense situation to the next.
I'm still lost and fairly unhappy on most days so obviously I don't have much figured out. The only thing I can suggest is that you need to discover your hobbies, and it cannot be anything work related. I love to draw, design, sculpt, etc; I even got a full ride for art which I gave up and paid for an engineering degree. After working for a year, I managed to convince myself that programming was my hobby and left no time for anything else.
Recently I have committed to an 8-9 hour work day. I give myself time to draw and to read and I've been happier since. The hardest part is to allow yourself to work less and take those vacations, to recognize the little things you've always wanted to do and actually follow up with it... like work remotely for a month in a random city, take a glass-blowing session with your girlfriend.
You probably don't nee d a permanent break from your career, just a better balance in life.
You have no down time, I dont mean time working on your open source pojects, i mean time when you watch movie, read a book, walk the dog, go to the cinema or for a meal or soemthing. 3 hours in the evening is barely enough time to wind down from a day at work and get ready to sleep.
hope you get good advice that helps you. All i can say is try to re-prioritise your life rather than your work.
This is going to sound cliché, but honestly I think it's your age. I remember at your age calling a friend once and telling him how great my life should be - I was wealthy, single, living in foreign lands, doing the best job, known in my industry, yet totally lonely. I felt guilty too about everything I had.
Sometime, I don't know when exactly, I just realised, you really have no control over your life. What happens happens, there is no reason for your life or mine so don't search for one.
When you get that, you realise that everyone is is in the same boat. Some people get different results by chance. It helps that you have skills, but don't try and run the race, if actually you don't feel like running it. Who really cares who wins anyway?
I'll tell you the thing that puts me straight: I think of Mark Zuckerberg. he has everything yet, could he really just go back-packing in India like others his age? Could he just decide to pack up and move to Paris for the kicks? The point I want to make is that success has it's limitations, it's responsabilities too.
If it's going to happen to you it will, but if it doesn't well that's just fine too.
It is actually about a letter written by Seneca a famous Stoic philosopher. Take 30mins to read, will be worth it. Stoic philosophy in general has really helped me build a framework/value system.
Excerpt:"It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested."
I am 26/running my own distribution company + working full time sales/bus dev for enterprise tech company/side FB game project - applying for YC/Working PT as Crossfit instructor and training (exercise is a great break)/Living in Norway on my own (away from family/friends but still stay in touch online as I can).
Hope it helps!
If you like what you do just take a less demanding job in your field.
How did you went from thinking that solving problems is nice and fun (ok), to thinking that the way to go about it is to work as a expandable human slave to your bosses benefit (not ok)?
Even the problems you get to solve are not that much impressive in the grand scheme of things. Scaling some service to 100M users != solving cancer. Yours and 1000 other companies already do it.
Don't get tricked into the whole company culture --except if you have a share of the company. And even then, your life is worth more.
Where would you be in 50 years? Exactly.
Nah, just take a really long vacation. Like a year or two.
I just wanted to add that, since you seem very commited to the company you work for, why not try to learn to delegate?
I'm sure there are some very bright and ambitious younger professionals in your company you could take under your wing (or ask for staffing) and delegate some non-critical work (or even critical if under your supervision).
It might be more work short term, but it'll be better long term. And it always pays to get backup - if you're indispensable, you can't make career choices, scale down on work as suggested or go on vacations.
After a really crappy end (for me) at a start-up in 2005, I took a look: Divorced, burnt, stressed, unresolved personal problems. I quit, dropped out, threw in the trowel. Studied yoga, learnt green home building, bought ground in Arizona and Baja, Mexico to create eco-villages. Deliberately did NOTHING in IT.
Well, the Housing collapse killed my eco-villages, at least for now. And I found that my brain, which was used to full-stack one-man-army development, was succumbing to the "devil will find work for idle minds to do" paradigm. Which was mostly dwell on what I missed working 70 hr weeks. All bad.
Now I'm getting back in the game, albeit slowly (my brains, they is a mush; and the tools are way diff than 2005). It's hard but exhilarating. My advice, which I am implementing, is:
May I suggest a long walk? Like a month? The Appalachian trail, or that walk in Spain featured in "The Way" movie.
Then go back to work on something YOU CARE ABOUT, and do your work using the eight hour burn. Forget about being a hero - no one remembers and no one pays for it. Do more than your fair share, and do it with integrity.
You'll need to schedule activities that will make you put down the mouse and get out of the house.
Life is a marathon - you will die trying to sprint the whole way. Maybe not if you're a skinny Kenyan.
but then you say:
> Of that I allocate 1 hour to my girlfriend daily.
This may be silly, but are you keeping up with the basics? Do you make time to exercise? To write down your day in a journal? To recreate somehow daily? Simple things like this I've found are essential for my personal mental well-being.
Another point a prof taught me--take time to celebrate small accomplishments. Fix a particularly nasty bug? Go for a short walk, or shoot some hoops in the hallway trashcan. That way you aren't deluded with problems like a bad day of rain.
Good luck, friend.
I'm not a doc, and so if someone here thinks this is horrible advice please let it be known.
I think several members here have suggested taking a vacation. Take one, a long one, go see fam, spend it traveling with your GF, or both or neither...whatever you want. Take one as long as you can 4wks, even if a week is unpaid, if you have the option.
Start with that, it doesn't rewrite your life, and let your mind calm down and then start evaluating what you think might work. Talk to people who care, talk to your parents, girlfriend, a buddy, me if you need an ear. Get it out first, then look for a ideas to make your life happier.
Maybe you need better hours and need to tell your employer, maybe a new 9-5 job, and hack away on some side project, or just maybe that bus driver job and to hell with this all, but being hunger-over, crying, stressed, you are in reactionary mode. I've been there for one reason or another, don't make an extreme change in this state.
You mention having a bad back; try finding a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu studio; it will definitely help your strength and is more low-impact at the beginning grappling stages (look for a smaller studio). Make sure you tell them about your back and they should help you work on it and will make sure you aren't being hurt more.
Give up open source; at-least scale it back for awhile. You need to be worrying more about you when you're this worn out.
-Don't- give up that girlfriend.
Now you're doing it because a)you have the skills b)people are pleased with your work.
Sounds like the level of excitement has faded to zero.
Make your own dream come true for a change
My advice is simple; as cliche as it may seem, take the time to read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. This book addresses most of the psychology behind your discontent and offers a slew of energizing solutions that should help get you out of the proverbial rut.
If I may, here's a great poem a wise man once shared with me:
Take time to think...It is the source of all powerTake time to read...It is the foundation of all wisdomTake time to play...It is the source of perpetual youthTake time to be aware...It is the opportunity to help othersTake time to love and be loved...It is life's greatest giftTake time to laugh...It is the music of the soulTake time to be friendly...It is the road to happinessTake time to dream...It is what the future is made ofTake time to give...It is too short a day to be selfishTake time to work...It is the price of success*
*in healthy doses
I might be totally off, but I think it's a plausible explanation.
For the record, my kid is totally learning GW-Basic.