After 9 months off work I am so excited to go back to my previous company. I have renewed optimism and curiosity.
I want to cut my teeth on new problems. Bring fresh perspective. Learn new things. Work with new people who have different ideas. I want to make new friends and form new gatherings around common interests. I want to improve everyone’s day at work, help people and be helped, try and have fun in spite of pressure and stress or even because of it.
As it is with a new chapter, I have the feeling of emancipation with the freedom to reinvent myself and take on new challenges, the intoxicating abundance of opportunity in front of me is luring me in. Every time you learn something new you take it with you and approaching a new environment is something to be learned too.
Building software is a social problem. When you’re reasoning about code no you are not thinking about the social problems of writing software, but there is a vast social context that got you to the bit where you’re reasoning about this code.
- You are a person that takes yourself into work. You are happy or sad or disaffected or enthused and curious or bitter and drained and so on. You’re attitude makes a huge impact on your work and on the attitudes and work of those around you.
- Your work serves a social cause. We write software for us, about us, by us, to help us, to exploit us, to connect us, or whatever, but it’s all about us.
- The code you’re writing and the software you’re using is predominantly written by others besides yourself, through direct (team) and indirect (other teams, OSS, etc) collaboration. You are writing in a programming language that is developed by communities of people. You are a part of that.
It’s so important to hold onto the motivations you hold dear, that in the face of an emotive dispute or a crushing defeat or glorious victory in the every day life of you and your programming and the general social context and the society you live in, you can feel that you are acting on these motivations and understand and evolve your actions and approaches, to feel that you are moving in a certain direction and be aware of it, at least to draw any conclusion other than one of confusion.
Being aware is important. I recall frustration at myself for not acting in the way that I know I want to. Often we are dragged along with a conversation and start saying and doing things very instinctively, without really thinking. This is the opposite of awareness. Some of the things I’d like to be aware of:
- I want to bring out the best in others. I want to hear their ideas and stories and hear interesting things they’ve got to say. Conversely I don’t want to hear too much crap.
- I want to tell others about cool and fun things and just have fun.
These might seem stupidly self-evident but I’m often in a conversation that is pure bitching and utter tosh. And more, we the deliverers of tosh are not really aware that we are and we don’t even mean to. We are all prone to slipping into nothing chat and then out of fear of being boring, say something obnoxious. Say nothing instead.
Being around others can stimulate me in very positive ways. Or it can bring me down. I shall try to recognise when I am gaining out of others and when they are draining. I love a deep meaningful chat but I don’t like listening to garbage hyperbole ridiculing others. Yet sometimes I feel down after a conversation without really realising why. I’d like to be aware of what I want and the contrasting reality, to know if I am sad for the wrong reasons and vice versa.
I want to be emotionally involved in my work and invested in my life generally. At the same time, I would like to be able to look at where I am, who I am and what I do with clarity and insight as though I have a fresh pair of eyes every day. I cannot have it both ways. But I’d like to try and keep a trail of breadcrumbs back to home and be able to look back along the path I have travelled as well as ahead to where I am going.
Techniques for keeping refreshed:
- Do new things.
- Learn a new programming language
- Read a new book
- Study a new topic
- Try a new sport
- Learn a new instrument
- Go a new route to work
- Start the day at a new time
- Meet new people
- Listen to new music
- Be healthy
- Drink less, smoke less, sleep more, move more
- Keep up with good friends, forget bad ones
- Do fewer things properly, not lots of things poorly
- Do things you enjoy and try things you think you’d hate and stop doing things you know you hate
- Think long term
- Keep things up a little every day and you’ll get quite far.
- Write a bit a day
- Read a bit a day
- Practise an instrument or sport or exercise a bit a day
- Chart your progress a bit a day and look how far you’ve come
- Give up on things that aren’t working out long term, you gave it a shot
- Time to refresh! Use this time for something else \o/
Time management is important for keeping excited and motivated but so is the awareness that you’re making a decision to focus your efforts on something so that you can and do focus but also so that you can switch off your focus, put your efforts to bed and relax and compartmentalise your life. Then, revisit old problems with new thinking and new energy after a rest.