Nearly 2 years ago, I decided to quit my job and chase my dreams (yes cliche, but I don’t care). What drove me to do it, despite having a great job and healthy lifestyle was because I felt unfulfilled. It didn’t matter how good my life looked ‘on paper’ something was deeply wrong and I felt like I was stuck in a repetitive loop headed towards nowhere. I published my thoughts in this blog post Quitting my Dream Job at Blizzard back in 2018.
Next week I will be starting a full time job again as a Software Engineer, this time at Amazon. Aside from the normal nervousness of starting a new job, I’m oddly excited and happily looking forward to going back to the same kind of 9-5 job in which I felt so unfulfilled just 2 years ago. ‘On paper’ you can say that my life is going back to where it was 2 years ago, but I feel none of the dread nor the looming dissatisfaction. Am I crazy or did something fundamentally change? I think it’s the latter and this post is an exploration into what changed over the past 2 years, during which I traveled for 6 months and then started my own business, that made it so I could look forward to the same day to day routine that I used to dread.
I don’t know how I ended up finding this quote but I remember where I was when I first read it. It was around 3 years ago, during an unproductive afternoon between the hours of 3-4pm. I was sitting at my desk at work, staring into my monitor with tired eyes, half working half surfing the internet digging for a dopamine hit to get me through the rest of the afternoon.
I remember thinking “Hey that’s a neat quote”, I savored it’s fleeting wisdom for a few dozen seconds before scrolling away and clicking into a Spongebob meme.
My brain never completely forgot about that quote, despite forgetting everything else about that day, and it came back to me recently when I started to question: “Why is it that something I used to view as unfulfilling and dull (a 9-5 desk job) has now become something I look forward to and am excited about?”
After some reflection, I realized that it’s because I have a vastly different perspective on the world and on myself now, compared to the perspective I had on my life 2 years ago. So despite going back and doing the same thing, which in my case is “go to work, write code”, I view it so differently now, and that makes all the difference. I definitely would not say that I reached enlightenment or anything close to that, but the quote served as a reminder for me that sometimes it’s less about what you’re doing and more about your perspective.
It’s no secret that making changes in your life, taking risks, immersing yourself in new places, different cultures, connecting with new people from different walks of life, and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, will undoubtedly expand your worldview, and change your perspective. So what parts of my perspective changed and how did it change the way I view the 9-5 desk job?
I saw first hand, constantly throughout my travels, how staggeringly difficult and unfair life could be and how lucky I was. I met so many people throughout my trip who have lived a lifetime of incredible adversity and looking into their eyes and seeing the strength that they muster to hold back an ocean of weariness, has fundamentally changed how I view my life.
I also witnessed so much of the exact opposite, how incredibly fortunate some people are. Yet many of them do not have the perspective to enjoy or recognize it.
I’ve gained the confidence to face uncertainty and make changes in my life. I’ve also internalized the fact that it brings me no joy to live my life maintaining a consistent and polished image of myself in other people’s minds. Whereas living my life how I want, exploring what I can and can’t do, and allowing myself to change as I see fit has brought me immense satisfaction and joy.
I now value practice much more than passion, and have internalized that transient passion isn’t as important as honed skill. While I was running my business, entrepreneurial ideas would fly into my head at random times. I would get so excited and passionate about it that I would spend the next 2 days planning out the entire strategy and execution of how I could turn that into a successful product. After I finished planning the passion would leave me as quickly as it came. Software engineering is not and has never been a ‘passion’ for me, but I’m good at it because I have years of practice and experience. Now I value that as way more important than the fleeting passions I have of building the Airbnb of book clubs or becoming a surf instructor.
I realized that reading quotes, learning about these ideas, reading advice on the internet isn’t going to do me any good, unless I try it out and discover these ideas for myself through my own first hand experiences. My perspectives changed not because I learned of these new ideas over the past 2 years, I had already known them, they changed because I lived and witnessed these concepts first hand over the past 2 years.
2 years ago, I did not have the perspective needed to see the point in what I was doing at my 9-5. I burnt out and I saw it only as: go to work, write code, repeat ad infinitum. Now I see going back to a full time job as:
- Honing a valuable skill that can open up a world of opportunities.
- Solidifying my financial independence.
- Networking and connecting with brilliant software engineers.
- Taking on a difficult challenge.
- Meeting new people.
- Growing, learning and expanding my perspective.
I can’t wait to get started and I’m equally curious to see how my new perspectives hold up in this next chapter of my story.
Thank you for reading, I hope you found it enjoyable or got something out of it, cheers.
- The banner image is a picture I took while I was in Nepal on the Everest Base Camp Trek of some of the highest mountains in the Himalayas during sunrise. November, 2018
- The first image is a picture I took of a log dyed by volcanic deposits while I was in Wai-O-Tapu, New Zealand - September, 2018.
- The second image is a picture I took of some flowers in a greenhouse during winter in Hakodate, Japan - January 2019.
- The third image is a picture I took of some flowers I saw in a public park in Shanghai, China - February 2019.