Hello Dear Readers,
I have a big announcement to make: I am leaving my current employer, what I like to call the Big Ol’ IT Company (BOITC) to work for another company that is famous for theme parks and talking mice. :-)
I’ve been with my old company for 9 years, and thanks to them, I had some great opportunities like living in Ireland, learning a lot of technology and good practices, etc. However, I’ve also become frustrated and have gradually feel less and less “connected” to my job and thus my performance has suffered. I tried to deal with this stress many different ways.
Over the years, I tried things like practicing Buddhist meditation and chanting, working more hours, learning new technologies and computer skills, or just disengaging from work by immersing in hobbies like Japanese/Korean language. All of these things helped temporarily, but only temporarily. For example, I used to meditate daily and it made me a nicer person, but I was a stressed-out, nicer person. ;-p
But now, I realize that I just wasn’t happy with my job. It was a good job: pays well, prestigious, great co-workers. I will miss my co-workers most of all. I enjoy technology, but I wasn’t excited about what I do at work. I didn’t take pride in it anymore. The pressure to continuously improve myself made me want to get away from technology, not embrace it. It made me feel guilty as an engineer.
I didn’t realize all this until I talked with friends who left the same company and told me they were much happier now. They had many of the same feelings of frustration and guilt that I did. But once they left, the feelings were gone.
So, I’ve finally taken a risk and moved to another company which I like better. The technology they use is more interesting to me, and I like their friendly, supportive work environment. I am excited about technology again!
Also, my wife and daughter like the new company I am working for, and are happy that I am moving. My wife seems relieved that I am changing jobs too. My salary will decrease a little bit as a result of this move, but I realized that more money wasn’t making me happier, so I am OK with this.
I don’t like talking about work on this blog, and after this post will probably not talk about it again, but there is an important lesson in all this: if you are unhappy, a change in environment may be the best solution.
I tried to deal with my problems in two ways: endure it more (i.e. work harder, improve my skills) and to disengage (Buddhist meditation, more non-work hobbies) but neither worked for me. They were both temporary solutions. They didn’t solve the root problem.1
This doesn’t mean that hobbies are bad, and Buddhist meditation is useless, or that improving skills is a waste of time. But by themselves, they’re not enough. Technology is great, but if you are pressured to learn it, you will learn just enough to avoid getting fired. You have to practice Buddhism in a healthy environment and for the right reasons, or it is not effective. The Buddha said much the same thing 2,500 years ago. Your environment matters!
The other lesson, I think, is: you don’t have to punish yourself.
The Buddha taught the Middle Way or chūdō (中道) for Japanese readers. Pleasure (楽) is unprofitable and undignified. Pain (苦) is pointless and stupid. Buddhism teaches how to go beyond both and find real peace and happiness. But first, you must stop punishing yourself.
As for me, I feel like Mr Gibbs from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: “I think I feel a change in the wind, says I.”
So, anyhow that’s my announcement. Thanks for reading. :)
P.S. Another reason to be happy about working for the new company: I am a big fan of Pirates of the Caribbean.
1 This is why I think Google’s promotion of Buddhist meditation is a joke: it just masks the real problem and makes people forget they work on a hyper-competitive environment. If people want real peace, they have to let go of ambition and live a simpler life. Honest poverty is superior to contention and greed. Honest poverty is something I aspire to someday.