Life is too short to do a job you loathe

Posted on Posted in Everything, Software Testing

I’ve been busy lately. In a good way, at long last.
I recently started at a new company and have been flat out getting acquainted with how the new place is put together. I have to say – I am loving the new role. I know when I turn up that before the day is done I will have learned something new or I will have made a positive difference somewhere – usually both.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. I’m not a big fan of bitching about ex-employers (and doing so is not the point of this post), but I feel compelled to point out some of the things that have struck me as I shift into this new role.

I did not enjoy working at my previous place of engagement. It’s a shame to say, because some of the people I worked with were very smart andvery talented. Unfortunately the company seemed designed to make any change a herculean effort. I’d be hard pressed to purposely design a more inefficient way of working. I’m not going to give you a laundry list of specifics (though I could). Suffice it to say that there were uphill battles to be fought on pretty much any front you turned to.

I should have seen the writing on the wall. I remember thinking two weeks in ‘Can I really bring myself to care about this company enough to stay and do what needs to be done?’ Still, I was optimistic. I had come from a job where I’d been more successful than I could have hoped and like Alexander before me, I was going to cut through bureaucratic Giordian knots and lead the way to a shining future of efficient development, clean code, strong inter-team relationships excellent configuration and change management, not to mention a kick-arse testing group.

Sadly I acheived none of that. I decided I’d stick it out for 2 years and see how much change I could make. Maybe it was like turning an ocean liner around. Once you got past the momentum built in one direction, surely change would come more quickly. Nope. Didn’t happen. What’s worse is I found myself conforming. Keeping my head down. Not saying anything when I should have made a stand.

As the two-year mark rapidly approached, I had what some substance abusers call a moment of clarity. I was ashamed at my behaviour. If my peers saw me behaving like this, they would not be proud. Far from me making that place better, I had allowed myself to become worse. I decided it was time to leave.

No sooner had I made the decision, an email came out of the blue. A guy emailed me, said he’d read my blog and wanted to have a chat about testing over lunch. He worked a few train stations away and hey, I’ll talk about testing all day if you buy me lunch so I was all for it.  I happened to mention during the meal that my current contract was almost up. One thing led to another and I found myself with an offer from a company that looked to me very much like it was doing things that I wanted to be a part of.

Long story short, I’m now working at said company with a bunch of super smart people doing work that I think makes a positive difference in the world. I like the work that I do and perhaps the most importantly I am myself again. I work and think and act from a place of integrity and I can see that the people I work with do the same.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is life is just too bloody short to work in a job that makes you miserable. Not only is it time you will regret never being able to get back, but you may not like the person you become. No amount of money is worth that.

If you find yourself looking at the clock wishing it would tick faster, if you wonder why you’re doing what you do when nothing seems to change, if late on Sunday afternoon when the prospect of work tomorrow makes you die a little bit inside – your place is no longer there (if it ever was).

I’m not saying ‘quit your job tomorrow’, but if you’re stuck in a work situation like this, do everything in your power to find something that is more you. There is something better out there. Go find it. Please.

http://smart.fm

9 thoughts on “Life is too short to do a job you loathe

  1. Nice story – hope it all works out for you at the new place

    ( and shows how useful having a blog is )

    Congrats again on the new job – hope it provides some good blog material

  2. Cheers Phil.
    So far so good. It’s keeping me busy, but hopefully not to busy to write.
    I’m going to try and put in a few experiential reports and some tech stuff around selenium and ruby, though Adam Goucher seems to have that well covered 🙂

  3. Hi Ben,

    Excellent post and so glad you’ve made the best decision for you. There’s simply no point plodding along in an environment where motivation and creativity are being stifled. Good luck with your new venture.

    Rob..

    [BK – Thanks Rob. Much appreciated.]

  4. Hi Ben,

    reading this post, makes me remember why I started my own company.
    It doesn’t even depend on Enterprise- or StartUp- sized environments, it really is about having a hard time participating.

    Thanks and good luck!

    [BK – Hi Jan,
    I think you’re probably right about that. There’s a big difference between putting effort into your work and putting in effort in order to be able to work at all.
    ]

  5. Hi Ben,

    This was a very good read & highlights how some companies are unwilling to learn and adapt new approaches. Like wise the same can be said for their view of testing, I’ve spoken to a few people who have been very unhappy with their managements unwillingness to listen, or to listen but then ignore it.

    Thankfully I found myself in a very good company at the first attempt, as I read more and more of others experiences I’m very thankful to be here.

    Nice post & all the best in your new role.

    Darren.

    [BK – Thanks Darren.
    This experience really brought home the lesson that you can’t help people that don’t want it. I really feel for people who get into the industry and have this sort of experience as their first taste of testing. I’m sure it discourages people who might otherwise become excellent testers.
    I’m glad you’re in a good spot.
    ]

  6. So, you seem to be living what Gary Vee espouses!

    [BK – G’day Pard.
    Yeah, not sure if I’m Crushing It exactly, but I’m doing what I love in an environment that is healthy. The world seems full of possibilities again. Now if I could only find a bit more time to get into the kendojo, all would be well 🙂
    ]

  7. Ben,

    Great post. I share your sentiment, appreciate your honesty, and admire your accomplishment. I had a conversation with another tester just today who is quickly coming to the same conclusion you did. I hope her next move is as smooth and rewarding for her as your transition has been for you.

    Justin

    [BK – G’day Justin,
    I appreciate the feedback. I hope things go well for her too. If nothing else, her experience will give her a bunch of tell-tale warning signs to look for when hunting for her next opportunity.
    ]

  8. Hi Ben,

    Looks like i am struck in a company like you mention in the post.

    >>No amount of money is worth that.

    Not sure if this is true in my case, but point taken.

    Peaceatwork

    [BK – Sorry to hear that. As for the money, it’s seductive. I suspect it’s one of the reasons I didn’t notice myself sliding in other areas. If you can keep your integrity and your sense of self intact in a sick system, then more power to you, man. I wasn’t able to, so I had to leave.]

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