Sabbaticals, Reflections, and Changes

   burnoutmeta

I've had a few versions of this post floating around for longer than I care to think about. What follows is something closer to what I'd started around the same time I was working on the "13 Years in the Valley" retrospectives. For some reason I thought I'd more directly stated just how bad the burnout was, but after looking back I apparently only had the conversation as fully and expressedly in my head.

So let's start the reflection part of this endevour.

Burnout is one of those things that's been written about a lot lately, particularly in the tech industry. If you're not familiar, the Wikipedia page on Occupational Burnout is a good overview of the subject. Dev.to also has a couple articles worth reading. While I've not quite hit Happy to be Here territory, Furiously Happy certainly had some chapters that resonated.

If I'm being completely honest, the warning signs were there in 2014. I may even get to some of that in a resumed rendition of retrospectives. In January 2016 I reached a point where I was at least willing to admit something was deeply wrong and find out just where I was at. So I took the Maslach Burnout Inventory and found the following results looking back at me:

…ouch.
…ouch.

I tried to work within the system, I tried counseling, and in the end it just wasn't getting better. In an ideal world I would have taken more regular time off, and I would have advocated for a more balanced life for myself, and recognized when the work environment was no longer healthy.

That would have been good then, so what to do now?

I remember a long time ago reading about how we should all take sabbaticals. At the time I read Joel's post I didn't really take it to heart. I'd just finished college, and was still only months into my brand new job. The idea that I could be so tired and run down that an extended time away was needed … I just couldn't comprehend it.

Now I get it. Time to take a sabbatical. December 15, 2017 I stepped down from full-time work and moved to a per-diem teaching position. The end of 14 years full-time work at Cape Fear Valley. Teaching was a nice way to keep up professionally, and get myself out of the house from time to time. Unfortunately, it was also still too much. So in June I quit completely.

To get ready for the sabbatical, in September 2017 I started working part-time at the local Music and Arts. I added the earnings to my current savings and pumped up what I was terming my "sabbatical fund".

Knowing that given my energy levels were what they were, I kept the job to make sure I'd get out of the house and actually engage in the time honored tradition of verbal communication with actual humans.

Jabba, illustrating my energy levels.
Jabba, illustrating my energy levels.

This is where the changes part was supposed to go, but I've run out of steam. Definitely to be finished before the month is up.

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