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14yrs experience, Now it bores me.

Anyone else here been at it for a long time and starting to not care for it anymore?

Thing is, I'm 42, and to be honest, it's just plain dull now.

I've spent the last 9 years writing C, C++ apps, I've spent the last 3 months ramping up on the C# stuff, at my employers expense,  I know more about it than anybody else on my team, the company is looking to me to deliver the goods on a proposed $US800K
development, team leader of a team of 12, and you know what? Despite the pay rise I just got, I cant be bothered. Plus I've just had a 4 week vacation.

Anybody else here been at it for 10+ years?

What motivates you now?

Is'nt it all just the same thing, over and over?

Tony
Friday, March 22, 2002

nearly 14 years experience.

Started feeling bored around the 10 year mark. Still get the occasional period where the work doesn't interest me. I'm doing contract work rather than working for one single company. It helps to vary the work. Inbetween the contracts, I'm developing my own stuff which is a lot more interesting.

Michael Butler
Friday, March 22, 2002

my experience is very few people work in jobs they have passions for anyhow. if you can get 10 years out of a job-that's not bad. 

Razib Khan
Friday, March 22, 2002

I guess when you're younger and starting out you've got a rose-tinted spectales view on working life and as you get older and (dare I say it) wiser, you become more realistic. And for most people, it's a job, and having to work for a living is never going to be ideal at the best of times. You're not going to single-handedly change the world by writing code (well, not most people).

Come on, even being a test pilot can get pretty dull after a few years of flying planes around...

John C
Friday, March 22, 2002

I wonder what you're counting as experience - doing it for a living, or doing it?

I've been programming for nearly 20 years, for a living for about 10 of them.  I feel like I'm just getting started.  There are projects I want to embark on that I think would be really nifty; they'd either sell like crazy, or at least give me some wonderful insights into my chosen trade.

I suspect that if I were doing nothing more than assembling IT architectures for midsize companies, or building web apps, or being a program manager, orsomething like that, I might find it dull, too.  How about trying a new subarea within computers?  Try to find a job writing a different kind of software.  Particularly something fun.  A game company, perhaps.

Paul Brinkley
Friday, March 22, 2002

Believe not those that would tell you that the feelings you are having normal, natural, and should be ignored.

Carpe every diem.

A.
Friday, March 22, 2002

I've been at it for 13 years.  7 of it mainly in embedded realtime, 4 years in the Microsoft camp at the low-level side, and for the past 2 1/2 years I am discovering the world of web and data access on my own expense.  I think you don't get bored if you are learning/discovering something new.  Of course as you get older and more "simmered", the likelihood of your learning something new (and not stupid) grows dimmer.  Just don't expect to be as enamoured with programming as your first 3 years of starting out.

Hoang Do
Friday, March 22, 2002

14 years professional experience but been programming computers for 20 years. (And I'm still only 30)

Michael Butler
Friday, March 22, 2002

Until recently I was beginning to think the same thing, after around 23 years experience.  Now though I have a new paying project, new people and its not so bad.

Simon Lucy
Friday, March 22, 2002

I had the same experience about 4 years back and decided to quit my day job (after 10 years) and go to school studying music instead. At the same time I started doing consulting work on the side to pay for the bills. The fact that I didn't spend my entire day during that period thinking about software helped a lot, and I came out ready to start fresh in the software business again.

I don't know if there's any cure for not being motivated after coming back from a vacation. It's always harder to get back to work after taking days off.

B
Friday, March 22, 2002

The others here may be bored, or may not. Don't ask them if you should or shouldn't be bored! If you're bored, change something. Pick a different project. Go back to school, become a hardware engineer. Become a janitor and code OSS projects in your spare time. Whatever! What worked for the rest of us may or may not work for you: if YOU like it, that's what matters! And ditto if you don't like it.

Mike Swieton
Friday, March 22, 2002

I think that someof the questions you need to ask is why do you find it dull now, and what did you find exciting about it before?

For myself, I have found that part of the problem is that I no longer feel technically challenged by some of the projects that I am working on.  Many of the new projects I approach can be solved using variations on things I have done in the past so it isn't really a stretch to accomplish them anymore.  I still spend time looking at new concepts and tools, but they no longer have the same excitement or wow-factor associated with them.  Where once it might have been a brand new concept, it is now just a variation on a theme.  The amount of truly new things I am learning is dropping off.

To combat this, I have tried looking at changing problem domains.  While this hasn't made the development side any more exciting, it has given me the opportunity to continue learning and face new problems.  Of course, if you started off in a fairly complex domain, it can be hard to find other domains that will maintain your interest for long.

At the end of the day, it is a matter of doing the same thing over and over.  As a developer, your job is to find an optimal solution (or perhaps just a workable solution) to a problem.  If you solve enough of these problems, you will see the patterns in them and the challenge will fade.  My only advice is to try to find distinctly different problems which require you to divine new patterns.

!
Friday, March 22, 2002

Depending on how you count, I've been at it for 13-17 years.  I definitely feel that I've gone through a transition during that time in how I motivate myself.  The first several years it was all about learning new stuff - from GUIs to networks to kernels and on and on.  Each job was new and exciting.  Then everything started to blur together, and I found I was getting bored, so I decided to start going for depth instead of breadth.  I found some unsolved problems that touched on several of the areas I'd worked in, and started working on solving them.  Learning from other people has been replaced by learning what *nobody* knows, not just in an ivory-tower research sense by also in the sense of figuring out what it takes to turn those ivory-tower ideas into practical commercial reality.

In general, "living on the frontier" keeps me pretty motivated, but sometimes I still find myself in the doldrums.  That's when I go off to find some kind of programming that's so far from what I work on "during the day" (global-scale data distribution and storage) that it's like being a kid again.  For a while it was Python and Java GUI stuff, then I twiddled around on some PalmOS stuff, more recently it's been PHP junk on the web.  I'll never make my living at any of those things (though I now know I could, and easily) but it's like cross-training for my mind.  The change of pace leaves me feeling both more refreshed and more in touch with the programming mainstream, and then I can go back to doing my "real work" with a renewed sense of purpose.

Obviously there are problems with this approach, from finding an employer willing to get behind my weird little agenda to steering  through the political shoals to feeling totally lost at sea sometimes, but despite all that it works for me.  YMMV.

Jeff Darcy
Friday, March 22, 2002

Tony,
Dont throw in the towel just yet.
You've done C++ for 10 years in a row.
Try something new.
You have'nt yet exhausted yourself.

After a few reinventions of yourself, THEN you can say.  "ho hum, new language, new this, new that...same old same old...."

Bella
Friday, March 22, 2002

I wrote my first program back in the 60's. I've been earning my living as a programmer for more than 20 years. I find that these feelings come and go. One of the reasons I've been with the same small company for 16 years now is that I get a variety of things to do (I work in the embedded software field, and get to do real-time software, compiler work, communications protocol design, custom applications in various languages, and so on). Another is that management and my coworkers appreciate me. I never got that feeling when I worked at a larger company.

Still, some days I don't want to go to work. Other times I take work home. It depends upon how much what I'm doing interests (better yet, fascinates) me.

If you're disenchanted with what you're doing, look to do something else. You might find that having a project at home, such as working on one of the many open-source development efforts, would be enough to get you interested again.

Different tasks provide new insights that can be useful elsewhere. Learning the math behind the 3-D operations in a graphics package or game may let you say, "Hey, I could apply <x> to this problem at work." Maybe not. Personally, I find that 3-D code has very little applicability to the code I've written for PIC12C508s (25 bytes RAM, 512 instructions total).

If you've already tried that and it doesn't work for you, then try a hobby that's unrelated to programming. Music seems fairly common - I have a friend who's in two bands, besides his normal day job. Another plays piano, and yet another plays harp. I play banjo in a weekly bluegrass jam session, and I go ballroom dancing - it's good exercise, and I don't have the knees for martial arts anymore.

If you're truly burned out on programming, figure out what else you can do to earn a living. This week, the local newpaper wrote about a woman who now works as a waitress, after working in a dot-com company. She said that she likes having a job where at least once or twice a day, someone says, "Thank you" to her.

Steve Wheeler
Friday, March 22, 2002

Hmm. Or you can start a website & a startup company and become a guru whose message board is filled with people like us.

Mark W
Friday, March 22, 2002

Are you bored by the application that you are building? I would be bored by 'yet another corporate table editing application' but the possibilities of the net are only beginning to be realized. This is exciting to me. The programming is exciting proportionate to the application for me.

Do you have ideas for applications burning iside? I have many....focusing on just one is my biggest problem.  And I still (after 10 years) love learing new languages/technologies...at my own expense.  Programming (along with music) is still the hobby it was before I started doing it professionally.

Dan Sickles
Friday, March 22, 2002

and one of these days I'll lear english.

Dan Sickles
Friday, March 22, 2002

Play piano?  LOL    I leave the house at 7am, and get home at 9pm.  I barely have time to shit, let alone learn a fucking instrument.

Bella
Friday, March 22, 2002

i've been at it for 10+ years.

motivation: money

It is just the same thing over and over.

My dad's a doctor, he delivers babies. He looks at women's crotches and witnesses the miracle of life on a first hand basis, every day. He told me that it gets boring.

the thing is, if you are good at something, people pay you to do it over and over again. that's what experts do. the solution to your boredom is to charge 10 times as much money as you do now.

chunks
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Thank you all for the responses - I am not alone.
My enthusiasm was meant to increase as I moved from C++ to vb.net (company decision - I wanted c# but lost the battle).

In the end I think I just need more sex.

Just joking - I enjoyed the responses, I think ultimately I'm sick of "corporate" software and need to do something a little different.

Cheers

Tony
Saturday, March 23, 2002

<deep spiritual stuff I write at 4 in the morning>

I believe that the meaning of life is to convince yourself that your life has meaning. Very existentialist, I know. The Dhalia Lama says that the meaning of life is to be happy.

I have very specific views on art and work, and you'll find them sprinkled throughout this forum, as well as any other place I'm allowed to express myself freely and the topic comes up. I write about it on my website even when the topic doesn't come up. =) Now all I need to do is install discusion software and everyone can tell me how stuck up I am. =)

(note smiley faces, meant as a fun comment)

Basically, on one hand, you have to be practical and take care of your finances, which includes going to work from 9-5, making sure you have enough to retire on, and live within your means (i.e. don't run up credit card debt).

On the other hand you have you realize that all of this work is a means to an end, and it's your life not your work that's ultimately important. As a guy with a 9-5 job and as a musician, I believe it's important not to "send your artist to work" and expect to get paid for what you love.

I think it's the rare person who is honest enough with him/herself about finance, desires, and everything else that they can be really fulfilled and get paid to do it.

Of course, I also think that being fulfilled is an illusion, but it would have to be 5 am for me to go there.

</ dissertation on the meaninglessness of life>

Mark W
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Tony,

So you'll get to learn VB, cool.  Have you done much GUI app dev?  You may find it a nice change. 

Do you like the mgmt side?  Maybe you can focus more on that, and spec out the entire project, design docs, meet with users, etc?

Have you done a lot of DB tasks?  Maybe get more into the database side?  Design the data model, etc...Maybe learn some DBA skills...

etc,,,,there's a lot of room to mix things up, within a project....

Good luck,

And if those dont work, take every cent you have, and  put it all on RED...

Bella
Saturday, March 23, 2002

Bella - what you said about putting it all on Red is quite funny right now.

Last week my wife and I went to the casino (2nd time for me, 1st time for her, boy is that a sad place) and we played roulette and put $5 a time on red - can you believe that black came up 9 times in a row, i.e we lost $45.

So I think you meant to say, put it all on black.

Tony
Saturday, March 23, 2002

For me - the change is a key. I have 12 year of experience and stilllearning. Here is what I did (in historic sequence):
- C++ programming
- FoxPro, PowerBuilder programming
- Delphi 1 programming
- Oracle DB maintainence in HP clisters.
- Shell, Perl, TCL/TK programming
- Delphi 3 programming
- System Architect
- Software Project Management
And I still have many things to learn and 4 books I have to read.

When man said "I have 9 years of experience" - it usually mean 1 year experience applied 9 times. (Jim Rhon)

So change your focus and learn new things. And since this requires energy - don't work longer. Work smarter.

Roman Eremin
Sunday, March 24, 2002

Good point, Roman.  Learning something new takes ENERGY and time.  Usually overtime.  When you're in a comfortable predictable groove, like Tony seems to have been (C++ for 10 years) it takes a lot of motivation to disrupt that. 

Hence, why so many programmers get into a rut, and wake up finding that they've been maintainting AS/400 apps for 10 years, and can't find another job.  This of course, leads to the age discrimination scapegoat, but thats another story. 

Bella
Sunday, March 24, 2002

15 years hard labour (so far), and I won't get any time off for good behaviour.

Even 3 or 4 years I start to flag, and can feel myself sinking into that rut, and months can go by without me waking up feeling excited about a problem that I'm trying to solve.

Then I force myself to free up at least 50% of my time (by inflating estimates for managers as they really dont like reflection time) and wander around the building (2000+ employees) to see what the 'real' people are doing.

After a week of doing this, I can always find a 'new' project to work on that gets my blood flowing again.

Of coure then I need to get 'permission' to do the work, and thats another story.

Chris McEvoy
Monday, March 25, 2002

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