Working too hard

What I’ve been up to

If you haven’t seen me in the past few months there’s been a reason. I got invested into the idea of a promotion at work. I’m currently a “Senior Software Engineer” which is considered a “terminal” level for Software Engineers. It means you’re smart, effective, and can build things. Many people will never make it past this in their career. The next level is “Staff Engineer”. It could be a completely separate blog post about what the difference is but let’s just say I was curious and decided to work hard for it. I talked about this in 2018 resolutions, I was curious about how to level up as a software engineer.

So I worked hard and I built a lot. I put projects on my team’s roadmap even if they didn’t work. I helped other teams launch massive revamps inside the Lyft app. This was pretty cool. Unfortunately, this also meant that I was super busy. I think I had this idea that I could do it all and I ended up just burning myself out. I thought that was what I needed to do for a promotion.

I became one of the worst things that I thought I would never do. Someone who works too hard at their job. Gahhhhhhhhhhhh, fuck me. It’s the worst, it slowly creeps up on you. Just one week you’ll be like: if I work this one night I’ll be so ahead! And you do, then a few weeks later you realize you’re behind and you do another night. Then another, then another, then it becomes a bit more regular. I accomplished a lot but I HAD DREAMS ABOUT WORK. What the fuck, my shower thoughts went into weird questions about how to interact with design and program managers. This was the absolute worse.

Good News

Now here’s the best/worst part. All that work? All that extra time to get into things wasn’t even on track toward a promotion. Blah blah, there’s some things about the details about it but effectively it wasn’t worth it. During this time I was so frustrated and it came out in meetings as being super defensive about engineering time.

So first good news: I’ve learned that I have all the technical skills to level up. I’m smart, I’m thoughtful about engineering, I’m not an expert but I can at least talk my way through a problem well. But! I need to work on my communication skills. One thing that was really useful was reading a book called “Never Split the Difference”. It’s a book about negotiating from an FBI Hostage negotiator. And the one thing I’ve picked up from that book is that I’m not really a “analytical” negotiator like I always thought but a very aggressive one. It’s dumb that I didn’t figure it out.

Second good news! I put in notice on my team, I’ll be swapping out at Lyft to a team that has interesting product problems but less platform problems. I’ll be working on the Insurance / Trust & Safety team. So half my work will probably be on reducing costs for claims and the other half will be trying to make Lyft safer for everybody. Which is really just hard problems involving balancing acts between what’s the best move for everyone involved. Hopefully it’s fun and interesting exercises in work. I have very little knowledge of how their roadmap will evolve but I’m excited to work on it. More importantly, I’m more than willing to delay something now if it means working nights.

I’m sure many of you have already done this, but this is the first time in almost 10 years of working that I fell into this “Work long hours at the company you’re working for” trap. Oops.

Next Things

But you’ll see more of me and more stupid ideas I have for dinners and other things. With a less emphasis on work I’m going to start focusing on my other resolutions. We’ll see how things go. Currently working my way through the Great British Bake off.