Just Leave: No job is worth burning out for – Noteworthy — The Journal Blog

Gewoon weggaan: geen enkele baan is de moeite waard om uit te branden

Een paar jaar geleden werkte ik de beste baan die ik ooit heb gehad, als een frontend ontwikkelaar bij een geweldig bureau in DC. Ik hield zo veel van die baan dat ik soms nog steeds thuiskom, denkend dat dit misschien wel de beste baan is die ik ooit zal hebben. Ik moest werken met fantastische, ongelooflijk slimme, gedreven mensen, en we produceerden indrukwekkend werk dat mensen aan het lachen bracht.

Het was ook een bureau - ik voel een paar knikkende weetjes in het publiek. Het bedrijfsleven was van nature cyclisch, waardoor elk jaar een paar periodes van intensief knallen van 18 uur per dag, 6 dagen per week plaatsvonden. Ik heb gedaan wat zoveel ontwikkelaars van bureaus vóór mij hebben gedaan, ik ben doorgebrand - hard - en vertrokken.

Dit is een verhaal over hoe Burnout een baan heeft vernietigd waar ik van hield, en hoewel het vertrek volledig was weggezogen, waarom het toch de juiste beslissing was, toch voor mij.


An awful lot of people hate their jobs, or at least feel “eh" and do what they gotta do to make ends meet. Many (most?) of us designers, developers, builders-of-things-with-code, whatever you want to call us, really like or even love what we do. It’s worth recognizing just how exceptionally rare and special that is. If you are indeed lucky enough to love what you do, that love should be jealously guarded, protected at all costs. It’s much more rare and precious than any individual job, and you must not let an employer put that passion at risk. Because for a lot of folks, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Forever.

If you are indeed lucky enough to love what you do, that love should be jealously guarded, protected at all costs.
Knifes n fires

In my experience, burnout is like a wound. Leave it and it’ll fester; it’ll get worse. Much, much worse. Let it rot long enough, and infection will eat away any passion you once had for the work you do. Once that happens, once the love of the work is dead, it’ll be hard to find any job you love. Taking this analogy one step further, leaving the job that’s burning you out is like cauterizing that wound; it’ll hurt like hell, you’ll feel worse, but as likely as not it’ll save you.

This brings us to the TLDR of this post:

Burning out? Burned out? Leave*. Just leave*. Don’t equivocate*. Don’t make a pros/cons list*. Refrain from all hand wringing*. Just. Fucking. Leave*.

* This puts glibness before broadness, and of course by no means applies to everyone. At the time I wasn’t supporting friends or family members, I didn’t have kids, I wasn’t caring for anyone sick, and I wasn’t financially insecure. This is me saying this worked for me, and might work for you. As with all advice, if our situations are different, liberal use of salt is recommended.


I didn’t want to leave this job, period. Turns out, I can be a stubborn, cranky old fuck when circumstances demand that I do something that I don’t want to do. It was the best job I’d ever had, dammit, and I wasn’t going to throw it away over little things like crippling depression, anxiety attacks and a boiling resentment for everything in my life.

Helaas voor mij, en eerlijk voor mijn collega's, mijn vrienden en mijn partner, bleef ik maanden achter elkaar nadat ik wist dat ik was opgebrand. Ik kon niet uit de neerwaartse spiraal trekken. Ondanks bewuste inspanning werd het niet beter; het werd erger. Veel, veel erger. Ik voelde mijn passie langzaam wegvloeien, beetje bij beetje. Ik voelde de gaten die achterbleven alsof je met je tong over een ontbrekende tand liep. Deze schade duurde ook bijna een heel jaar. Ik wilde niets maken, ik voelde me niet creatief; Ik voelde me verbitterd en bedrogen uit een van de beste dingen in mijn leven.


I did eventually float my way to a job with more stable hours, and despite everything it was still a gut wrenching decision. Leaving this agency gig was one of the hardest things I’ve done in my career, and I felt a weird combination of anguish and relief when it finally happened. At least the burnout would be gone and I could get back to loving what I do and making badass shit right? Nope.

My burnout followed me to my new job, got me off on the wrong foot, and I never really recovered to excel there. My reasons for departing this second job were complex and I won’t say I left because of my burnout, but I will say that my burnout definitely kept me mired in unhappiness and robbed me of my drive.

It wasn’t until about a full year after I burned out when I finally started to feel a light at the end of the tunnel. I met some incredibly talented and passionate folks at CSS Dev Conf and I was infected by their enthusiasm. I’m finally able to say I’m passionate about what I do again, but it isn’t exactly the same as it once was. Maybe it’s just the knowledge of how fragile something so fundamental to happiness is. Maybe I just never fully recovered, I honestly don’t know. Either way, I learned a painful lesson, and I’ll never let myself get burned out ever again. Even if that means leaving another job I truly love.

After a little while, I had enough space to really think about my experience with burnout. This experience taught me exactly how delicate passion can be. Love for what you do isn’t a blessing; it’s a tiny flame to be protected and nurtured. Dump too much wood on it and POOF; it’s gone. And just like starting a fire, building your passion back up again is like building a fire with no tinder. It’s fucking hard. Unless you know camping stuff I guess, but forest people are weird and ruin this amazing analogy.


Burnout is terrible because it erodes the love you have for what you do. It eats away at your passion, corrodes the specialness of your work, and dissolves your desire to keep pushing yourself. And what’s worse, that damage is cumulative. It lasts. Sometimes for a long time. If you’re lucky, you might be able to build your drive back up again, but the sense that it could all fall to pieces again never really goes away.

If you’re lucky enough to love what you do, and I hope you are, remember this: no job is worth burning out for. Repeat after me. No. Job. Is. Worth. Burning. Out. For. Doesn’t matter if it’s your dream job at your dream company. Burnout can and will torpedo not only the job you love, it’ll sink your very desire to do work you care about, and that damage will last a long time. Maybe even forever. It’ll turn an adventure of discovery (ugh, i know, sorry) into a long, inexorable death march.

Learn from my mistake. If you feel like you’re being sucked down into that pit, find a way to leave the job behind. If you don’t, you might be letting go of something much more rare, and much more special.


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