Over the past 20 years I've worked on interesting problems, delivered some great software, learned a bunch, and worked alongside bright people. And had fun. It's a fulfilling career. What has gone well is due to a little hard work and a lot of good fortune for which I'm grateful.
But now I'm taking some time off, maybe a month or two, maybe as much as six. It's my first sabbatical of sorts. (I'm still not sure sabbatical is the right word.)
So, why? I have three reasons.
- I want to sharpen up my tech skills. I didn't like the atrophy I was seeing. Management will do that to you -- at least it was doing it to me. Sure, you write a few little things (utilities, tests, page-long SQL queries) and go to code reviews, but that isn't the same as "real software." More importantly, the longer it's been since you've coded, the harder it is to just pick it back up.
- I want to explore technical areas that I didn't have time or an excuse to explore before. Mobile is the first example, there are more.
- I feel the need to put myself out there. Being part of teams is useful and gratifying, but you can hide in there too. I want to work on my own projects, not for ego, but for motivation. I am already out of my comfort zone.
I'm not looking for a career change. I like software engineering management. And I know that I'm a better manager than code-all-day hacker. This is about proficiency with the tools and branching out.
So it's been two weeks now: what have I gotten done?
- Took a vacation to Hawaii.
- Got my first toy iPhone app running.
- Made three dishes from my Indian cookbook (thanks for the pointer Devin).
- Wrote my first blog post.
- Made it through the DMV and lived to tell the tale.
The biggest change so far has been in my mindset. When I first considered this I had no clue what I'd do; now my "ideas" folder is chock-full and growing. It is creative and exhilarating.
That said, this is all still new and I'm figuring out the how's and the what's. If you have suggestions or advice I'd love to hear it.