How I Destroyed Career Burnout as a Software Engineer

Author: Shane Larson
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The article is about the writer's experience with burnout as a software engineer. They initially loved their work but eventually became overwhelmed and considered leaving the field. However, they were able to overcome burnout by changing their mindset and making time for their own creativity. After going through this change, they rediscovered their passion for software engineering and their skills began to grow again. The article concludes by offering advice to others facing similar challenges in their careers.

When I first started my career as a software engineer, I was so excited about every project. I would stay up late working on web applications, learning new skills and leveling up my career. This period of my life was amazing. I created so many applications and completed so many projects. My income increased, and I started to become comfortable with my life as a software engineer.

Over time, things started to slow down. Many of the projects I worked on were becoming more and more complex, and office politics and bad habits in my lifestyle started to bring me to a place where I stopped loving what I do. I was growing any more. I wasn't learning new skills and after awhile, things started to change. I began to feel incredibly burned out, and stopped staying up late building cool apps. I even got to the point where I considered leaving Software Engineering entirely and going into a new field.

By changing my mindset, making time for my own creativity and rewarding myself, I was able to conquer burnout in my life and become productive again. After going through this change, I am pumped again on my career and creating new and useful applications. My skills are growing again, and I have completely destroyed the feelings of burnout. I would like to share with you how I did it, in case you might need this advice.

Change your mindset

One of the primary factors that was affecting my level of burnout was negativity. There is a song by a band called "The Death Set" that was once featured in a Google ad called "Negative Thinking Will Ruin Your Life". The song is so true! Negativity is a destroyer of everything that is good in the world. Don't get me wrong, a little healthy skepticism is useful, especially as a software engineer. But it is important to think positively most of the time, and to have a healthy positive outlook. This will go an incredibly long way to success in conquering burnout.

Before I turned things around, I was a a low point. Around that time that I was feeling the most burnout, it was also when I weighed the most. I had a bunch of bad habits that were sapping my energy and creativity. Software engineers, programmers and coders need to use their minds to do a great job. Things like eating bad foods, not exercising, binge watching movies and tv, smoking, drinking, and other habits will put a software into a position of working with one hand tied behind your back in terms of metal agility. So living a healthy lifestyle is key. Eliminate bad habits, eat foods that enrich your mind and body, and get some exercise!

Woman exercising on treadmill

A major factor that impacted me during Covid was the constant negative influence that I was seeing on social media and on television. It seemed like everyone was complaining about something. I got to the point where I literally told myself, "the world is ending, so why try any more?". This kind of negative influence will bring you down in a way that you cannot imagine. It will literally destroy your soul. I fixed this problem by staying away from any political news, podcasts about politics, and any sort of material that carries a negative connotation about the world. Anyone that I was spending time with that had a negative viewpoint towards life, I started to gravitate away from. Soon, I filled my mind with positive influences instead.

Have a reason to get up and grind

When I first started my career as a software engineer, I didn't know as much as I do now. Yet, I was so much more productive than I was at the point where my feelings of burnout were at their worst. I used to build apps and websites during my time just to learn how to do it! This is one of the keys to getting yourself out of burnout. Create things! Software engineers and programmers like to build stuff. if you are feeling stuck in your career, make something on your own time, even if its just for fun. You will quickly learn new skills and feel like you did something of value and are moving forward. Build on that feeling and create more and more until you regain your productive outlook!

Like plants in a garden, if you aren't growing then you are dying. So it's important to keep learning new things. For me, what I did was enroll in MIT Sloan School of Business and started taking some innovation courses. This worked for me to get my mind growing and making new connections again Take some online classes and bootcamps, enroll in grad school, and most of all, learn new things constantly! This will will make a major impact in your outlook, and give you a reason to get out of bed each day and conquer your burnout.

A few years ago, I went through another important transformation in my life when I went through the journey of getting myself out of debt. After that time, I decided that I wanted to use my skills as a software engineer in order to help other people do the same. This is why my new mission in life is to use technology to help people transform their financial lives and become more secure. Having a mission in life was important. It gives a person a guiding light that they can follow. If you develop your own personal mission and create goals for yourself that you actively pursue, it will help to conquer burnout in your career.

Treat yourself kindly, and reward yourself

When I was at the lowest point of my burnout, I decided to eliminate some bad habits from my life. I will not share too much about that, but one thing that was useful was to set goals for myself, and to reward myself in positive ways when I achieved them. Before, I would just buy something I wanted on Amazon without thinking about it. Now I use the things that I want in order to reward myself for achieving a goal that I have. For example, when I accomplished an important goal, I rewarded myself with a new laptop. This can be applied in may ways, if you put your mind to it. Setting goals and using incentives is one of the most powerful ways to escape burnout and move yourself forward.

When you are on a transformative journey, it can feel like a lonely place. It is very likely that nobody knows what you are going through and the positive changes you are making. So rather than seeking external validation for your success, you need to remember to pat yourself on the back when you do a good job, even if no one else knows what you accomplished . You deserve it.

If you treat yourself with respect, you will quickly realize that you are better than you think you are at writing code, creating applications, solving problems in business and more. It is important to use positive self-talk and remember that you are better than you realize you are. If you are getting up, thinking positively, setting goals for yourself , no matter how small, and achieving them you are a success! Don't forget that you are inherently a good person and be respectful towards yourself.

In conclusion, burnout is a common issue among software engineers and can be a major barrier to career growth and fulfillment. By being proactive and making changes to my mindset, habits, and work environment, I was able to overcome burnout and reignite my passion for software engineering. I hope that sharing my experience and advice can help others facing similar challenges in their careers.

Below are some tips for how to eliminate burnout in your career.

  • Change your mindset
    • Eliminate negativity
    • Live a healthy lifestyle
    • Surround yourself with positive influences
  • Have a reason to get up and grind
    • Create!
    • Take classes online or in person
    • Develop your own personal mission
  • Reward yourself
    • Set goals & reward yourself for achieving them
    • Pat yourself on the back
    • Treat yourself with respect

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