in Prose

S02E08: What’s next?

This week was massively abbreviated due to being on holiday for a week. My only day in the office was Friday, and that was mostly about emails.

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I also had to come clean to my colleagues and, here, to you. I handed in my notice. I will, quite soon, be leaving my job.

Preparing for your own succession is very strange, because it feels a bit like what I imagine planning your own funeral feels like. You know that everything else will go on without you, and the first reaction is a very selfish “Why?”. It’s only fleeting, but for a moment you feel irrationally annoyed that people will keep coming to work once you leave. Clients will keep calling. New business will roll in. Things will, for the most part, stay the same.

My first instinct is annoyance, because I am obviously the centre of the universe and if there isn’t forty days of mourning and mandated black clothing then really have I made any impact at all? If there’s no fuss, have I somehow failed?

Then you get the wonderful second thought that says: if everything falls apart the minute you leave, then you’ve done a terrible job. If people can’t cope; if the team can’t grow; if clients will abandon the company without you then you have made yourself invaluable. And that’s bad for you, because you’ll never be able to leave; and it’s bad for your team, because they’ll never grow without you.

I’m proud that when I leave in May, I’ll leave behind teams and people who are in a better, more positive, more powerful place.

In the meantime, there’ll be a job advert and interviews, all of which I’m really excited to take part in. The best part of leaving a job is that you can drop back in afterwards and see how it’s going. That’s a privilege that’s unfortunately not necessarily afforded to folks planning their funerals.⁰

I may need to omit these things from my weeknotes, because they’re naturally confidential and sensitive. Instead, I’ll be throwing in more from my MSc and from my side project.

Describing this service as niche probably gives it more credit than it deserves

My side project is something that’s been bubbling away under my brain for a while, and I’ve finally pulled my finger out and started to design it properly. I’ve written about it before, but it’s always really been an exercise to see if I could code the problem. Proofs of concept¹ do not a service make, so I’ve started developing a front end to interact with it.

It’s really hard, despite the fact that I’m mostly cheating on all design issues by using bootstrap. Working out what users need to be able to do is just as hard as working out how to write the code, and writing the code properly — rather than as an incomprehensible mess — is really darn hard.

So what about real work? Well, I’ve got three months before I leave for good, and enough squirrelled away that I can be careful about what I do next. I’m getting a better sense of what I like doing² and how I like working³. If you’re interested in hiring someone a bit like me, you might well be in luck. Drop me a line and let’s talk.

Like the person planning their funeral, I can’t say for certain what’s next. But — and I hope I’m still saying this when I do come to that long-awaited day — I’m really excited to find out.


⁰ This is of course a personal view. Depending on your spiritual outlook, you may be able to come back and affect things, come back and just watch over things, or come back as a totally different thing and affect other things entirely.

¹ I think that’s right. Proofs of concept? Proof of concepts? Proofs of concepts? English is a mess.

² Systems design, writing code, solving problems, coaching, mentoring

³ With autonomy, with responsibility for developing others, with freedom

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