I’m going to engineer myself

Happiness is an illusive goal.

When we’re young, we idolize the successful in our society.  They shine like a billboard advertising the good life that comes to those who follow a prescribed path through life– the path to material success.  We lust for the luxuries that seem to bring them so much joy– a fancy car, a big house, high class living.  Little do we know that beneath their public facade, our idols are as flawed as we are.  For many who’ve reached such levels of success, happiness still seems just out of reach.

Over time, our dreams of our younger selves make way for more realistic goals.  Perhaps making money becomes the goal, standing in as a surrogate for happiness.  After all– when we have ‘enough’ money, we’ll be happy (right?) so we must stay on the track to earning more and more of it, and spending more and more of it.

We spend the majority of our waking lives– 40, 50, 60, 80 hours a week working to earn money.  Because we spend such a large percentage of our time working, we pack our remaining free time full of dopamine-rush inducing spending sprees.  At some point, our original goals and dreams slip away all together, forgotten in the busy-ness of day-to-day responsibilities.

What do you really want out of your life, aside from just collecting money?  What really makes you happy?  Money can be a means to an end, but shouldn’t be the end in of itself.  Are you taking actionable steps today to reach your true goals?

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Hi there.  My name is Justin.  I’m 37 years old, and after 15 years in the work-force as a software engineer, I just quit my job and I don’t currently have plans to get another one.

Five years ago I started preparing for this day by beginning to funnel the majority of my income into savings and investments.  I’ll talk about the financial bits in future posts, but for now suffice it to say that this choice is not financial suicide– I’m prepared.

Perhaps it’s a mid-life crisis, but I feel as though I’ve been sleepwalking on a treadmill and it’s time to wake up and give my life a real direction.

I’ve been putting my time and energy into building good software products (which I do enjoy), but not enough time and energy into being a good human being.  I’ve been doing the same things day-in and day-out when there is such a diversity of experiences out there that I have not yet enjoyed.  I’ve been coasting on auto-pilot through a career towards eventual retirement without steering toward deliberate goals.

And so, today, I’m stopping engineering as a career, and focusing on engineering myself.

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