Why I Miss Having A Full-Time Job

And it's not for the reasons you think

When I had a full-time job, there were a few perks that I never noticed until now. I’m not referring to the obvious ones like money or benefits; I’m referring to the creative and positive psychological effects it had on me and my personal side projects.

It gave me a chance to reset.

When you’re stuck on a problem, the first thing you would do is step away. Step away from the problem and do anything to take your conscious mind off it and let it simmer in your subconscious. Doing this doesn’t guarantee a solution when you come back but it gives your brain a chance to think through it more clearly and at the very least allows you to come back with fresh eyes. Going to work everyday, 5 days a week did this for me and my side projects. Not only when I had problems to solve but just giving me the opportunity to always take a step back and return with a fresh perspective. I've also had so many breakthroughs while in transit to work or anywhere really, it's kind of ridiculous how effective you can be on a train.

I was more creative.

Getting a chance to reset also fed directly into my creativity. So did being around other amazing and talented designers and developers. Even though the things I built and the approaches used on my side projects were different from what I did at work, it was the culmination of having these varying level of experiences that I personally believe fed into my creativity cup. The more things I tried and learned, the more questions I asked and the more critiques I received at work, the more I improved at not just work but on my side projects too. I found myself pushing the limits more in both my job and my side projects.

I became a better developer.

I didn’t just become more creative, I also found myself making better dev decisions. Since I'm self taught, I’ve typically made decisions based on what worked and not always what resulted in better code. I won’t lie, I’m still guilty of that when it comes to certain parts of the code but I’ve definitely seen myself improve the way I build solo because of how I’ve learned to build alongside others. Working alongside designers and developers who care deeply about the code they write gave me an opportunity to develop that care as well. Almost every project I've coded was always a littler bit better than the last one and of that, I’m proud.

So, how do I get these perks back?

I was never really aware of these "perks" until I started working for myself and by myself at home. Now that my side projects are not just on the side anymore and they are now my "9-5", I can't help but wonder how I can get these perks again. While I don’t think I need to get another job, I am working on recreating it in other ways:

  • I plan to work outside of my apartment at least 1 day a week or until I can afford to do it more often.
  • Have more experiences that stimulate the creative mind and allow me to reset like working out, going to events, museums or just hanging out with friends.
  • Continue to ask questions, learn and discover new things and get feedback on my work.
  • I’m also testing a theory by doing 2 projects of varying levels of complexity at the same time to see what effect they would have on me and each other. 

The goal here is to keep my days and weeks interesting. If my brain gets a healthy balance of different things throughout the day and week, I hope to continue to grow creatively and look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes more frequently.

TLDR; Even if you may not want to be in a "9-5" right now, it’s helping you more than you think.

Do it with passion or not at all,
– Kim Goulbourne aka “Bourn”

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