Avoiding cynicism

I mentioned this last week, but while I’ve been fixing formatting issues on my old blog posts, I’ve made the mistake of reading some of them. Getting a glimpse of me 20 years ago has been interesting – he was so angry, usually about work, and talked about it a lot.

That guy was on the verge of burnout every other week, and I think he was actually burned out quite a lot.

I’m not angry about work anymore. I was last really burned out over five years ago.

I think if I’d kept going the way I was headed back then, I’d be a cynical burned out husk. I haven’t read beyond the beginning of 2003 yet, but I can’t wait to see when the switch flipped (having a “coming attractions” for my own past is pretty weird).

If you asked me right now how I avoid being a cynical husk, I think it comes down to my rules for working:

  • Never miss a chance to celebrate. We’re confronted with failure so often at work, that we should celebrate every little win.
  • Focus on the who and the how. We don’t control what we work on most of the time, and pinning our self-worth to the success or failure of the things we work on is a recipe for sadness. So, I no longer really care what I work on. I care about enjoying the people I work with, and focus on how I work. I can control how I work more than I can any other part of it.
  • Compete only with yourself. I try not to compare myself to other people. I’ve got my challenges and other commitments, and I know nothing of theirs. So, I only compete against Past Me™️ – which also helps make sure I’m constantly improving, even if it’s just a little bit.

That’s not a lot of rules… but they work for me. I might change them…

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By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.