Ask HN: Tips to relearn how to care about my job?

The reality is I can’t quit my job given I’m young and live in California. I got a high paying job at a recognizable tech company, but plagued with exhaustion and lack of motivation, which is killing me daily life. Anything you guys have done to dig out of a rut?

I’m taking an electrical engineering class and exploitation security class online. I’m constantly learning, which I love. I work on a product which just clones other similar products with a slightly better price point, so it’s hard to really care about the goal, but it would be nice to shift that mentality slightly.

I think long term I want to work on low level systems, but my current mental state is affecting my ability to learn effectively. Maybe therapy could help.

2 days
by whitepirate20


2 days

> Maybe therapy could help.

Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

You’re beginning that existential question of what matters to you and what you want to spend your time doing. As soon as you do that, uncertainty will creep into far more than just your work.

You chased the golden dream, now you “have it” and are near the top given your nice high salary. You’re not at the absolute tippy top, but you’re closer to the summit than at the base of the mountain.

Congrats, your Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is mostly met and now you’re getting mildly philosophical about your life and work.

It sounds like you’re in a state where you’ve learned to grind. It paid off, now you’re trying to keep up the pace by continuing learning to eek out that last bit of performance from your engine as you speed along.

I was there too. Voracious learning felt like I was building, finding my niche, but I was bored with what I did at work.

The solution is to go to therapy and discuss this problem directly with them. Explain how what you have put all this time into is now boring you, you feel the need to change, but are unsure how to. You want to stay motivated.

Get ready for a big change. You’re about to uncover topics like burn out, depression, expectations for life, building meaningful and fulfilling relationships… this is the meaning of life stuff.

Possibly, you’re putting too much weight of importance on your job. You may be letting it define you.

You’ll need to process all this and more. It’s going to take time. I suggest therapy so you don’t end up in the deep pot holes I did before I decided to eventually start talking to someone about the uncertainties in my life and how I handle them.

Good luck, this is a big topic you’ve just opened up for yourself.

2 days

>Possibly, you’re putting too much weight of importance on your job. You may be letting it define you.


I would caution in response to the original question that the answer might be that you shouldn't relearn to care about your job, and maybe just continue to treat it like a job.

OP if you're with Kaiser then you can self-refer to their psychiatric care unit and they'll give you 7 sessions with a councilor. From there you can decide what you want to do. There's a round of testing for ADHD, depression and anxiety. I'm going through this myself now.

2 days

I want to second this. Therapy is a great way to learn how to navigate personal change.

There is no shame in this. Think of it as hiring a personal trainer. Like everything else, self-improvement is a skill. :)

2 days

how patronizing

you'll get out of your rut, OP. it's normal to not like your job.

1 day

OP asked a direct question. It is not patronizing to answer that question from experience.

2 days

It sounds like you're burned out. Take a vacation ASAP. Take that time to rest. Beyond vacations, make sure you take one day/week where you rest - actually rest. Eschew productivity on that day. This was called sabbath in the past and was connected with religion, but there's much to learn from that tradition of a weekly rhythm of rest to create a secular sabbath. Disconnect - turn off the phone, get away from screens, no social media. Get outside in nature. Hike, bike, row, etc. Let your mind wander. After you feel like you've entered that rested state for while, take some time to reassess your situation.

It's good that you're taking classes and are constantly learning, but consider that in this season of burnout those (vocationally related) activities could be contributing to the problem.

2 days

>Take a vacation ASAP.

Not as a specific reaction to burnout but in the past I've taken 3 to 4 week trips (often group trips) where I've largely disconnected. Takes more discipline to do that now most places than it used to be but can be a total change of pace. What type of trip of course depends on what sort of thing interests you. Take a look at something like the Wilderness Travel catalog to get an idea for the options out there. (Are many such companies but I've had good luck with them.)

2 days

In this case, they're bored more than they're overworked. Trying to find more meaning within their day job may be more effective than completely cutting off. Sometimes working harder but on a more meaningful project could reverse a burnout faster than avoiding the problem.

2 days

> bored more than they're overworked

They state outright that they’re exhausted. Lots of us get bored and lose the sense of value we felt when we’re overextended. Even when we apply ourselves harder. Often the first symptomatic recognition of burnout is loss or deteriorating interest.

2 days

Firstly, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Beyond the Great Recession and the Great Resignation, i firmly believe i'm beginning to see the Great Malaise everywhere! Its not just here about jobs/careers, but many places that i look, and with many people that i speak.

With that out of the way, and at risk to your cognitive load (by adding something else to your life), have you considered taking up a hobby/interest that is unrelated to your profession, and unrelated to the EE and Sec. learning that you're doing? It might sound silly, but maybe you need to activate other parts of your brain - hence a hobby might do the trick. Alternatively, if you want to dive into your learning path...have you considered contributing your time or code, etc. to an open source project that is aligned with your security learning? This could get you some real-world experience in security, enable you to connect with a network of people for future (hopefully more fulfilling) job, help you feel good about donating time to some open source goodness...and ultimately distract you from your least until you're ready to jump. ;-)

2 days

> i firmly believe i'm beginning to see the Great Malaise everywhere!

Indeed. It's in the air. I think we underestimate the trauma of living through a pandemic for the last couple of years. There's a collective, societal trauma that we're witnessing. It's causing people to rethink what they value as well as leading to upheaval in various spheres (personal, cultural, political...)

2 days

I could not have said it better myself; fully agreed!

2 days

You don't have to care about your job. Most people have about four good hours of work in them. Just do your four hours, and take the rest of the day off. No job is worth burnout.

2 days

> You don't have to care about your job. Most people have about four good hours of work in them. Just do your four hours, and take the rest of the day off.

OP says they're young and recently got a high-paying job at a recognizable California company. This isn't good advice.

Working half days every day may work for certain senior people in slow moving parts of a company. However, getting a high-paying job in California at a big-tech company and then putting in half days will get you PIPed and removed really quick.

2 days

Sounds like your typical sweatshop.

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Or find something to work on that you actually care about. I don't have any trouble working on something for 12 hours a day when I find it intrinsically interesting and meaningful.

2 days

Watch that. Doesn't always work. Not everyone you will work with loves what you love or gives as much of a shit about it as you do. And it's painful watching them fuck it up day after day after day. Eventually you end up disliking it by proxy.

I'm also a weirdo. I intensely dislike what I do for a living but I'm good at it and the money is pretty excellent. And I hate it enough to want to do a quality job of it and automate as much of it as possible so I can do something more interesting with my time instead.

2 days

> And I hate it enough to want to do a quality job of it and automate as much of it as possible so I can do something more interesting with my time instead.

How does this work in a full time job where you hate what you are doing? When you automate something, you're not freeing up time to do whatever you want. You're just freeing up time to do more of what you don't like, isn't it?

2 days

Only if you make the automation public. Plenty of data input guys didn't mention they automated their job and raked in a full FTE working a few hours a week.

Doesn't work as well these days since most knowledge gets shared and a lot of devs are too eager to reveal their cards.

2 days

No comment :)

2 days

No matter how much you love it, 12 hours a day will never be healthy long term. This is what pro level athletes do to compete and get into the Olympics and they regularly burn out after a few years of it.

I strongly urge you to take the time to establish a long term pace that will allow you to regularly decompress from work, learning, and stress every single day as well as whole “step-away” moments for weeks at a time to allow you to completely disconnect at regular intervals throughout the year.

Based on your description, you’re young and your youth is powering this ability to keep going. Even if you take perfect care of your health, this energy will decline with age, more health complications will arise merely by being older, life will put more expectations on you, or conversely, a lack of life due to grinding too hard professionally will bring depression and loneliness.

Think carefully about how maintainable your perspective on work and life is for what will be at minimum the next 20 years.

Stay safe and take care of yourself.

2 days

> This is what pro level athletes do to compete and get into the Olympics and they regularly burn out after a few years of it.

I believe this is a myth. Excercising for 12 hours a day is not the best strategy to get your body and mind in shape for the Olympics. Internet sources claim that Olympics athletes train 5-7 hours a day. Pro football (soccer) players at top level, with absolutely insane amount of competition constantly breathing down their necks, usually train from morning till lunch and that's it. Doing more would only do harm.

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Oh I know it’s a myth, you’re not wrong. I was simply using the myth we keep hearing as a foil for how bad an idea this is. It’s a perfect example of imbalance that results in burn out.

I do appreciate you pointing out that this is a myth. It’s important people don’t think this is somehow manageable, even for “just a few years”.

All that being said… you’re still going to keep hearing it on the news, in books, from movie stars, etc…

2 days

I agree that pacing and breaks are important and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I was offering an alternative perspective to the claim that "most people only have 4 hours of work in them". I just don't think that's true for people who are working on things they find intrinsically motivating. I'm also skeptical of the claim that that 60 hours a week isn't healthy long term, assuming you have the right habits in place. But I'll admit that I haven't really looked into the research on this, if it exists.

2 days

Most people don't care about anything that strongly. Among those who do, most of them care about things that others won't pay for (e.g. obscure open source project, or making a hobbit-like garden etc.).

2 days

Terrible advice when he lives in a high cost of living area.

40 minutes

I’m in a similar position right now as well. Hope my boss doesn’t see this

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Peter: "So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it... So that means that every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life."

Therapist: "What about today? Is today the worst day of your life?"

P: "Yeah."

T: "Wow. That's messed up... I'm sorry. Go on."

P: "Is there any way that you could sort of just zonk me out so that, like, I don't know that I'm at work... in here? Could I come home and think that I've been fishing all day, or something?"

T: "That's really not what I do, Peter"

2 days

I have a couple of suggestions that you might be interested in. First, set aside regular time to go outside and walk. If you can do it in a park or other natural environment, even better. A daily walking routine did wonders for my mental health.

Then, try talking out loud to yourself as you walk. Sounds strange, I know, but it can actually be really fun and elucidating. For me, it was a helpful exercise to clarify my values, goals, and find more creative ideas for moving forward. You can put in some earbuds and those around you will be none the wiser.

Someone else mentioned this, and I will echo it too. Be compassionate with yourself. It will take some time to find your way out of your rut. It's completely normal and from this you will grow stronger and more resilient.

You mentioned therapy, which is a great and I think everyone should try at least once. I would also recommend coaching. The difference is that therapy deals more with trauma and healing where coaching deals more with a person's present situation and guiding them to a more desirable future. In a coaching relationship, you are seen as the expert of your life, and the coach simply acts as a partner to help you discover the answers that are already within you. Disclaimer: I am a coach by training so I am biased, but I've worked with a couple different coaches myself and have found it to be incredibly powerful.

2 days

If you got a job at a high-status tech company in California, you can get another job at a different tech company. It's like complaining you got into Harvard and other Ivy League schools wouldn't want you.

If you want to work on something different, you can only do that by getting a different job, either in the same company or at another one. If you stay where you are, you know you won't get what you want, so you need to make a move.

2 days

You’re missing the point. He’s unmotivated despite where he is. He’s trying to figure out why, not simply to walk over to the greener grass.

2 days

> I work on a product which just clones other similar products with a slightly better price point, so it’s hard to really care about the goal

I think this sums it up perfectly. Try another job first. There’s a saying - “a change is as good as a rest”. Worth trying!

2 days

No, I did not miss the point.

I have never, in my entire life, seen someone who is unhappy with their job somehow find happiness without changing jobs. And it's not good enough to find hobbies or devote time to family -- if you don't like your job, you don't like 1/3 of your waking hours and you should really do something about that. If the job is the source of unhappiness, staying in the job will perpetuate the problem.

Furthermore, the OP is in a very privileged position and has many options available, as does anyone else who works at a large California tech company.

2 days

> If the job is the source of unhappiness, staying in the job will perpetuate the problem.

There's a bit of a leap here -- you're made unhappy by your job, but it's harder to say how much of the cause is the job vs. you. The relevant question is really just whether taking your current mind and putting it in a different job will make everything better, or if the issue is, at least partially, how you're relating to your job.

I say this as someone who's had a string of jobs where I'm unhappy for ~similar reasons. Each was a bit different, but the consistent undertone of unhappiness makes me think that it might be higher leverage for me to examine my relationship with my job instead of just hoping over and over again. I suspect there's ways of thinking about my job that I'm "carrying" with me, and addressing those things will do more for my happiness.

2 days

Changing jobs is (likely) necessary but not sufficient. For example, if OP works a front-end job at Meta and switches to a front-end job at Google, that's unlikely to make them motivated. I don't think you're "missing the point", but I do feel that your answer is very incomplete.

2 days

The OP stated a desire to work on low-level systems, which is different from their current job, and my advice was given in that context.

2 days

Get unexpectedly laid off into a bad job market. Seriously makes you a better employee that really values a good job. Its been 8 years already and I still try much harder to delivery good work and please the boss.

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It is probably pretty dependent on your particular work situation, but if you have some freedom in your daily tasks, you could try inserting more interesting small things in amongst the grind.

For example in my job (quite dull) I automated some data collection, stored the data in a database, created a web app to present data from the database, ran it all on a server etc. None of it was anything my boss would have given me as an explicit task, but it was useful stuff that I could make a case for. It was also stuff I hadn't done before and was interested in learning how to do.

Granted, the weight of crappy project management decisions eventually became too much for me to put up with, but for a while I quite liked going in to work and setting up my mini-projects.

2 days

As other commenters have said, this could be burnout. In my personal experience, improving from burnout requires two things: an extended break from anything mentally demanding (preferably more than a month, but at least a few weeks), and a change in circumstances when you return (whether it’s a different team, different job, different project, etc). Both are necessary. If you just take a holiday without changing up your work, then you’ll spend the whole time dreading returning to the usual grind. It’s important to have something different to look forward to when you return. While you’re away, you can think about your work and whether you genuinely find it rewarding.

A lot of people go through this. I’ve been through it twice, and both times it felt like it hijacked my brain. It probably feels like you’re doing something wrong or you’re a bad employee, but most likely you’re just in a temporary rut.

2 days

If you cannot care about the goal, then the goal is likely not really worthwhile. There was at one point where I exhausted myself for what was essentially an SEO app. I got to the point where sitting in front of the laptop and the thought of typing generated significant pain; my body freezes. That's burnout. I had nothing left to give. After that, I swore I would only look for work that I find worthwhile and purposeful. I identified some broad areas of social impact that felt meaningful for me (e.g. legal, healthcare, education, finance) and only looked for startups that were working within those areas. YMMV.

If you are young, and you have a good social safety net (family), then it is probably better to actively search for a different company, one where you feel that you are contributing meaningfully and purposefully.

If the only reason you are there is for the high income and the prestige of working there, but you do not feel you are contributing meaninfully, then forcing yourself to work through this will hollow you out. You'll wake up at middle age with a middle-age crisis. You might succeed with the prestige or wealth, and none of it means much. (Or you realize that your youth is ultimately ephemeral, and you can never get it back again). Further, at that time, you are much less likely to absorb the risk of changing your career -- dependents, tech-industry ageism, etc.

In this post-lockdown economic time and huge demand for workers, this is the time where it is favorable for employees. That window is still open, but it is closing. When it closes, we'll be left with lower demand for workers and higher inflation. The window for job mobility is open now and it won't last forever.

You may possibly be able to apply for a different job internally, but I suggest it is something you feel you can contribute meaningfully.

If you still insist on staying, you can try to get a mental-health leave until you come out of burnout. Take the time to find out what is really important to you. It is probably not status or prestige, even if it seems that way. If you're able to find the purpose within you, then that will be what gets you up in the morning; you might be tired, and even exhausted, and yet, purposeful and meanginful work makes it feel like it is worth it.

2 days

This is called burnout, you don't fix it by doing more work - including self study.

Take a long weekend every few weeks, go to yosemite. Or fly to vegas and cut loose. Pick up golf or pickleball or whatever. Make some friends who aren't engineers and live a bit.

Then you can come back to work with a fresh mind and care enough to get your shit done well.

2 days

I started doing those random weekend trips to cope with my burnout and became of those SWEs living paycheck to paycheck making $250K.

It can also isolate you from normie friends/family who obviously can’t afford to travel like this.

If you’re 20-something and sick of it all and you’ve never been to Vegas, hell yeah you should go, I’m just saying don’t sleepwalk into bad habits.

2 days

And when you do come back with the fresh mind, have a beginners mind. Work very hard to not fall into your old patterns. Approach things as new. Acting like a beginner but drawing on your old experience in a controlled way is very powerful

2 days

It's not necessarily burn out. I mean, it's possible that the job's just boring. Some people can handle boring jobs better than others, mentally.

2 days

That's still burnout, no?

I think some people view burnout as "being overworked to exhaustion" but I think that's just one form of it.

2 days

Your life is full of abundance but it has no meaning. Figure out how to create meaning or else you’ll continuously burnout as you’re working for no reason. For me it was deciding to have a kid, but that is specific to my life circumstances.

What I’ve come to believe is that responsibility is the meaning of life, so try adding responsibility to your life.

7 hours

I'm 51 and I walk at least 2.8 miles everyday. 2.8 is not a magic number, just my default route. Try it, you may gain a more balanced perspective on life.

2 days

I would humbly caution against looking to a job to fill an emotional void or you will be left feeling empty. It may help to find some friends, connect with family if possible, engage in activities which nurture the emotional self (caring for plants, animals, other human beings). All the best

2 days

The suggestions for taking a break or seeking therapy are great ones.

Fundamentally, there isn't much overlap between the work that we get paid to do and the work we find meaningful. Unless you work for a non-profit that's saving the world, there just isn't.

What to do? Well, one thing I've considered is that once I am fully ready to retire, I do part time software development and give half my earnings to a deserving charity. I get back a few days out of my week, and the knowledge that my donations are doing far more for a charity than my volunteering could ever do, and as a bonus I get to keep half to pursue my hobbies. I think that would be a win win for everyone if you could swing it.

2 days

Find a job with similar pay but a goal you care (substantially) more about?

2 days

I've been working on trying to do the same, but I've mainly stopped trying to learn things unless it's really compelling. I've been trying to do a little quality work, and then mainly do anything but work, and that's imo how time should be spent. Feels great.

The important thing to realize is that life is already sufficiently challenging and complicated, working more takes away time from basically everything else that matters more.

Working and learning for the sake of both is unimaginative and kind of a dead end imo

Edit: Not that these aren't worhy pursuits, but you need to consider that they need to contribute to your overall wellbeing. Do you have a good social life, do you have a lover, a community, non-tech hobbies, great health and fitness, good relationships with your family and yourself?

If I had not been forced to step away from programming a few times in my twenties, I'd be pretty depressed by now/still. I have vague interests that are tech related, but outside of my duties I literally couldn't give a shit about working more; it'd be a crutch if I ran out of other ideas.

2 days

A short list of things worth thinking about trying, listed in no specific order:

1. Find a project at work that you are interested in, and move over to that.

2. Join a completely different team/org at work.

3. Join a completely different company, doing different types of work.

4. Join a socially responsible company, doing charity work.

5. Quit your job, and take a 6 month break. Don't think about work during that break.

6. Go see a therapist for at least a couple of months.

7. Improve your diet and exercise routines, potentially with professional help from a trainer or a nutritionist.

8. Begin a treatment plan using drugs w/ the approval of a psychiatrist.

9. Begin a treatment plan using drugs without the approval of a psychiatrist, YOLO mushrooms time.

10. Leave your job, and move into an entirely different industry. Go start a farm.

11. Take a trip to a country with a radically different way of life, to gather some perspective.

12. Take some daily time to do something away from a computer - like join a pottery club.

13. Read some philosophy books on the meaning of life. Do some introspection based on what you read.

14. Pick a goal at work, like getting a promotion, and figure out what you need to do that.

I want to also offer a quick theory of burnout. Burnout is caused by 3 different sources:

1. Plain old overwork. Too much on-call is not good for your soul.

2. Mission doubt. If you begin to doubt the reason why you are doing something, you will get burned out.

3. Broken steering. If you feel that nothing you do actually is changing the situation, that you're unable to make meaningful progress in your work.

What I want to stress about this theory is that you don't need all three to have burnout. Some people think that taking an extended vacation is the cure to all burnout, because their theory only accounts for source 1, when you can have burnout from a job where you only work 20 hours a week. You might wish to first try and figure out which of these 3 sources seem like the cause for your burnout, and then which of the 14 options seem most appealing to you.

whitepirate20 OP
11 hours

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who took the time to post here. I can’t reply to all of you, but this is very comforting and I read every comment.

2 days

This (posting) is therapy .. and you can also pay for better quality / holistic therapy.

Observe your situation (gather details of the 'problem') & you'll likely naturally make some headway at resolving your difficulties.


Why did you take the job in the first place?

What excites you about the current job?

There are many reasons to be de-motivated. Something wrong about the job. Something about you. Something that's unconscious, for you, it seems currently. Focus on observing the flow:

* your sensory experience ("my butt really hurts today sitting in this chair")

* => thoughts ("this job requires that I spend a lot of time backing-up what I'm working on with evidence of progress, for the sake of my Manager's approval, and for my Manager's own upward-mobility")

* => evoked memories ("when I was young, Rob took my pencil and claimed I had stolen it from him in the first place")

* => feelings ("this job offends me")

* => and follow-on thoughts ("to be successful at this job I'm going to have to become a different person than who I am now, how am I going to do that, do I want to do that. I really prefer that people just trust me, and not require proof and evidence that I am Good at my Job.").

My mind often has a general Sense > Thought > Memory > Feeling flow in my experience.

2 days

You’re experiencing burnout. It’s not a rut in the sense that it can be mentally adapted into something else, it’s exhaustion. You don’t just deserve, you need, time to recover from it, and you need a commitment to your wellbeing to do that.

I’m saying this from experience at the wrong end of answering this question, or at least addressing the same underlying cause. I’m over two years into severe burnout and have no idea if I’ll ever recover. I made the wrong choice by committing to my job over what my body and mind were telling me.

Get some rest, before your body forces you to do it. And before you build a cycling habit of it. You’re clearly smart. You’ll get to chase all the career things you want to, but you’ll only enjoy them if you take care of yourself along the way.

And yes, do seek therapy if that’s something you’re open to. It can help, especially if you’re in a place where you can go in with trust. Which it sounds like you are.

1 day

The best way to "learn to care about your job" is to work at a job where you care about the people. WHO you work with is as important (if not more important) than WHAT you work on. Aligned in spirit, goals, and energy, a team can be self motivating and a really enjoyable experience even if what you're working on is "just a clone". It becomes about the collective win, the pursuit of victory for everyone. Your mind will shift from being focussed on taking home a big paycheck, to being focused on working on behalf of the team to see everyone's success.

2 days

I was in a similar situation 10 years ago, but in a less well-paid job :) I happened on a musician's talk about how to be a productive musician. He was saying that his most important suggestion was to "write everyday". It seemed obvious that musicians should write music everyday. But he meant writing your thoughts everyday on paper. (I am not a musician btw) I took that to heart and started writing in the mornings. The practice helped me to construct, then re-construct, my work and career from first principles.

That being said, "my current mental state is affecting my ability to learn effectively" sounds like you're in some distress. It will not hurt at all to seek help.

2 days

Have you considered working for a company with goals that you find more meaningful? For me working in biotech has provided that, but you need to find what's right for you. Don't spend your life working on "clones of other similar products with a slightly better price point". Your words!

Therapy probably couldn't hurt either, but you should make your career move soon if you can. Burnout takes a long time to recover from. Personally I burned out from working long hours and it took years to recover from, even though I was enjoying my work and found it meaningful. Don't overwork yourself.

2 days

I think you need to answer what it is you like about your career, independent of your job. Like, I just simply love understanding problems to the point that I can identify a solution that makes it easier for everyone to understand. That's independent of my job, but I get good-enough satisfaction if my job allows me to scratch that itch.

If your job isn't allowing you to express what you love about your career, then you have something to go on in terms of changing your job. But if you're finding you actually don't love your career, that that would imply a different path entirely.

2 days

Lots of good advice has been posted already.

> I work on a product which just clones other similar products with a slightly better price point, so it’s hard to really care about the goal, but it would be nice to shift that mentality slightly.

Building something that has already been built at a better price point can be an interesting challenge. Obviously there's only so much control you have over the project, but learning how to deliver solid software on a budget is a super valuable skill. If you want to shift your mentality I would suggest that you approach it as it's own learning process.

2 days

> Maybe therapy could help.

I think this is where I'd start. At times in my life I focused my efforts at solving my unhappiness by thinking I needed to change my job. In retrospect I mostly did that because I found it easier or more socially acceptable to say something like "I hate my job" than "I am lonely and depressed" (even when only thinking it to myself). Therapy was pretty good at working through some of this, at least for me.

Of course, there are jobs that aren't right for a person. Talking to someone might help you sort out whether that's the case.

2 days

I've been in your shoes and will suggest something different than the consensus here.

Instead of sitting around learning (taking online classes) actually DO something.

  - Create something with your own hands that gives you satisfaction.

  - Write a journal everyday to give yourself a sense of accomplishment.

  - Use those new EE skills to make a circuit that performs some small task to automate your daily life.
Sitting around and learning without applying the knowledge is a drain of your precious time.

Create, don't consume.

2 days

Here's some good advice on what not to do, which you might be doing:

Your problem is not that your "mental state is affecting your ability to learn effectively" as if you were a robot created only to work and learn. Look at yourself with some dignity and compassion.

1 day

Take a half hr everyday to think not about the nitty-gritty of everyday stuff but about one level above.

This could be: - Areas where you can improve &/or learn - How can I climb up the Corp ladder? - Where can I add value that no one else can add

Sometimes it helps to take a step back and look at the bigger picture

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Having been in similar places emotionally more than once, the one thing that helped significantly was hard exercise (running, weight lifting). Another trick that helped a little was facing the work I dreaded at a set time first thing in the morning, e.g. going in early to a coffee shop and grinding through work for like an hour.

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Take a vacation, seriously.

I took 2 weeks off earlier this year and it did wonders for my motivation and accruing burnout.

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What if one takes a vacation of two weeks and, after having had a wonderful and relaxing time, comes back even more burned out about their work situation, and the question “wtf am I spending my finite time like this? I just don’t want a job!” comes up in their head even more frequently than before? Asking for a friend.

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I've had a similar problem post covid - although I never had covid the after-effects of isolation have been somewhat hard to work through.

Surely others have dealt with this - but I actually did pretty okay throughout the lockdown in my okay sized room in NYC. My roommates paid rent but left for other states so I basically had an apt to myself. I got lucky enough to have a job as well - however, this instilled an odd kind of lazy malaise.

I've since left new york since everything worth doing in tech is remote - separated where I sleep and work etc. But it seems like my ability to properly get focused or excited about my work has completely atrophied.

My first step in solving this was using an app to track tasks that give me the most and take the most - so different kinds of "work" and things that "waste" time (youtube, web browsing etc).

I haven't found a solution but it's troubling to say the least. I initially was worried about not progressing as fast as I wanted to - now I've identified the issue is I rarely complete more than 3hrs of deep work per day. Or 6hrs of doing anything.

However, I've sort of accepted I'm an introvert - stopped trying to be "cool" for the right reasons and idk I have decent savings which feels good.

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Care about yourself.

If you're working on things that interest you and with people you enjoy interacting with and you're treated well by your employer, then your job with take care of itself.

If you're not, find a new job until that list is satisfied.

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Obligatory recommendation whenever burnout comes up: Get a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and work your way through it. It was originally designed to help blocked creatives but it’s helped all kinds of different people escape ruts.

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The value you add is not a function of how cool or curious your work is. Try to derive some satisfaction out of the fact you are doing something needed and useful and that your 'micro contributions' matter probably to a lot of people.

Also, take a vacation for a bit it helps to add perspective.

Finally, if you get thrust into a crap situation, you'll learn to count your blessings quickly.

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Take a vacation Try to move internally saying that you need a new challenge

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A lot of people will tell you to not care about your job, but I think this is wrong: life is better lived (and happier!) with passion.

There is no shortcut: you have to really care about what your job is doing, the people you are helping, the core mission. I love helping my employer make more money.

If you can't align with your job (ex: there is no price I can see myself optimizing/sellings ads-to-eyeballs), find another.

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1.)Have kids.

2.)Work at doing something else, since you clearly don’t like what you’re doing. Looks like you’re already doing that, so just keep going. Could your physical activity and health be what’s affecting your mental state?

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I don't mean to be rude, but 'Have kids' may be one of the single worst pieces of advice you could give someone who is "plagued with exhaustion and lack of motivation".

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I agree. It is completely unfathomable to me how someone could give this advice.

Similarly ridiculous, couples going through a relationship crisis often receive this kind of “advice” to “fix their relationship”.

The only people who might think this is a great idea probably don’t have kids…

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Is that backed up by evidence?

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Having a responsibility of kids is a good motivator and releases seratonin/dopamine through parent-child bonding.

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I was also plagued with exhaustion and lack of motivation.

Now, 5 years into getting married and having 2 kids, I value my time and my self in ways that simply would not have been possible prior. I am learning to focus not only on what I want and 'me'. I have begun to contribute to my community through serving in community oriented roles. I stopped my worst self destructive habits explicity so that I may be a good role model for my children. My energy is at an all time high as a result of taking care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally so that I may do the same for those around me. I have found motivation in doing good work to help others, even if it's not 'ideally' fit for my personal tastes at any given time. Doing good work, being consistent and stable (where I was not before), and striving to bring about positive change has resulted in substantial gains in a number of areas in my life. I would still be smoking weed and fucking off playing 1 player games by myself without my family to motivate me.

Maybe it doesn't work this way for everyone, but this is my experience.

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