So at least in my experience and orbit, folks in tech have gotten progressively less satisfied and more unhappy the past 18 months or so.

  • It’s not layoffs.  Those folks have a reason to be upset, but there really haven’t been many in my ecosystem.  And I’m excluding them.
  • It’s not comp.  While many in sales have seen comp declines, overall comp has held up outside of sales, and even in sales many are still paid quite well.
  • And importantly — it’s not quality of life.  The vast majority of startups and companies allow a ton of work from home.  And implicitly or explicitly, tolerate or support a lot of side hustles.

Based on many classical ways we measure “quality of life”, it’s much better in fact in tech today than a few years back.

But people are far less happy IMHE than 2019.  Even billionaires.  You can see billionaire grumpiness all over X / Twitter.

What happened?

My view in so many discussions is simple: many of us lost our sense of purpose the past 18 months.

Working for a startup that’s failing can do that, but it’s more than that.  The free spending of 2021 was fun, but it also led to so much hiring and so much growth that we all thought we were magicians and it was easy.  It wasn’t.  It’s hard.  It’s supposed to be hard.

So look if you’re unhappy today, but have a good job, reflect a bit.  There really are only a few places to find happiness other than inside yourself (which is tough for those of us that are driven):

  • Home life.  Yes, try to make this even better.  If your home life is A+, your life at work will probably be better, too.
  • Hobbies.  If you obsess about gaming or gold or Taylor Swift, and that truly brings you happiness, sure do more here.  But most of us Pirates and Romantics can only have so many hobbies.
  • Work life. If your job is truly unrewarding, yes find another one.  But what if it is rewarding?

My best advice if your job is rewarding is — do more of it.

I’m not saying work 18 hours a day.  That never works, and I’ve never done it outside of a few crazy and short high-stress moments.

I mean embrace it.  Throw yourself into it.  If you are good at your job, from CEO to SDR, there’s an inherent sense of worth and validation from that.  So be even greater at it.

Work harder — for you.  So you can do even more great things.  So you can grow.  So your hours of daylight matter.  So they are rewarding, not frustrating.

We’re all different.  What I can tell you, is after I sold both my startups, I didn’t work for a year.  It was great for the first 4-8 weeks or so.  But after that, I’d lost my purpose.

Maybe you have, too, at least somewhat.  I think a lot of us have.

If you’re on a great journey at work, doing something meaningful, and the team appreciates you — maybe lean in there.

You may get more satisfaction from that than another hobby.

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