A few months ago, I quit my job at Google after 10 years and joined a 40-person startup (Replit).
At the time, it was difficult to express why the change was necessary even though I knew it for sure. I wrote this to help keep it organized.
I quit because I had to balance work and life.
I joined Google in early 2011. Larry Page was beginning his second term as CEO. Everyone was talking about a secret project. emerald sea. TGIF was Friday and we attended in person.
It was my dream job back then. Google has been incredibly good to me. I had amazing team members and role models. Our family’s financial situation has changed forever. I was promoted fairly steadily, and I was well prepared to keep moving forward.
Then why am I unhappy?
Once upon a time someone described to me the balance as three buckets filled with water. One is work, the second is physical health, and the third is social and family life. You can always run out of one bucket. But if the overall water level is high enough, there should be no problems.
The important thing is that water represents your satisfaction, not the time you spend.
And this explains how I got caught up in the so-called great resignation.
In 2020, the pandemic has destroyed bucket #3 for most people. We were no different. Our hometown friends in Canada were unable to visit us. Even meeting local friends became difficult. In January 2021, I tore my Achilles tendon while playing pickup basketball. I have bucket #2.
Only then did I realize that Bucket #1 was lacking for a while.
By the middle of 2021, I was always tired. I know I’m not alone. Because it was an ongoing meme inside Google. Only now did I realize what was wrong. Missed the satisfaction of making things and finishing projects.
Getting things done on Google can be difficult. A project requires the collaboration of multiple teams to be successful, so it takes a lot of work to get everyone to come together. But it makes the project vulnerable. If one of these teams changes direction or exaggerates the original promise, the project slows down or fails.
The rate at which this happens has continued to rise. There were many reasons. Teams fight for scope. Management disagrees on direction, but middle managers are clever enough to articulate OKRs in a way that makes everyone think they’re getting what they want. And the combination of mid-level executive reorganization and churn meant that most people change parts of their management chain several times a year. In that sense, great resignation is like a flywheel.
For most of 2021, I have dedicated my energy to protecting the team from chaos. I hoped they could finish the project we were excited about. My day was spent preventing potential reorganizations or project cancellations of new leaders coming into the teams around me.
September brought another wave of organizational change. I was exhausted despite working fewer hours than I had previously worked. I’ve decided that the best solution is to work in a place where all these kinds of problems cannot exist.
I found Replit in mid-2021 via a combination of Hacker News posts and Paul Graham tweets. I immediately understood the potential of the product. Some early ideas about them are starting to come out as real features. The CEO shared his views publicly on Twitter, and I agree with most of them.
As soon as I realized I was leaving Google, I reached out to them.
I haven’t been coding regularly for about 5 years. But thankfully, their interview was practical. I spent evenings and weekends refreshing my skills well enough to pass.
When negotiating an offer, I really only paid attention to three things.
- Expected role.
- Salary enough to pay my bills.
- If I’m right about what Replit can be, it’s fair enough to get me ahead of my stay at Google.
When I accepted the offer, a wave of instant relief and excitement overcame me. I usually advise others to follow their intuition for difficult decisions. It was nice to be able to hear what I was saying so clearly.
So: Am I happier? Undoubtedly yes.
I work more hours. Now you are more likely to work evenings or weekends. But what I do makes a difference I can see. Progress is 10x faster.
The most surprising thing is that I have more energy. It’s easier to find motivation to return to the gym. I have more energy in social situations.
If one bucket is full, it can overflow.
- A few months later, Emerald Sea took on the public name Google+.
- The joke “I’m so tired” became a joke on internal social networks.
- Alex Komoroske uses the following analogy to explain very well what happens when a project slows down. slime fungus.
- It’s worth noting that for me, roles are distinct from titles. I forgot to check my official title in the job posting and when people first asked me (called “engineer”) I couldn’t answer.
- This sounds simple, but the cost of a family of three with a home in the Bay Area is no joke. It was around 85% of my Google paycheck.