A Change of Focus

If you read the about me page, you’ll know that I spent my career in the technology industry. I started as a programmer and ended up in engineering management at a pretty senior level. I’ve always been very passionate about technology.

After I retired from Microsoft, the first type of project I wanted to get into was programming. My career had taken me pretty far from my roots as a programmer. It had been so long since I actually wrote code and I really wanted to jump back in. So I started learning about the Apple developer platforms, languages, and tools. I was hooked again!

To me, programming has always been a very creative endeavor. You start with a blank canvas and create something new. Of course, it can be complicated and frustrating. But, that’s part of the draw for me. It requires you to always be learning. And each new problem that comes up can usually be solved in myriad ways. That’s where a lot of the creativity comes in and solving those problems is very rewarding.

I’ve spent the past two years working on a couple of apps while adjusting to retired life. I’ve fit coding in between moving to a new state, lots of travel, setting up a new house, and exploring our new town and the surrounding area. All-in-all it has been a good start to retired life.

When I started these projects, I had two objectives: learn a lot and put a finished app into the App Store. I accomplished one of those goals: I learned much more than I thought I would. I have not, though, finished an app. I’m quite confident that I could finish and list an app, but I’ve come to the realization that I lack the desire to continue right now.

Here’s the thing. I’ve grown weary of being so deeply immersed in technology–immersed in the way one needs to be in order to write code, or for that matter, to manage a large engineering team working on a large project. I’ve spent the last thirty years of my life so immersed. I’m just tired of it.

I still love using technology. And while these app projects were a great way to kick off my retirement, I’m ready to move on to a different item on my “what will I do when I retire” list: writing.

For many years I’ve dabbled in writing: journaling, blogging (I’ve had many starts and stops), and novels. I have several novels started, waiting for me to return. When I’ve been working on those projects, especially the novels, I felt so alive. This was a new form of creativity, similar to programming in some ways and very different in others. The telling of a story, one that was emerging as I wrote, was exhilarating.

So, going forward I’m going to focus on writing, both working on a novel as well as blogging (hence this site!).

This change is kind of scary for me. Deep involvement in technology has been a core part of my life for as long as I can remember: from programmer and tinkerer, to technical program management, and then to large engineering team management. In some ways, stepping away from that deep involvement feels as if I’m losing a part of myself. I worry that a big part of my identity is going away. At the same time, I see a new door opening and something interesting on the other side.

Someone I greatly admire recently told me:

Your identity is something you get to choose, as often as you like.

That is a great way to look at this. I’m choosing to be a writer. Just typing that sentence is thrilling. I am choosing. It’s going to be an exciting journey.

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