Putting Down the Pager to Pick up the Pen

Why I left my dream job at StackOverflow to join Microsoft

Originally post on duffney.io

After just 6 months, I left my dream job.

I’m terrified. I’ve spent the last 7 years working to get EXACTLY where I am today.

Many times a voice in my head has screamed:

“What the **** are you doing?! You love your work, you literally work with the best in your industry, AND your manager is Thomas Limoncelli!”

All I can do is a nod to myself and accept that I’m slightly crazy.

I’m not leaving because of anything my dream job lacked. And no, I’m not quitting my 500k job (I don’t even come close to making that) to go independent.

I am, at least in my mind, switching careers.

Today is my first day at Microsoft as a Senior Content Developer.

If it doesn’t work out, I pray Stack will take me back. I’ll grovel if I have to. :) I truly loved working there. It’s an amazing company filled with wonderful people.

Patterns of Fulfillment

After I redefined my career goals, I didn’t stop. I kept digging.

In a Twitter thread titled “Aimless to an SRE @StackOverflow”, I shared my journey of taking back the driver’s seat of my career and landing my dream job, that I just quit, which I feel deserves some explanation.

I began to dig deeper, I started to ask questions of myself beyond my career. I didn’t know what I was looking for, I just kept asking questions. It wasn’t until I asked the question “What do I enjoy the most?”, that a pattern emerged.

Reflecting on a year of tremendous growth for me personally and professionally, I discovered a pattern.

That pattern is: learn, apply, condense, simplify, document, share, and teach.

When I get to complete cycles of this pattern I’m the most fulfilled and happy.

An Ember that Almost Went Out

I started to explore outlets that allowed me to exercise that pattern.

That entailed writing and narrating blog posts, speaking on podcasts, joining live-streams, presenting at user groups, leading workshops, recording video courses, and writing a book.

I paid very close attention to which activities I enjoyed the most.

What I found surprised me, writing and audio-only podcasts were what I enjoyed the most. Podcasts made sense because they are essentially conversations on a topic of interest to me. Writing surprised me and everyone around me.

Once I started, I couldn’t put it down.

In two days I have been writing every morning for 300 consecutive days.

Jobs, Careers, and Callings

I’ve called being an SRE @StackOverflow my dream job many times, I’m not lying.

It was a dream I created for myself. I can trace it all the way back to my Doubling My Salary a PowerShell Story blog post. Drawing from others in the industry, I built my dream and achieved it. I escaped the job and forged a career.

What’s drawn me away from my own dream is the possibility of a calling.

I’ve been writing as an amateur since the beginning of my career. It started with writing how-tos on Spiceworks, which turned into a blog, and most recently a self-published book.

Looking back, writing has always been there. I’ve written sporadically for nearly a decade on the side, never taking it seriously. Maybe I was just running from it.

A Common Thread

A single thing connects the transition of a job into a career and a career into a calling.

That common thread is PowerShell.

I now have the opportunity to contribute to this community on a massive scale. My blog just became docs.microsoft.com and I get to write there full time! Perhaps one day my name will be worthy alongside (or slightly below) these gentlemen.

PowerShell Educator’s Hall of Fame

  • Jeffery Snover

  • Don Jones

  • Jeff Hicks

  • Jason Helmick

  • Ed Wilson

  • Ashley McGlone

  • Richard Siddaway

  • Adam Bertram

What’s Next, Turning Pro

I’m going all in!

Today is the day I set my sights on becoming a professional writer.

I have a ton to learn and don’t know even know what success looks like.
The only thing I am certain about is, it’s time to get to **work**!

"Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are." - James Clear

Instead of focusing on outcomes, I’m focusing on outputs.

My PACTs (Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous, and Trackable)

  • Publish 30 newsletters over the next 30 weeks

  • Publish 6 freelance articles over the next 6 months

  • Write 100 pages of a self-published ebook over the next 6 months

There are two types of stories.

Stories that have a complete narrative. And stories that have just begun. Ones that invite you along the journey.

That’s the invitation I’m extending to you, this story is just beginning.