Little Victories and Little Celebration

We passed a significant milestone today at work: we finally got all the hardware together and loaded the current software on it. And whadya know: the damn thing actually works!

This should have made me feel good, but it really didn't. For one thing, I was tired: it was after 9PM when I finally got it all working. For another, I was alone: everyone else had been gone for hours, so I couldn't share the victory with anyone. I just sent the project manager an e-mail, packed my bag, went home, and fell asleep on the couch like any other evening.

Seeing it all put together and working, I wondered "so it took five months to do this?" The system is conceptually very simple. What it does, when it works, is almost trivial. What took a lot of time was designing and implementing all the error handling for the situations when it doesn't work. You can't see any of that complexity from the outside; it's just a black box that does almost nothing, and that's exactly how I saw it tonight.

Is there something wrong with me? I'm rarely proud of my work. I never feel a sense of accomplishment. I focus more on what I didn't do, or did poorly, than on what I did well. So work is just a series of disappointments.

How can I turn this around? Is it the nature of the work, or just my own nature? If it's my own nature, can I and should I change it?

© 2003-2023 Kristopher Johnson