Do I have a dream or am I just dreaming?

I’m 57. I’ve been with my employer for the last 32 years. For the last 22 years I’ve been working in IT. I’m now the Director of IT. But every day is a struggle to “suit up and show up” (virtually because of the pandemic).

I want to quit my job, spend down some of our “life savings” (I’m married) and learn to code.

I want to create open source software that does good, whatever that looks like.

I want to use the experiences I’ve had during the last 22 years in buying phone systems, managing an IT department, fixing computers, designing networks for LANS and WANS, VPN’s and VOIP, POS and more.

I want to wake up in the morning and think, “I can’t wait to get started, today!”

Do people find that here?

I do realize how incredibly fortunate I am: I have a job, I can pay my rent and buy groceries, I have health care, I’m married, I have life savings to spend down and I made it to 50! That’s a lot to be grateful for. But still…

Mike

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Hi Mike, and welcome!

I’m 54 and working as a technical specialist for a SaaS firm. I’m also learning to code, and it has already been a boon in my work.

Quitting your job might not be wise, but can you carve out time in the evenings to learn to code?

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Yeah, I would be worried about quitting your old job without lining up something else.

I want to quit my job, spend down some of our “life savings” (I’m married) and learn to code. … I want to create open source software that does good, whatever that looks like.

It concerns me that you want to quit your job, spend some of your retirement money to pursue volunteer work - and you still need to “learn to code”.

Can it be done? Sure, anything is possible. But being of an advanced age (as am I) is going to make that a little more difficult.

Are you in a position where you can consider retirement? This would make sense if you are going to retire and want a coding hobby. But if you need to make money, then you are in a very precarious position - financial mistakes when your young are OK, you have more time to fix them.

I’m an older gentleman too and considered doing what you are talking about. But I also have some professional coding experience, had an idea for a product I could build and knew how long it would take, and what the earning potential was. I had a very specific plan, that I’d budgeted and discussed with my wife. I assume you’ve discussed this with your wife? What about a financial planner? What if you do this and 3 years later you still don’t have a job and have made no money? Do you have a plan for that?

If you are not in a position to retire and will need to continue earning, then I definitely would not quit your job. I would work on coding in my spare time and see where it leads you.

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Hi, mikemoser. Welcome to FCC Forums! :smile:

After I ended up going back to school at the local tech school to learn about the stuff you want to leave behind (LANS, WANS and all that network goodness), the pandemic hit and employment has proven precarious. Back to to FCC I go…

Honestly, if I had a stable job, I’d stick with it for now, given our current crisis. Howevr, I like FCC in large part because it’s self-paced, and its an easy way to experiment and decide if coding is really what you want to do. There have been more than a few of my IT hardware collegues who look at my (truly novice-level) HTML, CSS and Python coding and confess that it’s not something they can see themselves doing.

I think I have found that here. You get what you put in to it, of course. I am always finding something new to tinker with as I make my way through the tutorials. I’m also making more of an effort to post in the forums as a way to get more involved in the community.

Best of luck! :smile:

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I mean, it’s hard for me to say because I loved my old job (jazz musician/music teacher), I just hated the pay and instability. I also love coding. I love that I get paid an insane amount of money to solve puzzles all day. Do I wake up and say, “I can’t wait to get started, today!” No, not really. It’s still a job. If I won the lottery, I’d put in my notice. I might still code for fun. But I work this job because they pay me, if I’m being honest. But yeah, it can be a fun job and I get to work on a cool product with a bunch of smart and friendly people.

I think we have this idea of a “dream job” that we ecstatically love doing. Those jobs are like unicorns, I think. If there really was a job that was so much fun, people would do it for minimum wage or even volunteer. But this job pays a lot. Part of that is because it is specialized knowledge, but also because it can be difficult and stressful work. One of my favorite jobs of all time was working as a pizza cook and delivery driver. It was fun. I used to joke with the manager, “I’d do this for free if you paid me enough.” It was fun, but it was still a job. I loved being a jazz guitarist, but it was still work and stress.

Don’t set impossible standards for the job. It’s a fun job. I enjoy it. But ultimately I’m here because they pay me.

Hello @mikemoser, welcome to the freeCodeCamp forums! :slight_smile:

I’m going to take a different approach to this than I normally take. One that focuses less on what I usually focus on, which is learning, growth and reaching ones goals. As I think its fair to say you have achieved a lot of the goals you set out to achieve in life. This is comparison to a number of people who come asking for career advice who are just starting out.

First, I think its great you want to continue to learn, and grow. As I also think its fair to say that you don’t need to learn to code, or change careers, or have much external pressure to drive you to do this. So its definitely more of a “passion” to try it out.

However this might just be FOMO. The idea that “I’d be happier doing X” rather than what you have now. I’d assume you didn’t spend 22 years in IT hating what you do. It might not be as fun/cool/fancy as it once was, but to stick with it at that length of time, it probably wasn’t utter hell. (well its IT, it always has some level of pain :wink: ) Now the idea that you could be in a state of mind where you just “can’t wait to get started” forever with software development probably isn’t realistic. One day it might be great, another day it might be total madness. Development is just as much about when the code is working, as it is when its not working, stuff is exploding and you feel totally confused and out of your depth. (Imposture syndrome anyone?)

So this is where that “mid life crisis” feeling comes in to play, that many people run into. The most important part is to not risk too much of your future in the sake of “fun”. Something like throwing out all stability you currently have to gain a new sense of purpose might just result in you not finding fulfillment and being stuck in a new hole.

So you could go learn to code, but I’d do it on the side. This decreases your direct risk, as you keep all the things you worked for, while still being able to explore new avenues in life, regardless its learning to code or something else. This way you can see how much you do enjoy it as a hobby, rather than ditch everything and go all into something else.

Just understand that it might not be a magical “greener pasture” that feels amazing. Software development is hard, its finicky, its annoying, it changes all the time, and always a challenge. That challenge is part of the reason it can feel rewarding, but that feeling of reward is only temporary to the job at hand. Once the next one comes in, the entire process starts over. In that sense its like any other job, its a journey, as just like life its less about the destination, and all about the journey you take to get there.

As someone that dabbles in philosophy, your post made me think of a relevant quote:

The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less - Socrates

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I think I got a more philosophical answer:
It is not so much about the What, it’s more about the How.