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The dreaded solo project

Other than the 8 figure paycheck, being a world renowned hacker (or a famous actor playing a hacker), and the company I’m contracting for trying to kill me, for the last six months I’ve felt like I’ve been starring in the movie Paycheck. I’m referring to the bit where he goes in, and a year later he walks out after they’ve wiped his mind and he has no memory of the past year.

The past six months plus have been an absolute blur. I should probably blame it on the beer, or the more likely culprit of not enough vacations during that time period.

But it was my fault

But really, it comes down to one stupid mistake. I, Damon, am an idiot. Once again, I have made the critical error of repeating a past mistake! I wish I could say this was the first time, but it’s not. And the terrible thing is, I knew before hand I was going to do it! I actually thought to myself “you know shouldn’t do this, and you’ve promised not to repeat this mistake…” But I argued with myself that I had no choice, it had to be done, and this was the only way; I was the only one who was going to do it.

What I’m talking about is the the solo project; going dark, doing a “cowboy” project, isolating yourself so you can finish some big project, on and on and on, without anyone dedicated to help. It’s the #1 mistake on my list of mistakes to NEVER repeat!!! And yet, I did it again.

That’s not to say I didn’t have help along the way, and many, many thanks to those of you that helped!!! But in the end, this entire project was mine to complete, and I got lucky. Looking back, how to prevent this is now very clear.

My new #1 item on my “I will not do…” list

“I will not embark on a solo project again. If the project must be done or is worth doing, then it must be properly staffed.”

Again, my fault for not requiring that up front, but it just sort of turned into a project. But, this means pair programming at a minimum. I am committing to not accepting another contract or another job in the future that does not already have this in place; the one obvious exception would be if I was charged with putting that in place.

Was it so bad?

I have learned a ton of new things; I knew that would be the case going into it, because that is how it has always been in the past. I also told myself ahead of time that would help make it not so bad.

But in the end, it was not worth it. I could have learned just as much, if not more, by pairing up. I was miserable; the beginning was fun, and the end has actually been fun too. But the middle… I felt like I was isolated, cut off, and a bottleneck to everyone. I was their dedicated help, but I did not have the same in return. I was stressed out, agitated, irritable and short.

I’m committing to not making the same mistake again. Once again, many thanks to those who helped along the way, and thanks to everyone for putting up with me during that time as well.