This week, I quit something I love.
January. Time to double-down on giving up the things that are bad for us like booze, smoking, and junk food.
In 2011 my Service Operations team at previous employer were doing some cutting-edge stuff in the AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud. I decided to start a user group for them. I’m not sure it ever really worked for them in the way I intended, but I enjoyed organising it.
A dozen people attended the first one — I had no idea what meetups were so I held a meetup to decide if we should hold more meetups, and if so what we’d talk about.
Four years later almost to the day, and at well over 2,100 members and climbing daily, AWS User Group UK is the largest AWS meetup in Europe, top 5 in the world — maybe the largest in the world based on number of attendees.
Hundreds attend the meetups, we’ve been sponsored by some household names, and we’ve been blessed with time from some amazing speakers.
In recognition of my work I was named as an AWS community hero in 2014. In 2015 I finally went to re:invent in Las Vegas, by far the best tech conference I’ve ever been to.
I’ve changed employer since then, and a deep understanding of AWS has long since ceased being a requirement professionally, so the group became a hobby. I enjoyed compèring the events, and I enjoyed the buzz afterwards.
We had big plans for 2016 and had secured a trio of sponsors prepared to commit for the year. We were looking forward to focusing on improving the quality of content, growing the group membership, and improving the diversity of speakers. We were on the up!
This week, I stood down as an organiser.
My job is demanding mentally, and is only going to become more so over this year and beyond. I’ve started studying, and that takes a significant and sustained time commitment. I’m looking to expand my work interests by picking up an advisory or non-exec role or two. I also run 5–10 hours per week — and I’m not prepared to reduce my sleep!
Over Christmas my inbox was filling with meetup correspondence. My meetup account had a dozen unanswered messages. The videos that we took at the last event were waiting for me to sign off — and had been for a few weeks.
Our meetups are scheduled every two months, but there was neither a venue nor speakers organised for January — it was obvious we’d need to cancel it. We’ve been close to the wire before, but it’s the first time we’d had to cancel.
The group had become a source of stress and anxiety. But it was entirely within my control. All I had to do was quit, and hand over the running to someone else.
I forced myself to follow my own advice, as dispensed to many people at work over the last few months.
Sometimes you have to stop doing something you love in order to reduce the stresses in your life and do better at the other things you love; and it’s entirely the right thing to do.
Do fewer things, do them faster, and do them better.